Margaret Mead: A Life of Controversy

Phyllis Grosskurth, Author Penguin Books $4.95 (96p) ISBN 978-0-14-008760-4
A more controversial woman is hard to imagine: Mead retained her maiden name in the 1920s; married three times in search of a suitable partner to father a child; undertook a journey to Samoa to establish herself as an anthropologist; and later defended herself vigorously against charges that her field work had been shoddy. Part of a series of short biographies called Lives of Modern Women, this slim book by the author of Melanie Klein captures the energy, egotism and righteous anger of Mead, who was never afraid to speak her mind and was always certain she was right. Eminently evenhanded, Grosskurth ably acknowledges Mead's accomplishment--making people aware that ``anthropological insight'' can be applied ``to universal social problems''--as she presents the arguments of her strongest critics. Interweaving anecdotes and opinions from friends and colleagues of Mead, Grosskurth paints a portrait of a complex and fascinating woman, whose fame remains undiminished by attacks on her methodology. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/01/1989
Release date: 09/01/1989
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