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Free Books for Students

Thanks to our donors, students can now receive a free Ayn Rand eBook of their choosing! Just select the book you’d like to read, say a few words about why you want to read it, and we’ll send you a Google Play eBook within one business day.

Atlas Shrugged

The Fountainhead

We the Living

Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal

For the New Intellectual

Philosophy: Who Needs It

The Romantic Manifesto

The Virtue of Selfishness

Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand

Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology

Return of the Primitive: The Anti-Industrial Revoluion

The Voice of Reason: Essays in Objectivist Thought

Atlas Shrugged

1072 pages

Print Length

4.5/5

13K+ Amazon Reviews

English

Language

1957

Publication Year

Book Synopsis

The country’s top banker — a leading oil producer — a once-revered professor — an acclaimed composer — a distinguished judge. All vanish without explanation and without trace.

A copper magnate becomes a worthless playboy. A philosopher-turned-pirate is rumored to roam the seas. The remnants of a brilliant invention are left as scrap in an abandoned factory.

What is happening to the world? Why does it seem to be in a state of decay? Can it be saved — and how?

Atlas Shrugged “is a mystery story, not about the murder of a man’s body, but about the murder — and rebirth — of man’s spirit.”

Follow along as industrialist Hank Rearden and railroad executive Dagny Taggart struggle to keep the country afloat and unravel the mysteries that confront them. Discover why, at every turn, they are met with public opposition and new government roadblocks, taxes and controls — and with the disappearance of the nation’s most competent men and women.

Will Hank and Dagny succeed in saving the country — and will they discover the answer to the question “Who is John Galt?”

The Fountainhead

694 pages

Print Length

4.6/5

6K+ Amazon Reviews

English

Language

1943

Publication Year

Book Synopsis

In her first notes for The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand describes its purpose as “a defense of egoism in its real meaning . . . a new definition of egoism and its living example.” She later states its theme as “individualism versus collectivism, not in politics, but in man’s soul; the psychological motivations and the basic premises that produce the character of an individualist or a collectivist.”

The “living example” of egoism is Howard Roark, “an architect and innovator, who breaks with tradition, [and] recognizes no authority but that of his own independent judgment.” Roark’s individualism is contrasted with the spiritual collectivism of many of the other characters, who are variations on the theme of “second-handedness” — thinking, acting, and living second-hand.

Roark struggles to endure not merely professional rejection, but also the enmity of Ellsworth Toohey, beloved humanitarian and leading architectural critic; of Gail Wynand, powerful publisher; and of Dominique Francon, the beautiful columnist who loves him fervently yet is bent on destroying his career.

The Fountainhead earned Rand a lasting reputation as one of history’s greatest champions of individualism.

Anthem

105 pages

Print Length

4.4/5

3K+ Amazon Reviews

English

Language

1938 & 1946

Publication Year

Book Synopsis

Anthem is Ayn Rand’s “hymn to man’s ego.” It is the story of one man’s rebellion against a totalitarian, collectivist society. Equality 7-2521 is a young man who yearns to understand “the Science of Things.” But he lives in a bleak, dystopian future where independent thought is a crime and where science and technology have regressed to primitive levels.

All expressions of individualism have been suppressed in the world of Anthem; personal possessions are nonexistent, individual preferences are condemned as sinful and romantic love is forbidden. Obedience to the collective is so deeply ingrained that the very word “I” has been erased from the language.

In pursuit of his quest for knowledge, Equality 7-2521 struggles to answer the questions that burn within him — questions that ultimately lead him to uncover the mystery behind his society’s downfall and to find the key to a future of freedom and progress.

Anthem anticipates the theme of Rand’s first best seller, The Fountainhead, which she stated as “individualism versus collectivism, not in politics, but in man’s soul.”

We the Living

432 pages

Print Length

4.7/5

1K+ Amazon Reviews

English

Language

1936 & 1959

Publication Year

Book Synopsis

The setting is Soviet Russia, early 1920s. Kira Argounova, a university engineering student who wants a career building bridges, falls in love with Leo Kovalensky, son of a czarist hero. Both Kira and Leo yearn to shape their own future — but they are trapped in a communist state that claims the right to sacrifice individual lives for the sake of the collective.

When Kira is kicked out of the university as an undesirable and Leo’s past makes him unemployable, life becomes a grim struggle for physical survival. Leo contracts tuberculosis but can’t get admitted to a state sanitarium, despite Kira’s best efforts. Desperate, she seeks help from Andrei Taganov, an ardent young communist whose love for Kira helps awaken him to the meaning of genuine personal values, not to be surrendered for others’ sake.

