Friday, October 16, 2015

110:120 Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore

A history of the people integral to the invention of Wonder Woman, primarily William Marston.  The book starts with Marston's early life but quickly goes into his college years and his going from law into psychology with a heavy emphasis on his form of feminism and spends a great deal of time on his marriage to Betty Holloway and his live-in girlfriend/second wife, Olive Byrne.

Honestly, I wasn't a huge Wonder Woman fan before this book.  I enjoyed Lynda Carter's portrayal in the TV show and I was always happy to see her on any cartoon simply so there was at least some female representation but she never made a huge impact on me and I've never read any of the comics.  Reading this book has at least helped clarify what doesn't appeal to me about it in it's original form and I'm still not racing to the comic store to check any of them out since Marston's brand of "feminism" was more fetish and that was heavily portrayed as long as he was in control of WW's comics.

On the whole, I did not enjoy this book.  Even disregarding the fact that I wasn't super interested in the topic, I found the author's presentation of the information on the dry side with a huge helping of my pet peeve, jumping timelines, generally to provide information that did not actually serve the narrative.  The parts of the story that would likely have been more interesting was the relationship dynamic between Byrne, Holloway, and Marston but that is barely touched on since most of those documents have been destroyed at Byrne's insistence.  The author obviously did a ton of painstaking research but then decided that all of what she found had to go into the book but she didn't really seem to have a good idea of her audience or what her own thoughts were on the people she was writing about.  Only in the afterword, written with a later edition after she was able to get a hold of some further writings, did she seem to come to some opinions about the whole thing.

Page count: 432p/28,966p ytd/243,882p lifetime

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