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This critique however is rather specialized. For the vast majority of readers unfamiliar with the intricacies of the history of American anthropology will be impressed by a sympathetic portrait of two of the most influential women in anthropology to date. The fact that Benedict and Mead were lovers is now well known and their "friendship" is contextualized within women's studies, feminist psychology, and lesbian studies. The author, herself a lesbian, adds great insight into the nature of their relationship for she points out it was not condcuted in isolation. It is her examination of Benedict's and Mead's "friendship cirlces" that I found particularly insightful. By friendship the author is refering to the twentieth century version of what Carol Smith-Rosenberg called "the female world of love and ritual". The author also does not dwell too much on the sexual aspect of their relationship, a trap that might have sold more books but infringed on the dignity of Benedict and Mead.
In short, Lapsley's book is not a biography in any sense but a particularly personal portrait of two women, friends and lovers throughout their lives. As such, she sheds new light on their work and lives for both those interested in the history of anthropology and those with a general interest in Benedict and Mead.