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Ayn Rand Answers: The Best of Her Q & A

by Robert Mayhew (Editor), Ayn Rand

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1301155,984 (4.08)1
After the publication of Atlas Shrugged in 1957, Ayn Rand occasionally lectured in order to bring her philosophy of Objectivism to a wider audience and apply it to current cultural and political issues. These 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 a fresh and spontaneous insight into Ayn Rand herself.… (more)

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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 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. ( )
2 vote AshRyan | Mar 27, 2009 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mayhew, RobertEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Rand, Aynmain authorall editionsconfirmed
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After the publication of Atlas Shrugged in 1957, Ayn Rand occasionally lectured in order to bring her philosophy of Objectivism to a wider audience and apply it to current cultural and political issues. These 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 a fresh and spontaneous insight into Ayn Rand herself.

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