Casey Fahy e-mailed me this morning to alert me to a fantastic review by Peter Cresswell of James Valliant’s The Passion of Ayn Rand’s Critics (PARC). It’s perhaps the most passionate book review I’ve ever read — and thus perfectly appropriate to its subject. It’s also a delight to read, so I’m pleased to strongly recommend it. Those who’ve already devoured PARC are sure to particularly appreciate its stubborn refusal to mince words. To whet your appetite, let me just quote one bit from the opening. Peter writes that The Passion of Ayn Rand’s Critics is:

… a book by author James Valliant–a San Diego prosecuting attorney–that examines the monstrous duplicity of her biographers, Nathaniel and Barbara Branden, across almost the entire eighteen years of their time as associates of Rand. It is impossible both to admire Ayn Rand and to read this book unmoved. Valliant the attorney is out to convict, but Valliant the author makes abundantly plain–well beyond reasonable doubt–that Nathaniel Branden exploited Rand sexually and romantically, and that both Brandens exploited her professionally and emotionally, and did so consciously and fraudulently. To this day the Brandens continue with the deception, only now with us as dupes.

To put their story in a nutshell, in order to advance themselves by association with Rand they pretended to be what they were not, and in the end they both got burned by it. All else is obfuscation.

The scale of their duplicity is vast: it stretches almost from the time they first met Rand to the time of her death, and extends even after that with biographies and memoirs published after her passing that, as Valliant shows conclusively, are mired in contradiction and embroidered with tissues of self-serving lies. Rand was and still is a meal-ticket for both Branden, B., and Branden, N.; they have both done their best to consume her for their ends, and to dishonestly denigrate the philosophy and the woman they once claimed to represent.

All true.

The Passion of Ayn Rand’s Critics reveals with crystal clarity the ongoing-to-this-day dishonesty, exploitation, injustice, and malice of Nathaniel and Barbara Branden in their dealings with Ayn Rand. In so doing, it completely undermines their portrayals of Ayn Rand as a vengeful philosophical tyrant. Even better, Ayn Rand’s journals reveal her heroic benevolence, patience, and honesty in her attempts to right the relationship.

In my own case, I realized that Nathaniel and Barbara Branden were evil before reading PARC, just based upon Nathaniel’s dishonest smears of Objectivism in his Benefits and Hazards essay and Barbara’s disgusting psychologizing in The Passion of Ayn Rand. However, I didn’t know just thoroughly dishonest, manipulative, and unjust they were and are until I read James Valliant’s book. It was an eye-opener, even for me.

Like so many other people, reviewer Peter Cresswell was “persuaded reluctantly” to read PARC, yet he says that is “very happy” that he did. And he read it honestly, as his review shows.

Others dare not be so honest.

Bob Bidinotto has praised Barbara’s The Passion of Ayn Rand for years. He contributed a quote to its back cover, describing it as “an epic tale of soaring ecstasy and searing pain, of unbelievable triumph and unspeakable tragedy.” Yet just about the time that PARC was published, he decided that he’s not so interested in Ayn Rand’s life after all. On SoloPassion, he wrote:

My alleged “silence” about the controversy caused by your book, Mr. Valliant, has been anything but — as my many, many posts on SOLOHQ can easily demonstrate to anyone with your proven dedication to research. Rather, as I made clear again and again, its contents simply don’t interest me. The Brandens’s accounts of her intimate life hold no interest for me, and neither does yours. The whole point of Mr. Fahy’s post here is that such disinterest constitutes “evasion.” Baloney. Years ago I finally had a gutful of all the arguments about Ayn Rand’s person and private life. At some point, the poking and picking at the details, rumors, and gossip surrounding the intimate relationships of a dead woman became unseemly, even morbid.

Ed Hudgins demonstrated a similar lack of interest in the book, despite the fact that his organization regularly invites Nathaniel and Barbara Branden to speak at conferences and the like. Although willing to read criticisms of the book, he’s not all that interested in reading the book itself. He said: “Robert — Great to have you back posting on SOLO! How are you doing? Very thoughtful analysis of the Valient/Rand book. I’ve only glanced at it since I’m more interested in the ideas rather than personality issues, but I’ll give the AR entries a read.”

These two men know full well that Jim Valliant’s book is a bombshell regarding the moral characters of Nathaniel and Barbara Branden. They have seen many, many reports of people dramatically changing their judgment of the Brandens upon reading PARC on SoloHQ and SoloPassion. Moreover, these men are the top brass of The Objectivist Center, an organization supposedly devoted to Ayn Rand’s philosophy, but with strong ties to both Nathaniel and Barbara Branden.

Yet they’re not interested in the book. It’s irrelevant to them. They do not care to learn that two people so intimately involved with their organization for so many years are thoroughly corrupt and dishonest. They are unconcerned that these people are the major source of vicious lies about Ayn Rand’s life. They aren’t bothered by the fact that Nathaniel’s criticisms of Objectivism as encouraging repression are the figments of his own twisted psychology. They are happy to present these people as experts on Objectivism, even though they’re still just pretending. They do not even care that they are aiding and abetting the Brandens’ in their vengeful quest to destroy Ayn Rand and Objectivism by offering them a seemingly respectable platform from which to do so.

In short, Ed Hudgins and Bob Bidinotto are determined to tolerate the evil of the Brandens, come hell or high water, yet too cowardly to even learn precisely what they are doing. As Casey Fahy said ever-so-colorfully in the comments on the review: “In reality, those who cling to the dirty bathwater of the Brandens are willing to throw the baby out just to keep wallowing in their filth for another bit of pseudo-Objectivist flattery from the false idols they have chosen to worship.”

In my view, Jim Valliant’s case against Nathaniel and Barbara Branden in The Passion of Ayn Rand’s Critics is so overwhelming that no honest person can read it without dramatically changing their judgment of the Brandens for the worse — and of Ayn Rand for the better. Moreover, a person who accepts any part of the Brandens’ portrayal of Ayn Rand, yet refuses to read the book is either dishonest, irresponsible, or a coward. There’s just no excuse for self-inflicted blindness — particularly not from people with any measure of trust in or contact with the Brandens.

And yes, that includes those who attend TOC Summer Seminars, claiming that TOC’s involvement with the Brandens isn’t important. As PARC shows, Nathaniel Branden is determined to destroy Ayn Rand and Objectivism by whatever dishonest means he can — all because Ayn Rand dared to reject him after discovering his years and years of immorality concealed by deception. Such a person ought never speak under the banner of a supposedly Objectivist organization, particularly not with his reputation as some kindly grandfather of Objectivism. Any supposedly Objectivist organization willing to give him a platform ought to be boycotted — by every person who sincerely values Ayn Rand’s philosophy. The issue is just that serious: it’s like attending a “Freedom Summit” with Uncle Joe Stalin as the keynote speaker.

So please do read The Passion of Ayn Rand’s Critics — sooner rather than later. No honest man will regret the few hours spent.

  • The Ultimate Philosopher

    Hear, hear!

  • HanksAdmirer AynRandisMyFavori

    Oh amen. I’m no Objectivist (I’m too religious) but I do admire her, and I cannot stand liars. Branden portrayed himself as if he were a naive teenager. He was actually in his 20s and he was the one who lied to her, not the reverse.

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