Before It Began With Ayn Rand

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Jerome Tuccille's satiric memoir/history of the libertarian movement, It Usually Begins with Ayn Rand, might not be the most accurate book on the subject, but it's certainly the most entertaining; it belongs on the same shelf as Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and other semi-fictional offshoots of the New Journalism. Now there's a prequel, Heretic, that describes Tuccille's earlier years. There isn't much explicitly libertarian content here—that's why this is a blog post instead of a full-fledged review—but it's an eminently readable collection of yarns, covering the author's roots in the Bronx, his travels around the globe, and his various religious conversions and sexual misadventures. (Those last two sometimes go hand-in-hand.) Tuccille is a talented storyteller, and he has a knack for bragging and mocking himself at the same time; if you enjoyed It Usually Begins, you'll probably like this one as well.

NEXT: "Drag Me Through the Hell-Slime, Mama, Satan—"

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  1. f you enjoyed It Usually Begins, you’ll probably like this one as well.

    Loved that book. It was a thoroughly entertaining gem and the title has become a sort of movement catchphrase.

    These days, of course, it’s no longer true. The internet has cut Ms. Rand down to size.

  2. If I had to depend on Ayn Rand to become an advocate of individual liberty then I would have never become one. Hayek and Nozick were my prophets.

  3. I read Atlas Shrugged when I was 15, and it instilled me with a healthy hatred of got-damned commoonists that persists to this day.

    But seriously, wtf is up with her cult?

  4. What parts of the book are fictionall? It all seemed pretty convincing to me.

  5. I want to let you all know that I am a libertarian in spite of reading Atlas Shrugged.

    Speaking of libertarian heros, if you’re looking for one, Emiliano Zapata, a national hero of Mexico is a very good one. He fought for “land and liberty”, but not land in the sense of Mugabe-ish seize all the rich man’s land, but in the sense of freedom from the government taking the land from poor peasants and giving to rich oligarchs a la eminent domain.

    Zapata should be a much bigger inspiration to libertarians than everyone’s favorite literary hack Ayn Rand.

  6. Sorry to say to you Rand bashers, but my libertarianism did, in fact, begin with Ayn Rand. Heretic!
    The simple idea that your life belongs to you, not for rent to any god or government, to purloin the Rand-ish Rush, is so beautifully rendered in “The Fountainhead” and “We the Living.” How could you deny those two, people? I’ll give you “Atlas Shrugged” to burn on your funeral pyre, but at least give Rand a little credit, will ya?

  7. All of Ayn Rand’s fiction work was dreck. All of it. She was a shitty story-teller who should have stuck to philosophy, where nobody expects you to be entertaining.

  8. All of Ayn Rand’s fiction work was dreck. All of it. She was a shitty story-teller who should have stuck to philosophy, where nobody expects you to be entertaining.

    I dunno; “We the Living” didn’t completely suck. (And I hear it was made into a not-completely-sucking movie starring Alida Valli, whose most famous role was as Harry Lime’s girlfriend in “The Third Man.”)

  9. Tuccille’s unflattering portrait of Rand is especially enjoyable if, like me, you’re not a fan of hers.

  10. Perhaps he should re-issue the book with a new title: “It usually begins with Ayn Rand, but Julian Sanchez is still not going to fuck her.”

  11. I read Tuccille’s book when it first came out – about thirtyfive years ago. As a matter of fact, I liberated it from a government library; Jerry would have been proud!

    Oh wait! That was Jerry Rubin and his STEAL THIS BOOK. Wrong Jerry.

  12. I’d fuck Julian Sanchez.

  13. Yes, H&HB, but the point is: he won’t fuck you.

  14. Big surprise, Rand-bashing once again…

    For those of you who think Reason magazine would even be around without Rand-influenced writers and founders, think again. I had some fun at the local library looking up old issues, and they might have well called it “Galt’s Gulch Monthly”.

    But, I don’t expect that to get through to people who believe in libertarianism, but really don’t know why other than it sounds good.

  15. For those of you who think Reason magazine would even be around without Rand-influenced writers and founders, think again

    So? Doesn’t change the fact that she was a shitty fiction writer. Or the warmth it brings to the cockles of my heart to rattle your cage with it every time her name comes up. But hey, I’m apparently only interested in Libertarianism because all the cool kids are sitting around in tin-foil-hats these days, so what do I know?

  16. Stop all your bitching and go to amazon or barnesandnoble.com and buy a copy of Heretic: Confessions of an ex-Catholic Rebel. I promise you, the name Ayn Rand isn’t even mentioned until the end of the book. Lots of bellylaughs along the way.

  17. Hey, that really IS Tuccille’s website and that evidently really was Tuccille. Cool!

  18. Ayn Randroid,

    For those of you who think Reason magazine would even be around without Rand-influenced writers and founders, think again.

    I didn’t come to libertarianism via Reason either.

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