By way of background, by the time I read
, it had been years since I readBranden’s biography. In fact, I didn’t even own a copy of it. My impression of
was mixed. Although I disliked the style of the book,
it appeared to me that Valliant hadmade a number of good points and legitimately called into question the accuracy of theBrandens’ books. At the same time, it seemed that even on Valliant’s own representationsof the books, many of the points he made (roughly a quarter) were weak. For example,Valliant’s attack on Barbara Branden’s apparent mistake concerning the origin of Rand’sname, or some of the alleged contradictions in the books (
, whether Rand liked physical activity or to cook) represent an unfortunate tendency on Valliant’s part tonitpick and refuse to give the Brandens the benefit of the doubt. Valliant even turns asurprise party thrown to celebrate the publication of
into a sinister attempt by the Brandens to control Rand’s “context through deception.” (
, pp. 49-50.)In the months following its publication,
generated substantial discussion onthe internet. While some critiques were published on the web, none went into great detailconcerning Valliant’s use of the Brandens’ books as sources.
By that time I had become print edition of
, except as specified.
For example, the endless cheerleading (“Bullseye, Miss Rand”), the personalattacks on Nathaniel Branden (“the soul of a rapist”), and the implicit claim repeated
that the Brandens are heretics whose every disagreement with Rand is in realitya veiled attack on Objectivism and the importance of philosophy.
Wendy McElroytook issue with Valliant’s writing style, but seemed to accept atface value Valliant’s claim that the Brandens’ books contain errors and inconsistencies.Chris Sciabarrapublished a lengthy critique of
on the web which focused on larger questions such as to what extent
description of Rand has become accepted, theappropriateness of publishing Rand’s personal journals, Rand’s view of homosexuality,and the like. He did however point out certain mistakes by Valliant, such as his erroneoussuggestion that Sciabarra doubted Rand’s version of her university studies. Sciabarraalso analyzed Valliant’s poor use of sources in describing Rand’s break with Kay NolteSmith and some other issues.David Brown’sreview of
was brief and dismissive,apparently finding it so blatantly partisan as not worthy of great discussion. Perhaps the2