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with an Introduction by Ayn Rand   

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"The Ominous Parallels offers a truly revolutionary idea in the field of the philosophy of history. The book is clear, tight, disciplined, beautifully structured, and brilliantly reasoned. Its style is clear and hard as crystal-and as sparkling. If you like my works, you will like this book. "

-- Ayn Rand

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Chapter 1: The Cause of Nazism

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About Leonard Peikoff


dr leonard peikoff profile photoIn 1951, when he was 17-years-old, Leonard Peikoff made a trip to California that changed the course of his life. 

Through a friend who knew her, he was invited to the home of Ayn Rand, the novelist and Objectivist philosopher. Thus began a friendship and professional association that was to last until her death on March 6, 1982.

Peikoff, whose first book was The Ominous Parallels is Rand's legal heir.

"I had read The Fountainhead as an adolescent at a time when I was searching for values," Peikoff says. "The novel had a hero I could admire. He was a guide as to how to live, a beacon in a world that seemed to be collapsing. Once I met Ayn, heard her speak, felt the force of her conviction and grasped the logic of her ideas, I knew I had found a direction."

Peikoff returned to his native Canada where he finished his pre-med program at the University of Manitoba. He traveled to New York every six months to visit with Rand who had moved back to the East Coast. In 1953, he decided to transfer to New York University and get a degree in philosophy. He continued to study there under Sidney Hook until 1964 when he obtained his doctorate. Through this period, his friendship with Ayn Rand deepened.

"I had the extraordinary good fortune to read Atlas Shrugged in manuscript as it was being written, and to ask the author all the questions I wished about her ideas," Peikoff says. "My knowledge of philosophy was primitive at the time, but she was tremendously gifted at explaining her ideas. She was also patient and recommended many books for me to read. We talked philosophy late into the night on countless occasions. It was, for me, an invaluable education."

Like several other bright young men who were part of the Rand inner circle (among them Alan Greenspan, Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board and former chairman of the President's Council of Economic Advisers), Peikoff was attracted to Objectivism because of its view "of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity and reason as his only absolute." From 1957 until 1973, Peikoff taught philosophy at Hunter College, Long Island University, New York University, the University of Denver and the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn.

From 1973, Peikoff worked full-time on The Ominous Parallels and gave lectures. His courses on Ayn Rand's philosophy, were given regularly in New York City, and were taped and played to interested groups in some 100 cities in the U.S., Canada and Europe. In addition, he spoke frequently before investment and financial conferences on the philosophic basis of capitalism.

"The book began originally as a three-lecture series titled 'Nazism and Contemporary America: The Ominous Parallels,' given in the spring of 1968," Peikoff says. "I was in the middle of the series, discussing the Nazi mentality, the very week of the student rebellion at Columbia University. This uprising was the final event that convinced me of the dangerous course America was traveling. I decided to expand the lectures into a book as soon as I could get enough free time. It [took] a long time to complete the book, but the danger signs are even more ominous today than they were when I first began writing."

The thesis of The Ominous Parallels is that all the philosophic principles that led to the rise of Nazism in Germany have their counterparts in contemporary America. As a result, the nation is moving, by default, towards the establishment of a Nazi-style totalitarian dictatorship.

Dr. Peikoff, who is a naturalized American citizen, was born in Winnipeg, Canada, in 1933. His father was a surgeon and his mother, before marriage, was a band leader in Western Canada. He has been a contributor to Barron's and an associate editor, with Ayn Rand, of The Objectivist (1968-71) and The Ayn Rand Letter (1971-76).

He is author of Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand (Dutton, 1991), the definitive statement of Objectivism. 

In her introduction to The Ominous Parallels, written about a year before her death, Ayn Rand said the book " ... offers a truly revolutionary idea in the field of the philosophy of history. The book is clear, tight, disciplined, beautifully structured and brilliantly reasoned. Its style is clear and hard as crystal — and as sparkling. If you like my works, you will like this book. As to my personal reaction, I can express it best by paraphrasing a line from Atlas Shrugged: 'It's so wonderful to see a great, new, crucial achievement which is not mine'."











 
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