Chris Matthew Sciabarra is a dear friend and fine scholar. His book, Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical, is part of a broader Dialectics and Liberty trilogy. The other two books in the series are Marx, Hayek and Utopia and Total Freedom: Towards a Dialectical Libertarianism. All three are worth checking out, but this post focuses on The Russian Radical.
The second edition is even better than the first one. It contains a new preface and three appendixes. There are also some word additions and an expanded section on foreign policy.
The new material adds to an already fantastic book. My reading of it was immensely enjoyable and intellectually enriching. Chris does a good job of showing the depth of Rand’s thought without being a slavish follower who can find no flaws. One minor quibble with the book I have is his use of the term homeland to describe the American nation-state. It evokes fascist connotations, but I know that Chris was not using it to do that. There are really no other criticisms I have to make of the book. It’s just that well put together.
The new preface gives a good explanation of Chris’s broader project of situating libertarian thought within the dialectical tradition. He mentions detractors of both left and right who disagree with his assessment of Rand as a dialectical thinker. He affirms and defends his descriptive terms in able fashion. The appendices include two essays previously published in The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies with an additional new essay directed at the Ayn Rand Institute official biographer. Chris does a good job of bringing together evidence to defend his views.
The new material on foreign policy is clearly drawn from Chris’s article titled “Understanding the Global Crisis: Reclaiming Rand’s Radical Legacy”. It makes a fine addition to an already excellent book. The material brings the book up to date and offers commentary on what Rand may have supported in post 9-11 foreign policy. It also offers us greater detail and insight into Rand’s foreign policy prescriptions. A new quotation about Soviet Russia and World War 2 is provided.
The book is substantially the same, but this is not a problem. The original greatness of the text is preserved with useful additions. It’s still split into three parts with a fascinating biographical description of Rand’s education in Soviet Russia. This is followed by a philosophical examination that concludes with a more political part. The reader is definitely encouraged to pick up a copy of this new edition.