Once these two men are destroyed — Andrei by his disillusionment with communism, and Leo by his inability to go on fighting — Kira tries to flee, but will she find it possible to defy the state’s power?

Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal

416 pages

Print Length

4.7/5

500+ Amazon Reviews

English

Language

1967

Publication Year

Book Synopsis

“The method of capitalism’s destruction,” Ayn Rand writes, “rests on never letting the world discover what it is that is being destroyed.” In Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, Rand and her colleagues define a new view of capitalism’s meaning, history, and philosophic basis and set out to demolish many of the myths surrounding capitalism.

Does capitalism lead to depressions, monopolies, child labor or war? Why is big business so hated? Why have conservatives failed to stop the growth of the state? Is religion compatible with capitalism? Is government regulation the solution to economic problems or their cause? What is freedom and what kind of government does it require? Is capitalism moral?

Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal tackles these and other timeless questions about capitalism, and lays out Rand’s provocative thesis: that the system of laissez-faire capitalism is a moral ideal.

For the New Intellectual

198 pages

Print Length

4.7/5

300+ Amazon Reviews

English

Language

1961

Publication Year

Book Synopsis

In the lengthy introductory essay of For the New Intellectual, Rand argues that America and Western civilization are bankrupt, and that the cause of the bankruptcy is the failure of philosophy: specifically, the failure of philosophers and intellectuals to define and advocate a philosophy of reason.

In the subsequent selections, culled from her novels, Rand presents the outline of her philosophy of reason, which she calls Objectivism. These excerpts cover major topics in philosophy — from Objectivism’s basic axioms to its new theory of free will to its radical ethics of rational egoism to its moral-philosophic case for laissez-faire capitalism.

For the New Intellectual contains some of Rand’s most important passages on other philosophers, including Aristotle, Plato, Hume, Kant, Hegel and Nietzsche. Many of its selections also develop Rand’s unprecedented critique of altruism — the notion that our basic moral obligation is to live for others.

Philosophy: Who Needs It

228 pages

Print Length

4.7/5

300+ Amazon Reviews

English

Language

1964

Publication Year

Book Synopsis

Philosophy: Who Needs It is the last work planned by Ayn Rand prior to her death in 1982. In these essays, Rand shows how abstract ideas have profound real-life consequences. She identifies connections between egalitarianism and inflation, collectivism and the regulation of pornography, alcoholism, and the problem of free will vs. determinism.

Contrary to the notion that philosophy is detached from the practical concerns of life, Rand sees philosophy’s influence everywhere, leading her to ask questions like: How can a person’s views about metaphysics impact his ambition and self-confidence? How has the notion of “duty” given morality a bad name? How did the belief that faith is superior to reason unleash the horrors of twentieth-century totalitarianism?

Philosophy: Who Needs It also includes Rand’s assessment of a number of prominent thinkers, including John Rawls, John Maynard Keynes, B. F. Skinner, and, above all, Immanuel Kant, whom Rand regards as her arch philosophical adversary.

In these eighteen essays, readers learn why Rand’s answer to the question of who needs philosophy is an emphatic: you do.

The Romantic Manifesto

208 pages

Print Length

4.7/5

200+ Amazon Reviews

English

Language

1971

Publication Year

Book Synopsis

In this collection, Ayn Rand explains the indispensable function of art in man’s life (chapter 1), the source of man’s deeply personal, emotional response to art (chapter 2), and how an artist’s fundamental, often unstated view of man and of the world shapes his creations (chapter 3). In a chapter that includes an extended discussion of music, Rand explores the valid forms of art (chapter 4).

Rand also presents her distinctive theory of literature (chapter 5) and sheds new light on Romanticism, under which category Rand classified her own work (chapters 6 and 10). Later essays explain how contemporary art reveals the debased intellectual and esthetic state of our culture (chapters 7, 8 and 9).

In the final essay (chapter 11), Rand articulates the goal of her own fiction writing and upholds the value of art that depicts men “as they might be and ought to be.” Chapter 12 is a short story Rand wrote in 1940, illustrating how an artist’s “sense of life” directs his subconscious and shapes his creative imagination.

The Virtue of Selfishness

173 pages

Print Length

4.6/5

1K+ Amazon Reviews

English

Language

1964

Publication Year

Book Synopsis

Most ethical discussions take for granted the supreme moral value of selfless service. Debate then centers on details: Should we serve an alleged God or substitute “society” for God? How much sacrifice is required? Who’s entitled to benefit from others’ sacrifices?

