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During her high school years, she was eyewitness to both the Kerensky Revolution, which she supported, and—in 1917—the Bolshevik Revolution, which she denounced from the outset. In order to escape the fighting, her family went to the Crimea, where she finished high school. The final Communist victory brought the confiscation of her father's pharmacy and periods of near-starvation. When introduced to American history in her last year of high school, she immediately took America as her model of what a nation of free people could be.
When her family returned from the Crimea, she entered the University of Petrograd to study philosophy and history. Graduating in 1924, she experienced the disintegration of free inquiry and the takeover of the university by communist thugs. Amidst the increasingly gray life, her one great pleasure was Western films and plays. Long an admirer of cinema, she entered the State Institute for Cinema Arts in 1924 to study screenwriting.
In late 1925 she obtained permission to leave Soviet Russia for a visit to relatives in the United States. Although she told Soviet authorities that her visit would be short, she was determined never to return to Russia. She arrived in New York City in February 1926. She spent the next six months with her relatives in Chicago, obtained an extension to her visa, and then left for Hollywood to pursue a career as a screenwriter.
On Ayn Rand's second day in Hollywood, Cecil B. DeMille saw her standing at the gate of his studio, offered her a ride to the set of his movie "The King of Kings," and gave her a job, first as an extra, then as a script reader. During the next week at the studio, she met an actor, Frank O'Connor, whom she married in 1929.
After struggling for several years, she sold her first screenplay, "Red Pawn," to Universal Pictures in 1932 and saw her first stage play, Night of January 16th, produced in Hollywood and then on Broadway. Her first novel, We the Living, was published in 1936. The most autobiographical of her novels, it was based on her years under Soviet tyranny. She began writing The Fountainhead in 1935. When published in 1943, it gained for its author lasting recognition as a champion of individualism.
Ayn Rand returned to Hollywood in late 1943 to write the screenplay for The Fountainhead, but wartime restrictions delayed production until 1948. Working part time as a screenwriter for Hal Wallis Productions, she began her major novel, Atlas Shrugged, in 1946. In 1951 she moved back to New York City and devoted herself full time to the completion of Atlas Shrugged.
Published in 1957, Atlas Shrugged was her greatest achievement and last work of fiction. Although she considered herself primarily a fiction writer, she realized that in order to create heroic fictional characters, she had to identify the philosophic principles which make such individuals possible.
Thereafter, Ayn Rand wrote and lectured on her philosophy: Objectivism, which she characterized as "a philosophy for living on earth." She published and edited her own periodicals from 1962 to 1976, her essays providing much of the material for six books on Objectivism and its application to the culture. Ayn Rand died on March 6, 1982, in New York City.
Every book by Ayn Rand published in her lifetime is still in print, and hundreds of thousands of copies are sold each year, so far totalling more than twenty million. Several new volumes have been published posthumously. Her vision of man and her philosophy for living on earth have changed the lives of thousands of readers and launched a philosophic movement with a growing impact on American culture.
I truly hope that this book is widely read by the general public. I say this in the sense that I wish Mein Kamph would have been more widely read. Read morePublished on June 17 2004 by OAKSHAMAN
This is probably one of maybe fifty books that everyone should read in high school or college. Although the debate around the title subject is frankly a bit on the semantic side... Read morePublished on April 10 2004
Cold war ramblings. People throw words like rationality and enlightenment around and all over randian or marxist - college minded arenas etc. Read morePublished on March 7 2004 by John Whiteman
This is one of my favorite philosophical books I've read. After reading each of Ayn Rand's books, it is always interesting how I see things from a different perspective. Read morePublished on March 5 2004 by Jerilea Hendrick
As a former Randian and current philosophy professor, I think it's important to warn the world that she does indeed make crucial errors. Lots of them. Read morePublished on Oct. 31 2003
I read this book a few years ago when I was a sophomore in college. I hadn't read too many books at that time and it was my first Rand book. Read morePublished on Sept. 5 2003
If you're not selfish and objective, you'll never be enough of a person to help a single soul, including yourself. Read morePublished on July 28 2003 by Rick James
This unconvincing collection of essays touts Rand's "Objectivist" dogma. Though once an adamant believer in Objectivism, upon actually LEARNING about the philosophic... Read morePublished on July 6 2003