Review: The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore

wonder woman For a superhero who has outlasted all by Superman, Batman and Captain America, she doesn’t get the recognition she deserves.  She was created to inspire young woman to take up their rightful place in society as her creator William Moultan Marston once stated that in the next 1,000 years, Woman will rule the world.  He wanted a superhero that embody female strength can be just as strong as any man if not stronger. To truly understand Wonder Woman and her place in history, you really have to know who origins and the man (and the women who inspired) who created her.  William Moultan Marston was an heir to a family with a long history.  An only child who was doted on by his mother and four aunts.  His wife, Elizabeth Holloway Marston, was just as educated as he was and was often the breadwinner of the family and his other wife, Olive Byrne (yep, he had two wives) was once his student and the caretaker.  He was a lawyer and academic.  He invented the lie detector.  He wrote screenplays and worked for Universal Studios during the earlier days of Hollywood.  He was a little bit of everything and a little bit of a mess. He failed as more then he succeeded but all of it culminated in creating Wonder Woman.  Wonder Woman’s lasso of truth was an extension of his life work of seeking truth through his own lie detector machine and research.  Wonder Woman’s bracelets were inspired by his second wife’s, Olive Byrne,bracelet that she wore instead of a wedding ring.  Speaking of Olive she was the niece of Margaret Sanger.  Champion for birth control and founder of Planned Parenthood.  Feminism was strong in the family.  Actually the suffragist movement very much influenced Wonder Woman as the stories and imagery can be seen all over the the early Wonder Woman comic book.  This was a very easy read that goes into the great detail of William Marsters life and highlight moments in his life that he drew upon to create his Amazonian.  It may take a while before you get the actual creation of Wonder Woman but Jill Lepore does a great job of showcasing how people, situations and politics would influence Moultan Marsters and how they ended up in his work.  How an old professor turned into Dr. Psycho.  Or how the art of Lou Rogers inspired story lines.  How the likes of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady shaped Wonder Woman’s character and how his own wives and children breathed life into her as well.  Sadly, it also shows how the Wonder Woman changed after Marster’s death.  Like many women after World War Two, Wonder Woman was forced back into the kitchens even if it went against her origins.  She may have gone completely by the wayside if it wasn’t for Women’s movement in the 60’s and 70’s but even then she wasn’t the same.  It’s sad to see that many of the issues that Wonder Woman faced in the late 30’s and 40’s we are still facing today.  The criticism of her is still charged against many female protagonist of any genre. Progress has been made but we are still so much to go.  You to like this book you don’t know need to know anything about Wonder Woman or even comics to enjoy it.  You just need to have an appreciation for a good story and kick ass woman.

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