Andrew Stuttaford has a nice, balanced memoriam in the The New York Sun to Ayn Rand; 2005 is the centennial of her birth:
Rand’s nonfiction may have a greater claim to intellectual respectability, but it was the lurid, occasionally harsh, simplicities of her novels that would deliver her message to the mass audience she believed was out there. She was right. Her key insight was to realize that there was an appetite among Americans for a moral case for capitalism. In a restless age that believed in the Big Answer, neither historical tradition nor utilitarian notions of efficiency would suffice. Ayn Rand gave Americans that case, perhaps not the best case, but a case, and she knew how to sell it.
The establishment always disapproved. Critics sneered. Academics jeered. The publishers Macmillan turned down “Anthem” (1938), saying that Rand, a refugee from the Soviet Union, “did not understand socialism.” Oh, but she did, and so did those millions of Americans who bought her books, books that played their part in ensuring that the dull orthodoxies of collectivism never prevailed here.
The last image in Mr. Britting’s biography is of an exultant Rand speaking at a conference in New Orleans in 1981, the final public appearance of this magnificent, brilliant oddball. Her hosts tried to lure her there with the promise of payment in gold coins and travel in a private rail car.
Needless to say, she accepted.
Read the whole thing.