Ayn Rand Answers: The Best of Her Q & A (Library Edition)

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Press: Blackstone Audio, Inc.; Unabridged LIBRARY edition (January 1, 2010)
Author Name:Rand, Ayn; Mayhew, Robert; Dunne, Bernadette


Ayn Rand presents her provocative ideas in a personable question-and-answer session from which one can gain new insights and a fuller appreciation of her thoughts as well as a sense of what she was like as a person.After the publication of Atlas Shrugged in 1957, Ayn Rand turned to nonfiction writing and occasional lecturing. 
Her aim was to bring her philosophy to a wider audience and to apply it to current cultural and political issues.
The taped lectures and the question-and-answer sessions that followed added not only an eloquent new dimension to Ayn Rand's ideas and beliefs but also a fresh and spontaneous insight into Ayn Rand herself.
Ayn Rand Answers is a collection of those enlightening Q&As.
Topics covered include ethics, Ernest Hemingway, modern art, Vietnam, Libertarians, Jane Fonda, religious conservatives, Hollywood communists, atheism, Don Quixote, abortion, gun control, love and marriage, Ronald Reagan, pollution, the Middle East, racism and feminism, crime and punishment, capitalism, prostitution, homosexuality, reason and rationality, literature, drug use, freedom of the press, Richard Nixon, New Left militants, HUAC, chess, comedy, suicide, masculinity, Mark Twain, improper questions, and more.

About the Author

AYN RAND (1905-1982) was born in Russia, graduated from the University of Leningrad, and came to the United States in 1926. 
She published her first novel in 1936.
With the publication of The Fountainhead in 1943, she achieved a spectacular and enduring success and her unique philosophy, objectivism, gained a worldwide following.


Books on CD,Nonfiction,Politics & Social Sciences,Philosophy,Movements,Modern

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Comment List (Total:12)

