>>Here are the Facts. Rand was born 1905 in St Petersburg(Petrograd later) Russia. Her family at first was sustained by a family pharmacy. Rand grew up in Bolshevik Russia, she experienced a civil war. She was a social reject clinging to books and then films. The family lost their pharmacy sometime. 1929 she went to America to visit relatives and never came back to Russia. She was asked by a friend to tell the world the truth about Russia, that they were dying.
Now for the highly opinionated part. If you support Rand please look away.
>> Rand's philosophy sounds great at first glance because she says so many things that we have to agree with some. Her rationality itself is flawed, she tries to justify some things that have (under observation) nothing to do with what she's using to justify them. She is a masochist because anyone who insults her generates PR for her philosophy of rational epistemology otherwise known as objectivism and is labeled by her followers as a clinger to collectivism.
>>Rand targets the youths because they are the most likely to blindly follow a philosophy that calls to their desire for wanting to know the meaning for life, and romantic affairs. She draws them in using rational self interest (letting your loved one drown because it would be in your own self interest to have joy afterwards and not die). Her poverty stricken youth fostered this selfishness (she even says that she has never needed to change her basic philosophy since age 3).
>>If you read the fountainhead or Atlas shrugged (which are both great books) you get drawn into the ideal of the Randean hero with the perfect morals. Rand calls herself a Randean hero, she is not. They don't exist past the teen years. They can't, not on this Earth. For more information about Rand read Reconsidering Ayn RandMichael B Yang. Its not such a great book, but it gets most of the main points across.