Sunday, February 27, 2005


I have three new books on my night table. I will update this post with short reviews, excerpts, notes by the authors, and comments from readers. Please send me your comments on the following books.

From Betsy Speicher's CyberNet:

The GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY OBJECTIVIST CLUB, with the generous support of the AYN RAND INSTITUTE, will present a live event: "Ayn Rand and the Song of Russia Communism and Anti-Communism in 1940's Hollywood," to be recorded for C-SPAN.

The speakers are DR. ROBERT MAYHEW, author of _Ayn Rand and the Song of Russia_ and JEFF BRITTING, Associate Producer of the Academy Award-nominated feature documentary "Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life" and author of the Overlook Illustrated Lives biography _Ayn Rand_.

In 1947, Ayn Rand testified before the House Committee on Un-American Activities about life under communism & the impact of communists in the motion picture industry. This talk will examine Ayn Rand's testimony, analysis of the pro-Soviet films to come out of 1940s Hollywood and history's verdict of Rand's much-maligned testimony. The material presented will allows for a re-evaluation of the role of communism in Hollywood, the nature of the HUAC, and even the Hollywood Ten.

When : Wednesday, March 2nd, 7:30PM
Where : George Mason University
Fairfax Campus Johnson Center
3rd Floor Meeting Room A

UPDATE 03/02/05:

Here is an excerpt from Nicholas Provenzo's article, Hollywood's Communist Ties.

In the 1940s, the U.S. Congress convened a panel, known as the House Committee on Un-American Activities, about the impact of communists in Hollywood. Historians have long held that the work of this panel was unfair; that it was nothing more than a witch-hunt that played to people's unfounded fears of communist infiltration.

Robert Mayhew and Academy Award-nominated documentarian Jeff Britting will argue differently. The two will be visiting George Mason University this Wednesday to make their case that the Cold War committees missed the true depth of communism's sway over Hollywood and the American government. (George Mason's student newspaper, The Broadside.)

I have read the two first chapters (Song of Russia: A Synopsis and The Making of Song of Russia) of part I (Distorting Facts: Song of Russia) of the book. The next chapter is about the reactions to the movie. The part II of the book is called Naming Facts: Ayn Rand's 1947 HUAC Testimony. Here is an excerpt from the introduction.

It is my hope that this book will help to open Hollywood's eyes to its unconscionable neglect to tell the truth about the Soviet Union-to do what Song of Russia claimed to do, but did not. In Europe-where Communism has always been take more seriously than in the United States-the film industries are beginning to make movies that accurately portray the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe (for example, the 1994 Russian film Burnt by the Sun, and the 1999 French film East-West). (Page XIV.)

Fellow blogger, Jim Woods, commented on February 24:

For some time portions of Valliant's drafts were available on-line. When reading them, I was struck by how clearly the text reflected his methodogy in comparing conflicting sources of information. Thus, I think there are two benefits from ready the book: (1) clearing away some smoke regarding Rand's life, and (2) absorbing the rigorous analytic methodology Valliant uses.

Although I have not yet read Britting's new biography of Rand, I plan to see him speak as part of a panel at George Mason University on 3/2 with Robert Mayhew on Rand, Communism and Anti-communism in 1940's Hollywood. This event may be tape by C-SPAN for later broadcast.

I also recommend the Sures' book Facets of Ayn Rand. (EGO, WORKING TITLE AND DRAFT, 02/23/05.)

I have read the first two chapters (Less Than Zero and Rand and Non-Rand, at the Same Time and in the Same Respecet) of part one (Biography and Myth) of the book. The next chapter has the scary title, Mullah Rand? The second part of the book (Documenting the Rape of Innocence) has material from Ayn Rand's private journals. Part two is almost 200 pages long. Before this section, you find about 10 photos. Here is an excerpt from the introduction.

It must be remembered, however, that these private journals were written by Rand for herself, in order to clarify her own thinking, and that Rand never intended that they be published. For that reason, they cannot be considered definitive statements of Rand's philosophy, Objectivism. Nevertheless, they provide important insight into Rand's own perspective on the Brandens and her break with them-the very perspective which the Brandens uniformly ignore. Indeed, it is upon ignorance of this perspective that the Brandens' these critically depend. (Page 8.)

Kirkus Reviews has published a review. I received a copy of the review from Holly White. The first paragraph reads as follows:

In the "heroic-capitalist" novelist's centenary year, prosecuting attorney Valliant skillfully cross-examines two previous biographers' accounts of her tumultuous love affair with a younger man. (Kirkus Reviews, 02/15/05.)

Here is an excerpt from The Autonomist.

Perhaps the most important aspect of this book is the total vindication of the character of Ayn Rand, the positive aspects of her personality, her incredible patience, profound insights and benevolent dealing with others all previously so badly misrepresented. (The Autonomist, 02/01/05.)

It is a great honor to be included in their new book. See pages 238 - 241 for my interview with John Cox & Allen Forkum. Please swing by Cox & Forkum and wish them a happy blogiversary! (Second Annual Report.) Here is an excerpt from the preface.

Black & White World II differs from our first book in a number of ways. Besides having four times the cartoons, this book is also arranged chronologically, picking up where the last book left off-September 2002 to November 2004. That means we have forgone categorizing the cartoons in the thematic sections with accompanying commentaries by me and John Cox. Instead, comments here appear as captions beside individual cartoons and are written by me unless otherwise noted. To learn more about John and me, and how we work together, see the interviews in the back of the book. There's also an index for finding cartoons by people, countries, characters, and organizations. (Page VII.)

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