Talking about Ayn Rand

Two new books about Ayn Rand are just hitting the bookstores: Ayn Rand and the World She Made, by Anne C. Heller, and Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right, by Jennifer Burns.

As Janet Maslin writes in the New York Times, reviewing the two books, the 1970s were “one Rand moment. This seems to be another.” Brian Doherty, historian of libertarianism, agrees. Sales of The Fountainhead are soaring in India. The chairman of BB&T was inspired by her work to renounce lending to eminent-domain projects and to spread her ideas in schools and colleges. She’s being blamed for the financial crisis on government TV, but the takeovers and bailouts have caused sales of Atlas Shrugged to soar.

Both the books are getting good reviews, though reviewers have varying perspectives on the subject of the bios. Rand has been denounced in the New Republic (yet again), and defended against TNR’s criticisms by our own Will Wilkinson. Embattled governor Mark Sanford declares her prophetic in Newsweek. New York magazine calls her “Mrs. Logic,” not without irony. Caroline Baum of Bloomberg says Rand would tell us to stop blaming capitalism for problems caused by regulation and cronyism. Conor Friedersdorf can’t believe how wrong Hendrik Hertzberg gets her in the New Yorker.

Find out for yourself next Wednesday when Burns and Heller speak at a Cato Book Forum, “The Life and Impact of Ayn Rand.” If you can’t get to Washington, watch it on the web.