Tuesday, October 11, 2011

100 Voices: An Oral History of Ayn Rand, by Scott McConnell

There have been several biographies that have come out about the enigma who was Ayn Rand, but this one not your average biography. Sort of a Rashoman meets 60 Minutes, this is a collection of 100 interviews with people who knew her, worked with her, or just met her or heard from her.

The people range from celebrities like Raquel Welch to maids and fans.It is a terrific collection of perspectives on a very fascinating woman.

The one thing that impressed me the most is the thing I have always gotten from Rand, from interviews and videos. Regardless of her shoot-from-the-hip prose and her rather dismissive and arrogant manners on the subject of ideas, she was still a little Russian woman like a million grandmas I knew growing up in Brooklyn and on Long Island.

Or as Patrick O’Connor, her Trotskyite editor at NAL said, “After lunch I went back to my office and reported to my bosses, ‘She’s just a lovable little lady from Leningrad.’”

She was a complicated, real woman, and a very sweet one, even if she was a Class-A freak when you got her going philosophically.

The only criticism I have the book is not enough negative interviews, The author obviously paints a flattering picture here, and I suppose that’s his intention, but I would rather have read a book with more anti-Randian views.

I hope someone does a book like that in the future, but for now, this is a an invaluable addition to any study of Rand.

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