If the text follows the taped course, it will be a welcome edition to the “unofficial” (i.e., post Rand) Objectivist corpus. My comments here do not deal with that issue, since I just downloaded the e-book Nook version, and have not read the text, much less compared it to the original taped course. My concern here is with the very odd discussion in the book’s Preface, first by the editor, Michael Berliner, followed by Peikoff's luke-warm, almost ambivalent (non?)endorsement of the text (to break the suspense, he has not read any of it! No, really!).
Berliner starts out in his preface with a series of qualifications about the finished product, stating that the text required “a significant amount of editing,” but hastening to add that he did not “edit for philosophic content.”
He then states that he only had access to the taped version, not to any original manuscript. But having said that, he then adds that a “word-for-word transcript resides in the Ayn Rand Archives,” which brings up the question of why he did not use that transcript as a base for his editing? Surely, the Archives would have given him access (he is their "senior advisor,"} and has had a long reign as the first Executive Director of the Ayn Rand Institute from its founding in 1985 to january 2000, and is now co-chairman of its Board of Directors. Sounds to me like the Archives would have let him in!
If that seems odd, it pales in comparison to the follow-up to Berliner by Leonard Peikoff, which amounts to a series of statements disclaiming any editorial involvement in the project! He starts out by announcing that “My own age and priorities make it impossible to undertake such a task…. (that I) Had no part in their work at any stage – no guiding discussion, no reading of these manuscripts, not even a glance at early or final stages. ” because even a glance might reveal errors’ requiring him to read more “which is precisely what is out of the question.”
To sum up his view of the final edited document, he adds “Please keep two things in mind: Michael Berliner is an excellent editor, and I have no idea as to what he has done with this book.” (italics are mine).
These statements are, to me, one of the most startling - and bizarre - statements that I have ever read from an author or lecturer about a book published under his own name, even if edited. I cannot imagine Rand (or anyone else) allowing a book of her lectures to be published without even bothering to read what was to be issued in her name. I don't know what his other "priorities" are that he alludes to - perhaps he is ill - but even that would not account for the bizarre (almost) disavowal of a project bearing his own name.
Edited by Jerry Biggers, 14 March 2012 - 11:10 PM.