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I was first introduced to Janet Malcolm through _In the Freud Archives_, her perspicacious and diverting profile of Jeffrey Masson, the bad-boy scholar who wrote _The Assault on Truth_. I remembered that she is a talented writer, but I was not prepared for her intelligent and fluid presence in this book, which is part biography, part a critical reading of Stein's most daunting text, and part a portrait of Stein's own biographers and critics, among whom Malcolm must now number herself. It is a tour de force -- and in not much more than 200 pages, while also answering to her own satisfaction, her original inquisitive biographical query: "How had the pair of elderly Jewish lesbians survived the Nazis?" I finished with a much deeper appreciation of Stein's prose and a clearer picture of her relationship with Alice B. Toklas, but most of all, a profound new respect for Malcolm the writer. Will have to check out her Ted Hughes/Sylvia Plath book now. 

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Interesting [true] story of how Gertrude and Alice managed to live/survive Vichy France during WW2 despite being Jewish and lesbianic types. Fascinating reading for anyone truly interested in Stein and Toklas, but probably a bit boring for anyone else. Always nice to learn more about Stein/Toklas (and get the real dirt). Anyone who has read _The Making of Americans_ certainly deserves our admiration - Malcolm has done her homework (!) 

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Dianne Hunter's review: This tabloid-fodder, skeptical reportage borders on despicable. Part I recycles a NEW YORKER essay on Stein & Toklas's apparent imperturbability in Nazi France, and their friendship with Bernard Fay, whom Toklas later helped to escape from prison. Part II examines THE MAKING OF AMERICANS, retails gossipy findings by and about Stein scholars Katz, Dydo, Rice, Burns et al., and discusses treacherous researchers, narrative theft, and Janet Malcolm's struggle with her ignorance of Gertrude Stein. Malcolm, who is herself a refugee from Naziism, zaps Stein for publicizing her cheerfulness, genius and confidence but not her Jewishness, depression or lesbianism. Part III starts by mollifying the book's previous malice, then turns its baleful gaze on Toklas as a poor relation, and ends by mocking her Roman Catholicism. This (2007) quasi-biographical search for dirt and lies centers on what it means to be Jewish and on Malcolm's bafflement and incredulity about Stein & Toklas's worthiness to be loved. Malcolm wonders how a fat, Jewish lesbian could have gotten on so well. Kudos to Leon Katz for avoiding Malcolm's attempts to appropriate more of his work. 

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