Sunday, November 12, 2017

*Review* The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore

Genre: Nonfiction
Published: October 28, 2014
Pages: 410

A riveting work of historical detection revealing that the origin of Wonder Woman, one of the world’s most iconic superheroes, hides within it a fascinating family story—and a crucial history of twentieth-century feminism.

Harvard historian and New Yorker staff writer Jill Lepore has uncovered an astonishing trove of documents, including the never-before-seen private papers of William Moulton Marston, Wonder Woman’s creator. Beginning in his undergraduate years at Harvard, Marston was influenced by early suffragists and feminists, starting with Emmeline Pankhurst, who was banned from speaking on campus in 1911, when Marston was a freshman. In the 1920s, Marston and his wife, Sadie Elizabeth Holloway, brought into their home Olive Byrne, the niece of Margaret Sanger, one of the most influential feminists of the twentieth century. The Marston family story is a tale of drama, intrigue, and irony. In the 1930s, Marston and Byrne wrote a regular column for Family Circle celebrating conventional family life, even as they themselves pursued lives of extraordinary nonconformity. Marston, internationally known as an expert on truth—he invented the lie detector test—lived a life of secrets, only to spill them on the pages of Wonder Woman.

The Secret History of Wonder Woman 
is a tour de force of intellectual and cultural history. Wonder Woman, Lepore argues, is the missing link in the history of the struggle for women’s rights—a chain of events that begins with the women’s suffrage campaigns of the early 1900s and ends with the troubled place of feminism a century later.
This edition includes a new afterword with fresh revelations based on never before seen letters and photographs from the Marston family’s papers.

With 161 illustrations and 16 pages in full color

With all the Wonder Woman hubbub going on, I decided I should probably read this. That way I can be a step above all my friends with knowledge and hipster the hell out of everyone about everything. Alas, this was way more about William Moulton Marston than Wonder Woman herself, so there’s not much I learned about her while reading this.

Although I did find the story of her creation to be quite interesting. It’s especially something to keep an open mind about, because she was first published in the early 1940s, and was controlled by many men. Men that were still ignorant to the fact that they’re sexist disgusting pigs, btw. But that’s a rant that doesn’t need to be made within this review.

I did find it fascinating how much resistance came to Wonder Woman actually being a legit super hero. Although it was dumb as shit the reasons for the resistance, but again - this started in the 1940s. I also never noticed how much bondage type of situations she went through, and I’ve gone through her old issues in anthology catalogues. But apparently that was a bit thing.

The big thing I think people are supposed to take from this is that the creator was in a polygamous relationship. But honestly, I don’t GAF. It seemed like a functioning household and they all raised children successfully. So, good on them. Sorry they lived in a society that was full of a bunch of ignorant asshats.

Oh, and Marston’s invention of the lie-detector is also a big part of this story. I mean, good on him for that. He was pretty smart and I think, especially for the time, he was a decent person. But the lie-detector is mostly bullshit. So, there’s that opinion of mine.

I think the most important thing to take away from this is how seriously the author took the history of this comic. This wasn’t a bunch of fluff and drivel. Instead we’re given a whole bunch of information about the creator and then what happened to the comic after his death. And how it suffered at the hands of people who are sexist pigs… because that’s especially important. If you haven’t yet noticed how much that pissed me off… because I keep saying it.

Interesting story. Not what I was expecting. It’s something for more die-hard fans to check out.

3.0007 and 5/72nds platypires - Joood - Hooligan

Jill Lepore is the David Woods Kemper '41 Professor of American History at Harvard University and a staff writer at The New Yorker. She received her Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale in 1995. Her first book, "The Name of War," won the Bancroft Prize; her 2005 book, "New York Burning," was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. In 2008 she published "Blindspot," a mock eighteenth-century novel, jointly written with Jane Kamensky. Lepore's most recent book, "The Whites of Their Eyes," is a New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice.

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