Alan Greenspan defends Ayn Rand in 1957

The NY Times found this letter the young Greenspan wrote to defend Rand from a harsh review of Atlas Shrugged:

To the Editor:

“Atlas Shrugged” is a celebration of life and happiness. Justice is unrelenting. Creative individuals and undeviating purpose and rationality achieve joy and fulfillment. Parasites who persistently avoid either purpose or reason perish as they should. Mr. Hicks suspiciously wonders “about a person who sustains such a mood through the writing of 1168 pages and some fourteen years of work.” This reader wonders about a person who finds unrelenting justice personally disturbing.

Alan Greenspan.

New York

And then from later in the article:

The book was released to terrible reviews. Critics faulted its length, its philosophy and its literary ambitions. Both conservatives and liberals were unstinting in disparaging the book; the right saw promotion of godlessness, and the left saw a message of “greed is good.” Rand is said to have cried every day as the reviews came out.

Rand had a reputation for living for her own interest. She is said to have seduced her most serious reader, Nathaniel Branden, when he was 24 or 25 and she was at least 50. Each was married to someone else. In fact, Mr. Britting confirmed, they called their spouses to a meeting at which the pair announced their intention to make the mentor-protégé relationship a sexual one.

“She wasn’t a nice person, ” said Darla Moore, vice president of the private investment firm Rainwater Inc. “But what a gift she’s given us.”

“Honey, my narcissist mentor and I, we’re going to have sex. Okay?” I can’t even imagine how that one went. Anyway, there you have it.


  1. I’ve noticed a number of postings on Rand in my virtual travels of late–is she becoming big, being reinvented by some of her braindead fans? This is one author who should be left neglected. Noxious ideas and tuneless writing. Leave her on the ash heap of literary history…

  2. I was enamored of Rand — esp. The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged — when I was, oh, 16 or 17. And then I (intellectually) started growing up and seeing the world in much more complexity. And Greenspan…?

  3. “But what a gift she’s given us.”

    A great pity that we can’t send it back. I read “The Fountainhead” and thought at the end, “I’ll never get those hours of my life back.”

  4. Hello koreanish,

    In response to the penultimate sentence of your post: you don’t have to imagine it. You can read all about it, and in agonizing detail, by one of the two men who was there: Nathaniel Blumenthol, later known as Nathaniel Branden. He describes it in his book Judgement Day: my thirty years with Ayn Rand. This book, published in 1989, was moderately successful and is still easy to find.

    Or you can read about it in a slightly earlier book written by one of the two women who was there: Barbara Branden. Her book, made into a mediocre movie starring Eric Stoltz and Helen Mirren, is called The Passion of Ayn Rand.

    Both document minutely the moment of disclosure.

    Best of all possible regards.

  5. Wow, antisocialist, thanks. Except I didn’t mean, “And I really want to know what that was like.” I think what I meant was, “What a freak, it’s outside the realm of human decency but more boring than the perverse because it’s only mean and dull.” But thanks for backing it up with docudrama.

    Did he change his name to be more of an individual? I bet he did. . .

  6. Hello koreanish,

    Sorry about the tacky italics in the comment above. Evidently, the antisocialist missed closing it up at the end ofmy thirty years with Ayn Rand. Feel free to fix that, of course.

    To answer your closing query, Nathaniel Branden changed his name because, in his own words, he “never really liked Blumenthol.” He does also intimate, however, that there were certain symbolic reasons behind it as well, somewhat along the lines of what you suggest.

    Whatever you think of her, and, for that matter him, Judgement Day is actually an eye-popping read — which is not necessarily meant as an endorsement or a recommendation. But one thing about it: it won’t bore you. You’ll read it with your mouth agape. And that’s a promise.

    Good day.

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