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The secret history of Wonder Woman
The Library of American Comics

If you grew up with a Wonder Woman lunch box or Lynda Carter poster, you might be a superfan, but you still don’t know the real story behind America’s favorite lady superhero.

That’s because New Yorker writer and Harvard historian Jill Lepore only just uncovered it.

Lepore’s fascinating, impeccably researched and surprisingly racy new book, The Secret History of Wonder Woman, follows the life of WW creator William Moulton Marston, who, it turns out, was both a feminist crusader and super-duper freaky.

The story begins in the early 1920s when Marston, a noted psychologist, took a keen liking to his student Olive Byrne, the niece of famous birth-control advocate Margaret Sanger. Marston invited Byrne to live with him and his wife at their home in Rye, New York--and the three began a lifelong romance founded on sexual experimentation, a devotion to women’s rights and a fundamental agreement to keep their arrangement hush-hush.

All this nuance found its way into the Wonder Woman comic books, which Marston debuted in 1941: His heroine was strong and Amazonian...yet prone to scenes of kinky bondage. She fought for gender equality...while wearing skimpy hot pants. She made young girls feel empowered...and many women deeply uncomfortable.

In short, she was an enigma--way more complicated than that Clark Kent, at the very least.

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