I have been discussing some of the people who broke with Rand, including Murray Rothbard, Henry Mark Holzer and John Hospers.
Barbara Branden says that starting with the publication of Atlas Shrugged many people entered Rand’s orbit. “Some of her new friends circled her orbit for a few weeks, some remained for months, some remained for years; but with very few exceptions, the relationships were ruptured in anger as Ayn felt her friends to have failed reason, morality and herself.” (PAR, p. 311-12.) I don’t read PAR as alleging that Rand never had good reason to split with people, or that the split was always Rand’s fault, or that every split ended in some sort of excommunication. So I don’t think it undermines Branden’s biography to point out that Rand had good reason to sever her relationship with John Hospers.
It is also true that many of this who split with Rand have confirmed the accuracy of parts of Branden’s biography. In the current issue of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies Robert Hessen states:
“As an eyewitness to many such outbursts [Rand’s interactions with questioners], I can verify that Ms. Branden’s claim was accurate and not exaggerated.”
Justin Raimondo, in his biography of Rothbard, quotes a 1954 letter from Rothbard to Richard Cornuelle. Rothbard writes:
“[George Reisman] found himself under a typical vitriolic Randian barrage, according to which anyone who is not now or soon will be a one-hundred percent Randian Rationalist is an ‘enemy’ and an ‘objective believer in death and destruction’ as well as crazy.” (An Enemy of the State, p. 110.)
Interestingly, some who broke with Rand are, as Valliant acknowledges, no fans of the Brandens.
Unfortunately, it seems that almost all we have to go on is people’s recollections. I don’t know of many recordings, documents or journals that shed much light on the issue.