  •     This is a fantastic insight into the thinking behind Ayn Rand. This really is worth the money. I only wish it was longer. Very entertaining.
  •     very useful answers. great book
  •     Ayn Rand Answers: The Best of Her Q & A was highly enjoyable. Some of the Q & A were familiar to me from her recorded lectures, some were new.
  •     As everyone knows, if you desire to find the answers to various topics, you should seek out an expert in their particular field.
  •     This is a good book to gain some insight as to how Rand's theory would work in the real world, but it does get old.
  •     Ayn Rand Answers: The Best of Her Q&A purports to be lightly-edited transcripts of answers Ayn Rand gave, often after lectures at the Ford Hall Forum.
  •     This book is certainly fascinating, but do not purchase it believing that you will be reading Ayn Rand's very own words. Over and over again, you will find that Robert Mayhew has "improved" upon Ayn Rand by deleting what he views as potentially embarrassing comments, or by adding his own words when he wishes she had said what, in fact, she hasn't. There are legitimate ways to edit and improve a spoken transcript--by the use of ellipses and bracketed insertions--which allow the reader to judge what is original and what is interpolated. But Mayhew doesn't take advantage of them. Instead, references to such things as smoking (which killed her) or to former colleagues (who were later purged from the Objectivist movement) are routinely consigned to Orwell's Memory Hole. Meanwhile, words which Rand did not say, and which sometimes entirely change the sense of her comments, are added without scruple. The effect is self-serving and dishonest, and cannot be defended as inconsequential, or as done for clarity or economy. What could easily have been a faithful record of a fascinating woman instead becomes a dogmatic tract.But don't take my word for it. Read the following versions of Rand as she answers why, in her novel ATLAS SHRUGGED, there is no government in Galt's Gulch. The first excerpt is Mayhew's bowdlerized fabrication. (You can verify the text by using Amazon's "Look Inside" feature and searching for the word "gulch" which appears on p 75.) The second is a verbatim transcript of Rand's own much more interesting and controversial statement from the original 1972 Ford Hall Forum speech.-----THE MAYHEW EDIT:"Galt's Gulch is not a society; it's a private estate. It's owned by one man who carefully selected the people admitted. Even then, they had a judge as an arbitrator, if anything came up; only nothing came up among them, because they shared the same philosophy. But if you had a society in which all shared in the same philosophy, but without a government, that would be dreadful. Galt's Gulch probably consisted of about, optimistically, a thousand people who represented the top geniuses of the world. They agreed on fundamentals, but they would never be in total agreement. They didn't need a government because if they had disagreements, they could resolve them rationally."But project a society of millions, in which there is every kind of viewpoint, every kind of brain, every kind of morality--and no government. That's the Middle Ages, your no-government society. Man was left at the mercy of bandits, because without government, every criminally inclined individual resorts to force, and every morally inclined individual is helpless. Government is an absolute necessity if individual rights are to be protected, because you don't leave force at the arbitrary whim of other individuals. Libertarian anarchism is pure whim worship, because what they refuse to recognize is the need of objectivity among men--particularly men of different views. And it's good that people within a nation should have different views, provided we respect each other's rights."No one can guard rights, except a government under objective law. What if McGovern had his gang of policemen, and Nixon had his, and instead of campaigning they fought in the streets? This has happened throughout history. Rational men are not afraid of government. In a proper society, a rational man doesn't have to know the government exists, because the laws are clear and he never breaks them."ORIGINAL RAND, FORD HALL FORUM, 1972:"Because Galt's Gulch is not a society; it's private estate. It is owned by one man who selects those who are admitted so carefully, and even then they have a judge as an arbiter if anything ever came up--only nothing came up among them because they were all men sharing the same philosophy. But in a general society, God help you! If you had a society which all shared one philosophy, that would be dreadful."Galt's Gulch would cons, probably have consisted of--I never named the number--let's say, optimistically, a thousand people who represent the top genius of the world. Even then, they would agree on fundamentals, but they would never be totally identical. And the reason why they didn't need any government is because if they had disagreements, they were capable of resolving them rationally."But now how do you project a society of multi-million nation, in which there can be every kind of viewpoint, every kind of brain, and every kind of morality, and you want no government? What do you think [pounding podium] I was talking about when I talked about the Middle Age? There is your no-government society, which leaves men at the mercy of the worst bandits possible, because when there is no government, every criminally inclined individual will resort to force, and every intellectually or morally inclined individual will be left helpless. Government is the absolute necessity if men are to have individual rights, for the simple reason that you do not leave force at the arbitrary whim of other individuals."And your, euhh, so-called libertarian anarchism is nothing but whim worship if you refuse to see this point, because what you refuse to recognize is the need of objectivity among men, particularly, men of different views--and it is proper and good that mankind at large, or as a large a section as a nation--should have different views. It's good to have different views, provided you respect each other's rights. And there is no one to guard rights except a government under strictly objective rules."How would you like it if McGovern had his own gang of policemen and Nixon his own? And instead of presenting a campaign, they were fighting it out in the streets? What do you think that would do to you? The rest of us would be caught in the crossfire. Would that make any sense? And yet it certainly has happened throughout history."Ahh, a rational society, or a group of rational men, is not afraid of the government-- they, in a proper society as existed even in this country in the beginning, a rational man doesn't have to know that a government exists, because the laws are clear and he never breaks any. That is the proper way for men to live, and that's the proper government."-----Yes, some of Mayhew's deletions are economical . . . even if he couldn't afford the standard ellipses. But removing words significant to Rand like "anarchism" is hardly helpful. And how in the world do you defend deleting Rand's remarkable statement that "it is proper and good that mankind at large, or as a large a section as a nation--should have different views. It's good to have different views, provided you respect each other's rights"? What, beside an instinct for doctrinaire uniformity, would motivate the deletion of Rand's own criticism of doctrinaire uniformity?As for Mayhew's unacknowledged insertions--such as his changing Rand's "But in a general society, God help you! If you had a society which all shared one philosophy, that would be dreadful" to the entirely different "But if you had a society in which all shared in the same philosophy, BUT WITHOUT A GOVERNMENT, that would be dreadful"--they are a fraudulent disgrace. That inserted qualification vitiates a formulation which cannot be dismissed as a misstatement. Although Mayhew conveniently deletes her words, Rand actually repeated and expanded upon it. This statement of praise for diversity, unique in Rand's corpus, is gutted.Ultimately, the criteria for judging this academic fiction are questions of respect--respect for accuracy, respect for posterity, respect for Ayn Rand, and respect for her audience. No reputable scholar since Spinoza or Erasmus would treat a text, its author, or her enthusiasts the way Mayhew has here.In trying to protect Rand, who needs no defense, from readers he distrusts, Mayhew diminishes her, and he insults us. Nevertheless, I will not advise the curious not to read this work. Even a make-believe Rand is interesting. The reader should simply treat this fabrication as one would a Wikipedia article, as an entertaining but suspect approximation of the truth.
  •     This is an easy read. Rand's answers are comprehensive and interesting. The reader also gets to see a part of her personality which is valuable considering she has passed on.
  •     It is gratifying to see that editor Robert Mayhew's massaging of Rand's words is finally being given the attention - and condemnation - which it deserves.
  •     Ayn Rand is one of the best writers of all time. Her Q&A is a must read of anyone who wants to understand the woman.
  •     A great compilation of the best of Ayn Rand's question and answer periods following her lectures.Robert Mayhew's excellent editing organizes the questions and answers into chapters drawn around broad themes (e.g., politics, ethics, metaphysics and epistemology, and art), then into smaller sub-sections. This keeps the reading flowing, instead of jumping around from topic to topic almost at random as would occur in a live Q&A session.While some of Ayn Rand's answers will be obvious to long-time students of Objectivism, many of them shed new light on her philosophy, and almost all of them give the reader a better picture of Ayn Rand as a person, whether it is her quick wit, her warm benevolence in giving the benefit of the doubt to most questioners and patiently explaining her philosophical principles to them, or her righteous indignation at genuinely dishonest, hostile, or insulting questions. Even her answers to questions on narrow, concrete issues at the time of the session (such as the Vietnam war) are applicable to events today (such as the current Iraq war) because her answers address the deeper abstract principles involved (such as proper foreign policy).On my first reading, I noticed only two drawbacks. First, a few of her answers leave you wanting more, and you wish that she were still alive and in the room with you so that you could ask her follow-up questions. That's not to say that she doesn't give a full enough answer to the question as asked, given the context of a live public Q&A session, but rather that her intriguing answers leave you feeling sad that you are merely reading a book and not actually in the room during one of those Q&A sessions. Second, if you've ever heard a recording of one of her Q&A's (or were lucky enough to have attended one), you are aware of how much you are missing from the live setting--for example, from the audience reactions, as they audibly gasp in shock or indignation at some remark Ayn Rand makes, but by the end of her answer after she explains the comment, they are cheering. That's an added bonus of the live setting that the book format unfortunately can't reproduce, but if you're a student like me and can't yet afford to spend a few hundred dollars on recordings of all her lectures, this book is the next best thing.
  •     Fascinating.

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