In this volume’s lead essay, “The Objectivist Ethics,” Ayn Rand challenges that basic assumption by reconsidering ethics from the ground up. Why, she asks, does man need morality in the first place? Her answer to that question culminates in the definition of a new code of morality, based in rational self-interest, aimed at each individual’s life and happiness, and rejecting sacrifice as immoral.

In additional articles, Rand expands her theory and discusses practical questions such as: Do people face intractable conflicts of interest? Isn’t everyone selfish? Doesn’t life require compromise? How do I live in an irrational society? What about the needs of others? What are political rights? What’s the rational function of government? Her fresh, provocative answers cast new light on what it means to be genuinely selfish.

Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand

493 pages

Print Length

4.7/5

200+ Amazon Reviews

English

Language

1991

Publication Year

Book Synopsis

In his preface, Leonard Peikoff explains: “I have presented the ideas of Objectivism, their validation, and their interrelationships. . . . I have covered every branch of philosophy recognized by Miss Rand and every philosophic topic . . . which she regarded as important.”

A listing of all twelve chapter titles conveys the breadth of this work and of Rand’s philosophy: Reality, Sense Perception and Volition, Concept-Formation, Objectivity, Reason, Man, The Good, Virtue, Happiness, Government, Capitalism, and Art.

Among the book’s many values are the many fascinating connections it traces among Objectivism’s principles and its extensive discussions of subjects that Rand published little or nothing about, such as the validity of the senses and the nature of certainty. Peikoff explains that he acquired this knowledge of Rand’s ideas from extensive private philosophic discussions with her. “Our discussions were not a collaboration: I asked questions; she answered them.”

Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology (Expanded 2nd Ed.)

320 pages

Print Length

4.6/5

200+ Amazon Reviews

English

Language

1990

Publication Year

Book Synopsis

Rand begins by briefly presenting the issue that a theory of concepts addresses: the “problem of universals,” as it is sometimes termed in philosophy — and indicating why traditional theories are inadequate.

“To exemplify the issue as it is usually presented: When we refer to three persons as ‘men,’ what do we designate by that term? The three persons are three individuals who differ in every particular respect and may not possess a single identical characteristic (not even their fingerprints). If you list all their particular characteristics, you will not find one representing ‘manness.’ Where is the ‘manness’ in men? What, in reality, corresponds to the concept ‘man’ in our mind?”

Rand then develops her own theory, explaining what is identical across all the instances integrated by a properly formed concept. Her view is that concept formation, in crucial respects, is a mathematical process: it relies on a form of measurement. Essential to her theory is a new account of similarity and of abstraction as measurement-omission.

She concludes with a discussion of the cognitive importance of concepts and how her theory makes possible a new approach to epistemology.

Return of the Primitive: The Anti-Industrial Revolution

304 pages

Print Length

4.8/5

200+ Amazon Reviews

English

Language

1999

Publication Year

Book Synopsis

Confronted by an important idea, event or movement, Ayn Rand always sought to identify its causes and effects: What gave rise to this and to what will it lead?

The essays in Return of the Primitive collect Rand’s observations of the ’60s student movement, asking, among other questions: What is the meaning of the campus protests? What ideas led to the shift from the Old Left to the New? Is there a connection between the Progressive educational system (preschool through college) and this generation of students?

Rand also looks critically at the nascent environmentalist movement, which she saw as fomenting an “anti-industrial revolution,” and analyzes what she sees as the dominant emotional leitmotif of this era, which she calls “the Age of Envy.”

The essays by Peter Schwartz confirm that the timeless lessons of Rand’s analyses — especially those concerning environmentalism, multiculturalism and feminism — have been borne out by developments through the ’80s and ’90s. Her insights are as relevant today as they were four decades ago.

The Voice of Reason

368 pages

Print Length

4.8/5

100+ Amazon Reviews

English

Language

1989

Publication Year

Book Synopsis

Between 1961, when she gave her first talk at Ford Hall Forum in Boston, and 1981, when she gave the last talk of her life in New Orleans, Ayn Rand spoke and wrote about topics as different as education, medicine, Vietnam and the papal encyclical Humanae Vitae (Of Human Life).

The Voice of Reason is a collection of these pieces gathered in book form for the first time. Here we get some of Rand’s most in-depth treatments of issues such as religion, sex, abortion, foreign policy and the mixed economy.

With Rand’s selections are five essays by philosopher Leonard Peikoff, Rand’s longtime associate and literary executor, covering such topics as education and socialized medicine, as well as a piece by Objectivist scholar Peter Schwartz on the difference between libertarianism and Objectivism.

The work concludes with Peikoff’s epilogue, “My Thirty Years with Ayn Rand: An Intellectual Memoir,” which answers the question “What was Ayn Rand really like?”