... an exhaustive and transfixing new biography ... Rosenberg had uncovered an astonishingly complex individual who was as petrified of being found out for her nontraditional gender identity as she was outspoken about human rights ... Jane Crow inspires at once a wonder at how much the brilliant Murray accomplished, as well as a deep sadness in how the world failed in many cases to acknowledge and celebrate her achievements.
...it’s not simply that her public struggles on behalf of women, minorities, and the working class suddenly seem more relevant than ever. It’s that her private struggles—documented for the first time in all their fullness by Rosenberg—have recently become our public ones ... a scholarly and methodical biography that is built, occasionally too obviously, from one hundred and thirty-five boxes of archival material ... Rosenberg mostly takes Murray at her word, though she also adds a new one: transgender. Such retroactive labelling can be troubling, but the choice seems appropriate here, given how explicitly Murray identified as male, and how much her quest for medical intervention mirrors one variety of trans experience today.
Rosenberg shows, Murray, never at ease psychologically, descended from a long line of mentally ill family members, and orphaned early—her father was murdered, and her mother was rendered frail by repeated childbirth—overcame countless obstacles throughout her life ... Assiduous research and clear prose give Murray her due.