Middle American

Edmund Leach

  • Margaret Mead: A Life by Jane Howard
    Harvill, 527 pp, £12.95, October 1984, ISBN 0 00 272515 0
  • With a Daughter’s Eye: A Memoir of Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson by Mary Catherine Bateson
    Morrow, 242 pp, $15.95, July 1984, ISBN 0 688 03962 6

Both these books are, in part, by-products of the furore that was generated in 1983 by the publication of Derek Freeman’s Margaret Mead and Samoa: The Making and Unmaking of an Anthropological Myth and I had better declare where I stand. I have known Derek Freeman for nearly forty years. I consider that his criticism of the work of the youthful Margaret Mead was Justified but academically unnecessary. I met Margaret Mead on only four occasions and very briefly; I did not find her sympatica. Reo Fortune, Mead’s second husband, was my faculty colleague in Cambridge for many years. Her third husband, Gregory Bateson, for whose intellectual originality I have an enormous respect, was a personal friend.

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