An alert NoodleFood reader recently asked me in e-mail: “Why no comments on the new “Passion of AR’s Critics” book by Valliant? I can’t believe you didn’t pre-order and have read it by now. ;-)”
Indeed, I haven’t yet read The Passion of Ayn Rand’s Critics. I don’t even own it yet. Astonishing, I know!
Last summer, I was in the middle of writing up a long commentary on both Nathaniel and Barbara Branden. I had to set it aside for that small matter known as graduate school. I plan to finish it shortly. I’d like to finish writing it — at least in draft form — before I read Valliant’s book. I want to keep my own thoughts separate from his arguments — and the best way to do that is to put my thoughts on paper before reading the book.
So the fact that I haven’t yet read the book is not due to any lack of interest — quite the opposite, in fact! From what I’ve heard from multiple sources, I expect it to be a very interesting read.
However, I have been following some of the online commentary on the book. It’s quite interesting to compare the comments on Objectivism Online and The Forum with those posted on SOLO. Tom Rowland summed up the state of the “debate” on SOLO nicely:
So far, all I have done, as far as I can remember, is raise questions about the posts given here and the appropriateness of giving the book an objective hearing on the merits. So far, most of the response has been anger, based on the assumed truth of Barbara Branden’s biography, Nathaniel Branden’s “Judgment Day”, NBs “Benefits and Hazards” piece, and assorted other letters, papers and street wisdom. But the assumed truth is exactly what is in question here. And yelling and screaming and waving your arms and pointing to the received word from all of the above begins to look like an evangelist pointing to the “word of God” and asking me to accept it all on faith. (How’s that for a metaphor?)
I was also astonished by the repeated claim that Ayn Rand’s history with Nathaniel and Barbara Branden is old news, unworthy of further discussion. Of course, that amounts to giving the Brandens the first, last, and only word. Oh yeah, that’s justice.