Alisa Rosenbaum was one of the most controversial writers in America’s history. Why, then, have few people heard of her? Because both people’s plaudits and their intemperate attacks have been aimed at the new name she adopted after leaving Russia for America—Ayn Rand.
Her influence is beyond question. She sold more than 30 million books, and decades after her 1982 death, hundreds of thousands more sell each year. Atlas Shrugged has been ranked behind only the Bible as a book that influenced readers’ lives.
Some are devoted enough that Randian has become a descriptive term. Others use her name only to disparage opponents. Still others disagree with some of her ideas (e.g., while Rand was an often-strident atheist, capitalism is clearly defensible on Christian principles, and most historical defenses of liberty employed Christian rationales which conflict with Rand’s reasoning), yet find a great deal of insight in her analysis of liberty, rights and government.