The Secret History of Wonder
Harvard American history professor and writer Jill Lepore traces the life of William Moulton Marston – psychologist, lawyer, inventor of the lie detector, screen writer, bondage aficionado, feminist, secret polygamist, and creator of Wonder Woman. The intersection of Marston’s life and the lives of his family with key players of the early 20th century suffragette movement, the ways they implemented the free thinking of their time into their family life and Marston’s professional life allow Lepore to chart a fascinating story of popular culture. She illuminates how Marston, despite his advocacy of the natural superiority of women, manages to take advantage of the women in his polygamous family, living off their labor, leaving him free to pursue his often crackpot dreams and goof ball schemes. Lepore balances Marston’s less than noble behavior, often in contradiction of his professed beliefs, with his immense charm and his love for his unconventional family. Lepore brilliantly traces how Wonder Woman manifests characteristics of well-known suffragettes and promotes feminist themes wrapped in aspects of the women in Marston’s life. She exposes many of the chinks in Marston’s views with humor and appreciation. In the process Lepore shines light on the changing roles of women and the social movements their plight fueled from the dawn of the 20th century to its conclusion. A fascinating and well told story and a perfectly enjoyable book to read while drinking a beer.