For anyone interested in Janet Malcolm this slim little book is the one that got her into all the trouble, and for that alone it's worth reading. Taking on the intricately insular world of latter-day Freudian scholarship, even as it details the early history of psychoanalysis with typical precision, the book earned the ire of one of Malcolm's subjects here, Jeffrey Masson, a psychoanalyst who appeared from her account to be rather shallow and frivolous, more interested in cultivating his own charisma and cult of adoration. Masson didn't like that so he went after Malcolm with a $10 million lawsuit that kept her virtually tied up in legal minutiae for a decade or more, as one of the issues went all the way to the Supreme Court before the case was remanded back to a jury trial. Masson denied saying some of the things Malcolm attributed to him, such as that he was, after Freud, the greatest analyst who had ever lived and that he had slept with more than 1,000 women. In turn, Malcolm could not produce the statements in question on tape, though later she claimed to have found a notebook with some verification of them. The jury found for Malcolm, saying that Masson's case was simply insufficient, which was something less than a ringing endorsement of Malcolm's journalism. Thus a cloud has been left over them both, and I still see people popping up randomly in comments sections on the Internet to condemn her in absolute terms as a fabricator. It's hard for me to believe, based on the consistency and quality of Malcolm's research during her career, but I don't know any better than anyone else who wasn't there what actually transpired and was said between the two. We will never know. In fairness, Malcolm's objections to that point for tape-recording her subjects—"the practice of depending on a tape recording makes for a lifelessness in the way you report," she has written. "It makes you lazy and inert"—has not helped her case much. On the other hand, she's right, as anyone who has ever attempted to transcribe an interview already knows—people don't speak in perfectly formulated thoughts, and the attempt to clarify the intent of an interview subject's words is one constantly fraught with peril, particularly if your subject has a litigious bent. If I were going to be scrupulously fair about all this I would take the time to read some of Masson's work in order to better judge his credibility relative to Janet Malcolm's. But I'm basically already sold on Malcolm's integrity, and besides, Masson does come off as a bit of an ass, and not just in Malcolm's book. I realize this makes me somewhat less than scrupulously fair.