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THE SECRET HISTORY OF WONDER WOMAN

Lepore mines new archival sources to reconstruct Marston’s tangled home life and the controversy generated by Wonder Woman....

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The surprising origins of a 20th-century goddess.

Wonder Woman, writes Lepore (History/Harvard Univ.; Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin, 2013), “was the product of the suffragist, feminist, and birth control movements of the 1900s and 1910s and became a source of the women’s liberation and feminist movements of the 1960s and 1970s.” Long-legged, wearing short shorts and knee-high red boots, Wonder Woman burst into comics in 1941, the creation of William Moulton Marston, a Harvard-educated psychologist. Marston, a master at self-promotion, had failed as a college professor; colleagues scorned his publicity stunts. When he tried to market himself as a psychology consultant to the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover opened a file on him. Among the many topics on which Marston expounded was women’s power. “Women have twice the emotional development, the ability for love, than man has,” he announced. Oddly, he also believed that submission and bondage were intrinsic to women’s happiness. “In episode after episode,” writes Lepore, “Wonder Woman is chained, bound, gagged, lassoed, tied, fettered and manacled,” scenes that Marston described “in careful, intimate detail, with utmost precision,” so that the artist who drew the series could get them exactly right. The creation, publishing history and eventual demise of the cartoon character are only part of Lepore’s story, which uncovers the secret of Marston’s startlingly unconventional family. Married to Elizabeth “Betty” Holloway, who often provided the family’s sole support, Marston brought into their home Olive Byrne, the niece of Margaret Sanger. Byrne had been his student, became his mistress, and had two of his children, who were brought up thinking their father had died. Marston had two children with Holloway, as well, whom Byrne raised, freeing Holloway to go to work. After Marston’s death in 1947, the two women spent the rest of their lives together.

Lepore mines new archival sources to reconstruct Marston’s tangled home life and the controversy generated by Wonder Woman. It’s an irresistible story, and the author tells it with relish and delight.

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-35404-2

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

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Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

NIGHT

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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