Sunday, January 10, 2010

"The Best of Times, the Worst of Times": Ruminations by Henry Mark Holzer and Erika Holzer about Anne C. Heller’s "Ayn Rand and the World She Made"

Corrected Version

Erika Holzer and I got to know Ayn Rand a half-century ago. For several years we represented her legally, and during these past fifty years, Rand’s ideas have continued to be a major influence on our lives (and that of countless others).

Until recently, there was virtually no biographical information available about Rand written by people without their own axe to grind. The Brandens, hardly dispassionate observers, have had their say. The Ayn Rand Institute, devoted to the promulgation of her ideas and thus having its own interests to serve, has weighed in. Other biographical writing has been published, but by authors who did little or no original research and provided only superficial analysis of Rand and her work.

In late 2009, a biography by Anne C. Heller entitled Ayn Rand and the World She Made was published. Heller’s book is commendably long on biographical detail and contains some fascinating insights about Rand’s unconventional ideas in the context of her novels (especially The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged), but it is unfortunately a mixed bag when it comes to providing her readers with a satisfactorily balanced perspective from the people who knew Ayn Rand well—particularly in the Sixties and at the time of her break with her then “intellectual heir,” Nathaniel Branden. Some of Heller’s sources, quoted and anonymous, who know better, have nothing good to say about Rand.

For about five years in the late 1960s, Erika Holzer and I were close friends of Ayn Rand. It is from this perspective that we have written our lengthy essay/review entitled, "The Best of Times, the Worst of Times": Ruminations by Henry Mark Holzer and Erika Holzer about Anne C. Heller’s Ayn Rand and the World She Made. It can be found HERE.