Books: Free Spirit

MADAME BLAVATSKY, THE WOMAN BEHIND THE MYTH by Marion Meade Putnam; 528 pages; $19.95

She claimed, falsely, to have been wounded while fighting in Garibaldi's army, to have crossed the Rocky Mountains in a covered wagon and to have learned ancient mysteries in a Tibetan lamasery. She knew how to charm snakes and people, roll cigarettes, and swear fluently in several languages. She learned horsemanship from Kalmuck tribesmen and was a superb rough-and-tumble rider. The granddaughter of a Russian princess, she cared nothing for Victorian morality, but insisted, after two marriages, several lovers...

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