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Return from the Natives: How Margaret Mead Won the Second World War and Lost the Cold War Hardcover – 5 Mar 2013

4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (5 Mar. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300187858
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300187854
  • Product Dimensions: 17.3 x 3.5 x 23.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 832,117 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'Peter Mandler's account of an important episode in the history of American social science is carefully researched, balanced and consistently interesting.'--Adam Kuper, " TLS"--Adam Kuper"TLS" (05/23/2014)

Peter Mandler s account of an important episode in the history of American social science is carefully researched, balanced and consistently interesting. Adam Kuper, " TLS"--Adam Kuper"TLS" (05/23/2014)"

"Mandler has done an excellent job recovering the important work they did and showing that Mead et al. were not simply 'nervous liberals' defending their ideals but part of a wider mobilization of intellectuals and scholars that sought to promote liberal and universalist values worldwide."" "David Ekbladh, "Journal of American Studies"--David Ekbladh "Journal of American Studies ""

"An outstanding scholarly accomplishment and a most intriguing and provocative book." Michael E./i>--Michael E. Latham"Journal of Cold War Studies" (12/01/2014)"

About the Author

Peter Mandler is professor of modern cultural history at the University of Cambridge. Among his books is The English National Character, published by Yale. He lives in Cambridge and London.


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By reader 451 TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 21 Dec. 2013
Format: Hardcover
I had never heard of Margaret Mead, but apparently she was famous in her time, which is to say the 1930s to the 70s, being the publisher of bestsellers, magazine interviews, and so forth. Her career spanned the early days of anthropology to its full bloom as an academic discipline. Much has already been written about her, though, and Peter Mandler's book focuses on her career in government service during WWI and the early years of the cold war. Like many of her colleagues, Mead got involved helping military and government personnel to deal with cultural difference, starting with the American-British relationship and expanding to the Germans, Japanese, and others. Some anthropologists were enlisted on the side of psychological warfare, but Mead chose to focus on a future peace and reconstruction. As the cold war began, she hoped to pursue an agenda of cultural respect and care for diversity. The realities of confrontation with the communist block, however, meant that the US government had other ideas. Repeated misunderstandings eventually caused Mead to leave official service, but not before she had earned herself, and for a while anthropology, a bad name associated with economic imperialism and manipulation.

This is a book that asks important and interesting question, then, such as about cultural respect and warfare, and cultural diversity and development. It offers fascinating insights into the early decades of anthropology, with its quirky theories and colourful personalities. It also tracks, from an unusual angle, the US from isolationism to world power. My only complaint is that it allocates perhaps too much space to Mead's private life, a terrain that has already been covered and sometimes distracts from the main subject.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x944e25d0) out of 5 stars 2 reviews
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x941d8168) out of 5 stars Heroine of anthrolopogy 21 Dec. 2013
By reader 451 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I had never heard of Margaret Mead, but apparently she was famous in her time, which is to say the 1930s to the 70s, being the publisher of bestsellers, magazine interviews, and so forth. Her career spanned the early days of anthropology to its full bloom as an academic discipline. Much has already been written about her, though, and Peter Mandler's book focuses on her career in government service during WWI and the early years of the cold war. Like many of her colleagues, Mead got involved helping military and government personnel to deal with cultural difference, starting with the American-British relationship and expanding to the Germans, Japanese, and others. Some anthropologists were enlisted on the side of psychological warfare, but Mead chose to focus on a future peace and reconstruction. As the cold war began, she hoped to pursue an agenda of cultural respect and care for diversity. The realities of confrontation with the communist block, however, meant that the US government had other ideas. Repeated misunderstandings eventually caused Mead to leave official service, but not before she had earned herself, and for a while anthropology, a bad name associated with economic imperialism and manipulation.

This is a book that asks important and interesting question, then, such as about cultural respect and warfare, and cultural diversity and development. It offers fascinating insights into the early decades of anthropology, with its quirky theories and colourful personalities. It also tracks, from an unusual angle, the US from isolationism to world power. My only complaint is that it allocates perhaps too much space to Mead's private life, a terrain that has already been covered and sometimes distracts from the main subject. More original quotations from her books would also have been interesting. Mead came from a school of anthropology that married culture and neo-Freudian psychology, and some of her theories could sometimes be rather weird. These are minor complaints, however, and this is a thoughtful and interesting book overall.
HASH(0x941d83b4) out of 5 stars diving into this one is a good idea. If you’re looking for a light read ... 14 Aug. 2015
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mandler’s closely-researched prosopography of Mead, Bateson, and Geoffrey Gorer during World War II is one of the few books on anthropology during this period. A historian of national character studies and not an anthropologist, Mandler is blissfully free from the complex baggage that most anthropologists bring to discussions of Mead. This extremely detailed account presents Mead as a flawed but decent person making complex choices in challenging times. Bateson and Gorer come across as much more loser, though. If you’re serious about the history of the discipline, diving into this one is a good idea. If you’re looking for a light read on Mead, skip it.
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