Isabel Paterson was a novelist and a literary critic for the New York Herald-Tribune for more than two decades beginning in the 1920s. Her book The God of the Machine was a founding text of the modern libertarian movement as it grew in the '40s.
From her biographer Stephen Cox comes the first volume collecting some of her journalism and letters, Culture & Liberty (Transaction). Watching as she boldly swims against the currents of her time is inspiring. She wrote in 1933 that "we believe in the classic American concepts of a purely political government, which shall not undertake to save people's souls or provide them an income."
Ayn Rand considered Paterson, a one-time friend, one of the few modern thinkers from whom she'd learned. Even after their estrangement, Paterson in a 1957 letter was prescient and hopeful enough to write that Atlas Shrugged "will be a chunk of high explosive to 'public opinion.'…It may have a definite effect on future events, like Uncle Tom's Cabin."
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Founder of a Movement".