What do lie detectors, Margaret Sanger, and a strange yet functional ménage á trois have in common? Each is part of The Secret History of Wonder Woman (Knopf, $29.95). As expertly presented by Harvard historian and The New Yorker writer, Jill Lepore, this account centers on William Moulton Marston (1893-1947), a psychologist and developer of the lie detector, a crank and a charmer, who, by the mid-1930s had lost progressively less distinguished university positions, been fired as a consultant, and gone broke in the 1929 crash. Only a superhero could save him, and with Wonder Woman, his future was assured. Marston saw his Amazonian vision into print in 1941; though he declared that the comic was part of “a great movement underway, the growth in the power of women,” his feminism, like much else about him, was sketchy. With many talented women comic artists to choose from, he worked with a man. Meanwhile, his wife supported him through extended unemployment and his mistress—Margaret Sanger’s niece—stayed home with his children, her own and those of Mrs. Marston; all lived under one roof. The biography is sensational, but Lepore deftly integrates it into her chronicle of comics and the controversies that rose with their popularity, as well as her insightful tracing of 20th-century feminism, from the 1910s and woman suffrage to the 1970s, MS magazine, and Wonder Woman’s bold leap to TV.
The Secret History of Wonder Woman - Jill Lepore
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Knopf Publishing Group - October 28th, 2014
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Published: Vintage - July 7th, 2015