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Intertwined Lives: Margaret Mead, Ruth Benedict, and Their Circle
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Intertwined Lives: Margaret Mead, Ruth Benedict, and Their Circle

3.62  ·  Rating Details ·  42 Ratings  ·  10 Reviews
A uniquely revealing biography of two eminent twentieth century American women. Close friends for much of their lives, Ruth Benedict and Margaret Mead met at Barnard College in 1922, when Mead was a student, Benedict a teacher. They became sexual partners (though both married), and pioneered in the then male-dominated discipline of anthropology. They championed racial and ...more
Paperback, 576 pages
Published December 7th 2004 by Vintage (first published 2003)
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After reading the disappointment that was Derek Freeman's Margaret Mead and the Heretic: The Making and Unmaking of an Anthropological Myth, I decided to try this other bio I've had on my shelf for a while to see if Banner's opinion was any different. It was. And it was written better, had better information, and covered more ground. So take that, Freeman!

To be fair, Banner's biography was not solely about Margaret Mead and her time spent in Samoa. Her focus was on Margaret Mead and that other w
Ginger K
Jul 28, 2007 Ginger K rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: students of anthropology's history
I wanted to like this book. And I did learn biographical information about Margaret Mead and Ruth Benedict, and a great deal of historical information about America in the early twentieth century, particularly between the world wars. Unfortunately, the sexual relationship between the two alluded to on the cover is not well supported in the text - the primary supporting source is a poem, Banner's interpretation of which left me scratching my head. Mead and Benedict's other romantic entanglements, ...more
Jenny Yates
Jul 14, 2012 Jenny Yates rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book very much. I really didn’t know much about Margaret Mead and Ruth Benedict, and hadn’t a clue that they were lovers, so that was a revelation. They are both amazing women and I really appreciated the chance to get to know them better.

The book follows Mead and Benedict from birth, covers their relationship with each other and their relationships with others, lingers on their work, and continues until Benedict’s death. One of the book’s flaws is that it then ends, leaving me t
Jul 01, 2014 jrendocrine rated it did not like it
I got to p 170 of 443 - but I have to give up in a fit of pique.
Typical backstory - read and loved Euphoria, got interested in Margaret Mead, read somewhere that this was a good book. It's not. In fact, it might make you dislike Mead...
Overall - it's 2 biographies in one - Mead and Ruth Benedict, who the biographer (Lois Banner) contends had a life long love affair. Banner is more interested in sister politics (and myth making) than in Mead. The research is sophomoric - and the assertions endles
Aug 26, 2011 Emalee rated it really liked it
I thought that reading about Margaret Mead was so fascinating. I have always thought she was interesting, but did not know until I found this book that she was at all queer. It seems clear from her choices over her lifetime that she was truly bisexual (using today's terminology) but that she struggled with the definition & experience of her sexuality. I felt a fair amount of sympathy and empathy with her vascillations, even these many decades later. Ruth Benedict was also an interesting char ...more
Sandy D.
This is the biography of two famous female anthropologists, mostly in the years from 1900-1940. The book really draws you in, using a gossipy style with lots of fascinating quotes from both Mead’s & Benedict’s unpublished letters, diaries, etc., as well as letters from Mead’s three husbands, family members, college roommates, and many other famous anthropologists. It is very well-researched, and explains the background to many wild stories I heard as a grad student in anthropology.

It also gi
Chris Beal
Jan 26, 2015 Chris Beal rated it it was amazing
This book is a thoroughly researched biography and absolutely fascinating. I marked it as read, but actually I read around in it -- it's not necessary to read chronologically. The author seems to have an agenda -- that of showing the multiplicity and commonality of lesbian relationships at a time when such things were kept under cover -- but that agenda doesn't keep her from doing an excellent job of opening up the lives of these two famous women. Highly recommended both for the curious layperso ...more
Kate Lawrence
Oct 11, 2016 Kate Lawrence rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
Those deeply interested in the development of anthropology--both as an academic discipline and in field studies among indigenous peoples--and in gender studies in the early 20th century will love this book. I found it too detailed overall, although the parts about the lives and relationships of the two women were worthwhile. Because the book is centered on the relationship between Benedict and Mead, it ends with the death of Benedict, who died 30 years before Mead did. I was disappointed that it ...more
Jul 14, 2014 Nicole rated it it was amazing
Well written and well researched book about the complicated and "intertwined lives" of Ruth Benedict, Margaret Mead, and their close friends. I would say a must read book for anyone interested in anthropology.
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