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One Winter’s Night

Gunnar Pettersson, 18 May 1989

Death of a Statesman: The Solution to the Murder of Olof Palme 
by Ruth Freeman.
Hale, 205 pp., £12.95, March 1989, 0 7090 3698 1
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... of Middle Eastern power politics in general. Two writers appearing under the pseudonym Ruth Freeman now claim to have located the solution, if not the murderer, in one of the most obscure and unpredictable places of all – the Mukhabarat, a branch of the Iraqi secret service dealing with opponents to the Hussein regime. The story begins in ...

Middle American

Edmund Leach, 7 March 1985

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

The Punishment of Margaret Mead

Marilyn Strathern, 5 May 1983

Margaret Mead and Samoa: The Making and Unmaking of an Anthropological Myth 
by Derek Freeman.
Harvard, 379 pp., £11.95, March 1983, 0 674 54830 2
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... preoccupied him for forty years, including many more in Samoa than Mead ever had. Derek Freeman argues that in being ideologically committed to representing Samoan emotional (and sexual) life as ‘graceful, easy, diffuse’, Mead did not face up to the true nature of this dignified, authoritarian and punishing society. Essentially he is concerned ...

Culture and Personality

Caroline Humphrey, 31 August 1989

Margaret Mead: A Life of Controversy 
by Phyllis Grosskurth.
Penguin, 96 pp., £3.99, May 1989, 0 14 008760 5
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Ruth Benedict: Stranger in the Land 
by Margaret Caffrey.
Texas, 432 pp., $24.95, February 1989, 0 292 74655 5
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... its variations, one who understands humanity in some broad, if rather intuitive and dreamy way: Ruth Benedict, though her work is deeply unfashionable today, has this kind of position. Though both of these visions of the anthropologist have a certain plausibility, they hardly justify the tendency of recent biographies, particularly of Mead, to create ...

Deadly Eliza

Ruth Bernard Yeazell: ‘The Whole Family: A Novel by Twelve Authors’, 1 November 2001

The Whole Family: A Novel by Twelve Authors 
by William Dean Howells et al.
Duke, 416 pp., £13.50, November 2001, 0 8223 2838 0
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Publishing the Family 
by June Howard.
Duke, 304 pp., £13.50, November 2001, 0 8223 2771 6
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... originally relegated to the tenth chapter, but who arrived in the next instalment, by Mary Wilkins Freeman, to drop what the editor later termed ‘a bomb-shell on our literary hearthstone’. Strenuously resisting Howells’s characterisation of the aunt even as she took unexpected charge of the plot, Freeman initiated the ...

Putting things in boxes

Adam Kuper: Margaret Mead, 24 May 2007

To Cherish the Life of the World: Selected Letters of Margaret Mead 
edited by Margaret Caffrey and Patricia Francis.
Basic Books, 429 pp., £17.99, September 2006, 0 465 00815 1
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... unplaced grace of the most complete fragility,’ she gushed in a letter to the anthropologist Ruth Benedict. ‘You’ve no idea how moving six feet four of vulnerable beauty is. He gets all the points, is extraordinarily sensitive to people.’ Mead and Fortune set up camp on the shore of Lake Chambri near Bateson’s field site, and began a four-month ...

Diamond Daggers

Stephen Wall, 28 June 1990

Death’s Darkest Face 
by Julian Symons.
Macmillan, 272 pp., £12.95, May 1990, 0 333 51783 0
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Vendetta 
by Michael Dibdin.
Faber, 281 pp., £12.99, June 1990, 0 571 14332 6
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Gallowglass 
by Barbara Vine.
Viking, 296 pp., £13.99, March 1990, 0 670 83241 3
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... in old Daimlers, we might also be in a typical detective story of the period, expecting, say, Freeman Wills Crofts’s Inspector French to look in at any moment. Technically, what has to be explained is the disappearance of the bohemian and not over-scrupulous poet Hugo Headley. His clothes are found on the shore, but he is known to be a strong swimmer ...

The Way of the Wobble

Peter Campbell: Ove Arup, 5 April 2007

Ove Arup: Masterbuilder of the 20th Century 
by Peter Jones.
Yale, 364 pp., £25, November 2006, 0 300 11296 3
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... Telford’s bridge over the Menai Straits, the Roeblings’ Brooklyn Bridge, and bridges by Freeman Fox over the Severn and the Bosphorus. A suspension bridge also provided what is probably – because recorded on film – the most widely publicised of all civil engineering failures, the collapse in 1940, owing to wind-induced oscillations, of the ...

The Swaddling Thesis

Thomas Meaney: Margaret Mead, 6 March 2014

Return from the Natives: How Margaret Mead Won the Second World War and Lost the Cold War 
by Peter Mandler.
Yale, 366 pp., £30, March 2013, 978 0 300 18785 4
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... Blackfoot Indians. Since her death in 1978, Mead’s reputation has foundered. In the 1980s, Derek Freeman, a right-wing Australian anthropologist, set off a brief frenzy in the culture wars when he tried to argue that her Samoan fieldwork was botched. But the more damaging criticisms have come from anthropologists to Mead’s left. They blame her for ...

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