Friday, October 24, 2014

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NY1 teams with contributors from The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, New York Magazine, Slate.com and Essence Magazine to review the latest books and book-related trends.

The Book Reader: 'The Secret History of Wonder Woman'

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TWC News: The Book Reader: 'The Secret History of Wonder Woman'
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Abraham Riesman of New York Magazine reports on newly released book titles and the world of publishing in The Book Reader.

You've heard about the invisible jet and the magic lasso. But have you heard about the polygamy and the radical feminism?

In "The Secret History of Wonder Woman," Jill Lepore takes a deep dive into the fascinating and often kinky life of the man who created the superpowered comic-book amazon.

Don't let the book's title scare you. This history isn't just for comics nerds. In fact, the book is barely about Wonder Woman at all. Instead, it's about the controversial and salacious life of her inventor, a man named William Moulton Marston. Any reader with an interest in American history and family dynamics will have a lot to chew on.

Marston was a Harvard-educated psychologist, inventor and relentless self-promoter, and he had unusual romantic tastes. He was a radical feminist who believed women should rule the world, but he was also a polygamist who secretly took two wives, one who had a professional life and one who raised the children.

The book also documents his lifelong obsession with bondage and domination without getting into racy details.

Lepore leads us through Marston's failures and eccentricities and paints the women of his life in vivid detail. 

If there's one major flaw to the book, it's that it takes so long to get to Wonder Woman. But once we get there, the action really picks up. Who knew she was such an instant success? Who knew her early adventures were intentionally filled with bondage scenarios? And who knew Marston bragged to people that he was making propaganda for feminist liberation?

With a new Wonder Woman movie just announced, here's hoping the big-screen amazon is even half as interesting as the strange man who cooked her up 72 years ago.

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