Cover image for Margaret Mead : coming of age in America
Margaret Mead : coming of age in America
Mark, Joan T., 1937-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Oxford University Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
110 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm.
Traces the life and work of the noted woman anthropologist whose studies of primitive cultures established her as an authority in her field.
Becoming an anthropologist -- Coming of age in Samoa and growing up in New Guinea -- Male and female in New Guinea -- With Gregory Bateson in Bali -- Helping a nation at war -- A public figure.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
GN21.M36 M39 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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The American anthropologist Margaret Mead (1901-1978) was barely 24 years old when she left New York to study the natives of Samoa, New Guinea, and other remote Pacific islands. Anthropological research to her was not a dull academic discipline but an adventure in which every little detail,from Balinese ritual dances to Polynesian tattooing, held enormous fascination. Her 1928 book--Coming of Age in Samoa--made her both famous and controversial. She boldly challenged the most deeply ingrained principles of the Western way of life: family structure, education, and child-rearing. Whenshe died in 1978, a Pacific tribe she befriended held a five-day ceremony in her honor normally reserved for their greatest chiefs. Joan Mark guides us through the most exciting anthropological discoveries of the 20th century while following Margaret Meads many triumphs around the globe inquick-paced, engrossing prose that reads like an adventure story. Oxford Portraits in Science is an ongoing series of scientific biographies. Written by top scholars and writers, each biography examines the personality of its subject as well as the thought process leading to his or her discoveries. These illustrated biographies combine accessible technicalinformation with compelling personal stories to portray the scientists whose work has shaped our understanding of the natural world.

Author Notes

Joan Mark is at Harvard University.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Gr. 6^-10. This Portraits in Science title provides an engaging, informative account of the life and works of the influential, pioneering anthropologist. Mead's research in Samoa and other primitive places in the early part of the century introduced the Western world to primitive cultures, whose traits and customs offered perspective about human development and behavior in general. Mead treated the different cultures not only as educational opportunities but also as groups worthy of understanding and respect, an important lesson in cultural diversity for readers. Mark does a fine job of abstracting Mead's research and published works and showing why they were both critically acclaimed and criticized. The reader-friendly prose is peppered with fascinating anecdotes and photos. Mead herself is presented as a complex, intriguing figure, with fascinating, often contradictory, public and private lives. An insightful, well-rounded profile that also introduces readers to the field of anthropology. --Shelle Rosenfeld

School Library Journal Review

Gr 6-10-This science biography focuses on the life of one of America's greatest anthropologists. Mead was the right person in the right place at the right time in a newly emerging discipline, and she spent her life shaping the field. At 24, fresh from her studies with Franz Boas, Mead traveled alone to Samoa and emerged a year later with the landmark coming-of-age study that would bring her fame. Mark begins this title with a frank discussion of her subject's childhood and those who influenced her. Anecdotes and Mead's personal letters and writings ensure that her personality and dedication to her work come through. The author recounts several adventurous research trips, a lifetime of lectures and writing, and a decidedly unconventional personal life. Mead's opinions and life style, including her three marriages, are discussed as is the controversy over the conclusions she formulated from her research. Although little is directly documented, the book is well researched, lively, and provocative. An insert explains the four subfields of anthropology and plenty of photographs, maps, and facsimile documents provide background information. An extensive list for further reading suggests material by and about Mead for those who wish to learn more about one of the most influential women of this century.-Jeanette Larson, Texas State Library, Austin (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.