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Children's LiteratureAnthropologist Margaret Mead is an intriguing subject for biography. Outspoken and opinionated all her life, Mead attained early fame with her best-selling book, Coming of Age in Samoa (1928), and went on to investigate other societies in New Guinea and Bali. She was adept at presenting cultural anthropology to the general public through lectures, articles, and personal appearances, as well as through her books. Unconventional for the times, her private life included three marriages and divorces and an intimate relationship with fellow anthropologist Ruth Benedict. As time went on, Mead espoused many causes related to gender differences, adolescence, personality development, and sexual relationships. In later life she became an icon of anthropology to the public and a target of criticism from her colleagues. The best part of this volume in the "Greenwood Biographies" series is the last, where the author discusses some of these criticisms and explores the question (with material based on a 2001 conference), "What would Margaret Mead say today?" Although the information is fascinating, it is presented, unfortunately, in an inept and pedantic style, ill suited to its intended audience. It would be a hardy student who slogs her way through this awkward and often murky prose when other memoirs and biographies are available. Included are four small black-and-white photographs, a timeline, a glossary, and an index. The color photo on the cover is the book's most vibrant image of Mead, captured in her long blue cloak, holding her pronged shepherd's crook and staring level-eyed at the viewer. 2003, Greenwood, Ages 14 up.
— Barbara L. Talcroft