Cover image for My years with Ayn Rand
My years with Ayn Rand
Branden, Nathaniel.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
San Francisco : Jossey-Bass, [1999]

Physical Description:
viii, 422 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3535.A547 Z564 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



This complete revision of the original, published in 1988 and now out of print, tells the story of Nathaniel Branden's relationship with Ayn Rand. Branden first read Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead was he was 14 years-old growing up in Montreal. He followed Rand to Los Angeles where he began an 18 year relationship with her. He started out as her disciple and apprentice, developed into a working partner, slipped recklessly (they were both married) into a dangerous sexual relationship, and ended up feeling angry and betrayed.Fraught with drama and passion, this book is also an intellectual dialectic, chronicling the still controversial philosophical movement, 'objectivism,' that Rand and Branden built together. But at the very centre of the book is an unforgettable portrait of the famous and difficult Ayn Rand, still so widely loved and feared today.

Author Notes

Nathan Blumenthal was born on April 9, 1930 in Brampton, Ontario, Canada. He received a master's degree at New York University and a doctorate from the California Graduate Institute. He wrote Ayn Rand a letter while attending college in California. She responded and they became philosophical soul mates, lovers, and business associates. At Rand's suggestion, he changed his name to Nathaniel Branden. In 1958, he started the Nathaniel Branden Institute, where he helped repackage her ideas into lectures, recordings, books, and articles. Their collaboration and affair ended in 1968.

He started promoting a revised version of their early ideas, shifting the emphasis from self-interest to self-esteem. He started the Institute of Biocentric Psychology and wrote a book entitled The Psychology of Self-Esteem. He wrote numerous books including The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem, Taking Responsibility, The Art of Living Consciously, and Judgment Day: My Years with Ayn Rand. He died from complications of Parkinson's disease on December 3, 2014 at the age of 84.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

According to this devastating and often heavy-handed critique, Ayn Rand, whose novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged exposed millions to her philosophy of virtuous self-centeredness and capitalist freedom, was an oppressive personality whose Objectivist movement demonstrated all the classic elements of a destructive cult (its messianic leader and its separation of group members from family and friends). Walker presents his subject as an arrogant, dogmatic bully who brooked no criticism and as a repressed narcissist who feared her own emotions and hid behind a glorification of reason. He concludes that Rand was no more than a third-rate pop-novelist of propaganda fiction and that her "vulgar Nietzschean" philosophy's obsessive concern with the overachiever‘who requires protection via absolutized individual rights‘contributed to the movement's cultish aspects. Walker also savages self-esteem guru Nathaniel Branden, who was Rand's protégé and extramarital lover; their explosive breakup in 1968 pulverized the Objectivist movement, whose contemporary schisms and crosscurrents he ploddingly tracks. In a vitriolic chapter on Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan‘a one-time member of Rand's inner circle‘Walker unpersuasively contends that this banker's "inflation-obsessed" policies grew out of Rand's theories. Those who find Rand's self-styled philosophy outré may not find much of interest in this scathing, albeit clumsy, exposé. Others will find it a useful corrective to the Rand mystique. (Feb.) FYI: Branden's tell-all account of his affair with Rand and his role in the Objectivist movement is being reissued in a new edition in March as My Years with Ayn Rand: The Truth Behind the Myth (Jossey-Bass, $19 480p ISBN 0-7879-4513-7). While he does criticize Rand personally, his treatment differs from Walker's in that he still reveres her as a philosopher. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Ayn Rand's novels and philosophy have been the object of widespread popular interest since the 1950s. After her death in 1982, there was a spate of biographical and critical interest; her popularity continues with a U.S. postage stamp and a television documentary, both scheduled for this spring. These two books offer divergent perspectives on Rand, her followers, and the Objectivist movement. Branden (The Art of Living Consciously, LJ 3/1/97) offers a revised version of his 1989 memoir. A personal account of his intellectual and romantic relationship with Rand and their famous break, it is useful for its insider's view of the Objectivist movement and may appeal to those interested in gossipy details of the protagonists' lives. While objectivity isn't expected in an insider's account, this memoir nonetheless lacks critical distanceÄeven after nearly 50 yearsÄand is marred by plodding narrative and wooden dialog. Canadian journalist Walker makes a more valuable and original contribution to Rand studies. He analyzes the Objectivist movement, Rand's leadership role, and the politics of her inner circle in terms of the cult dynamic. This analytical perspective avoids the common extremes of hagiography and vilification that mark many accounts of Rand's schismatic movement. Walker also does a credible job of placing Rand's ideas in the context of philosophies that preceded and followed her, and it offers insightful chapters on three of her major followers: Branden, Leonard Peikoff, and Alan Greenspan. His account is well researched and clearly written, though it is sometimes weighed down by an unsynthesized accumulation of detail. A solid contribution to 20th-century intellectual history.ÄJulia Burch, MIT Media Lab, Cambridge, MA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Author's Notep. vii
Introductionp. 1
Part 1

p. 5


p. 7


p. 24


p. 33


p. 48


p. 68


p. 87


p. 101

Part 2

p. 127


p. 129


p. 152


p. 173


p. 199


p. 221

Part 3

p. 243


p. 245


p. 276


p. 290


p. 310


p. 346

Epiloguep. 367
The Authorp. 407
Indexp. 409