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Thursday, October 8, 2015

Liar, Liar

Although I try to keep an open mind, there are subjects that just don't interest me much. Like say, comic books.

"The Secret History of Wonder Woman" (2014) is fascinating, salacious and educational. William Moulton Marston - Wonder Woman's creator and the inventor, if not patent owner, of the lie detector - was brilliant, quirky and totally shameless. I lost count how many times this Harvard PhD (psychology) re-invented himself. The three women who inhabited his alternate universe were feminists, as well as Marston's collaborators and co-conspirators. Somehow, author Jill Lepore manages to juxtapose the story of 20th century feminism with the history of a comic book without ever missing a beat. The research she did to re-construct the Marston family's secretive funhouse is staggering. And Lepore's prose is nearly flawless.

It would be difficult to over-praise this book. I was re-introduced to Margaret Sanger's early 20th century crusade for birth control via the mother of Marston's two middle children; she was Sanger's niece. I learned the backstory of the Supreme Court's landmark ruling (Frye vs. United States) on the inadmissibility of the lie detector test (did I mention Marston was also a lawyer?) I was exposed to the innocence of mid-20th century America in the chapter "Comic Book Menace" when Batman was considered a threat to public safety because he brandished a handgun.

What was the last book you finished about a subject in which you had no interest? Did it knock you out as much as "The Secret History of Wonder Woman" did me? Comic books; go figure.

2 comments:

  1. I feel that way about most of Susan Orleans's writing: orchids, bullfighters...whatever she's looking into, I'll go on the journey with her.

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    1. Janet; Thanks for the comment. I loved "The Orchid Thief" as well as the film "Adaptation" about the writing of that book. Glad you brought Orleans back to the front of my radar.

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