adbl_ms_membershipImage_includedwith_altText_B076FLV3HT
adbl_ms_membershipImage_includedwith_altText_B076FLV3HT

1 audiobook of your choice.
Stream or download thousands of included titles.
$14.95 a month after 30 day trial. Cancel anytime.
Buy for $21.35

Buy for $21.35

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Publisher's Summary

A riveting work of historical detection revealing that the origins of one of the world’s most iconic superheroes hides within it a fascinating family story - and a crucial history of 20th-century feminism.

Wonder Woman, created in 1941, is the most popular female superhero of all time. Aside from Superman and Batman, no superhero has lasted as long or commanded so vast and wildly passionate a following. Like every other superhero, Wonder Woman has a secret identity. Unlike every other superhero, she has also has a secret history.

Harvard historian and New Yorker staff writer Jill Lepore has uncovered an astonishing trove of documents, including the never-before-seen private papers of William Moulton Marston, Wonder Woman's creator. Beginning in his undergraduate years at Harvard, Marston was influenced by early suffragists and feminists, starting with Emmeline Pankhurst, who was banned from speaking on campus in 1911, when Marston was a freshman. In the 1920s, Marston and his wife, Sadie Elizabeth Holloway, brought into their home Olive Byrne, the niece of Margaret Sanger, one of the most influential feminists of the 20th century. The Marston family story is a tale of drama, intrigue, and irony. In the 1930s, Marston and Byrne wrote a regular column for Family Circle celebrating conventional family life, even as they themselves pursued lives of extraordinary nonconformity. Marston, internationally known as an expert on truth - he invented the lie detector test - lived a life of secrets, only to spill them on the pages of Wonder Woman.

The Secret History of Wonder Woman is a tour de force of intellectual and cultural history. Wonder Woman, Lepore argues, is the missing link in the history of the struggle for women’s rights - a chain of events that begins with the women's suffrage campaigns of the early 1900s and ends with the troubled place of feminism a century later.

©2014 Jill Lepore (P)2014 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Lepore restores Wonder Woman to her rightful place as an essential women’s rights icon in this dynamically researched and interpreted, spectacularly illustrated, downright astounding work of discovery that injects new zest into the history of feminism." ( Booklist)
"Wonder Woman, feminist hero, was the creation of a husband and wife who led, on the surface, average existences. Behind the mask, however, they had extraordinarily unconventional lives. It takes Harvard professor and New Yorker writer Lepore to dig into the complicated story behind the lasso (of truth), and forgive me for sounding like Upworthy, but it’s true: what she uncovers will shock you. Let’s just say that Wonder Woman’s S&M subtext was there for a reason." ( Flavorwire)

Featured Article: The Best Audiobooks to Listen to Your Favorite Comics and Graphic Novels


No matter where you are in your search for the best comic audiobooks, there’s one thing pretty much everyone can agree on: they've come a long way. The idea that visual mediums like comics and graphic novels can't be translated for audio has been disproven time and again with some of the most exciting and immersive listening experiences you can find in any genre. There's something on this list for every flavor of comic book fan.

What listeners say about The Secret History of Wonder Woman

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    384
  • 4 Stars
    203
  • 3 Stars
    103
  • 2 Stars
    33
  • 1 Stars
    16
Performance
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    289
  • 4 Stars
    169
  • 3 Stars
    127
  • 2 Stars
    38
  • 1 Stars
    37
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    373
  • 4 Stars
    181
  • 3 Stars
    67
  • 2 Stars
    28
  • 1 Stars
    11

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Brilliant Content - Production Values - Lacking

Would you consider the audio edition of The Secret History of Wonder Woman to be better than the print version?

No, I don't think I would. I haven't seen the print edition, but I imagine it, and hope it is filled with frames from wonder woman comics. Many have complained about Jill Lepore's 'voices' and I understand that comment, I didn't mind them so much, and sometimes thought they were great because they gave that 1930's/1940's comics, newspaper, radio etc announcer 'feel' to the book. Sometimes they were a little over the top... They helped me to imagine frames of wonder woman comics in the print edition. My complaint, as someone with a background in audio production and narration recording - is far more technical.

Jill has an outstanding enthusiasm for her subject - it's why I bought the book - seeing her interview with Jon Stewart got me excited about this book. I think a better performance could've been drawn out of her by the right director and in a better studio environment. There's too much room in the overall sound of this book. She's too far away from the mic, the walls of the room are too hard and the room is probably too big. I perfer readers who feel like they're sitting right next to me. As I said in my good reads review "The recording is too roomy, like the author just set up in her living room, which has no rug, no curtains and a lot of glassware laying about... If the director or engineer were there at all providing direction, they must've nodded off a few times."

The edit is good. I've sat through audio books with glaring edit mistakes ie. "I've sat thr-I've sat through audio books..." that's assuming the editor took all the best takes. It would bring be out of the book a little when I found myself thinking 'why did no one ask for a pick up of that sentence?!' All this said - the content was engaging enough that this fell away most of the time, and I, as a slow reader, and someone with too much going on, never would've been able to read this book so soon after publication without the audio edition, so I will take what I can get.

I do recommend having a listen to the sample so you're prepared for what you're getting into.

Any additional comments?

I loved this book, despite the audio quality and I found it a great gateway into further study of the various feminist movements (I like to point out - all your favorite feminists make an appearance!). I was never a big Wonder Woman fan, but thought this story behind her creation would be fascinating enough - and it was - and now I'm willing to give her a second chance.

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Narration ruined it for me

The story was interesting, but I was so annoyed by the narration, I had a difficult time getting into it. She should have hired a professional reader. She alternated between mumbling, as if she was bored with her own book, and YELLING. I can't recommend this audio book unless it's rerecorded with a better narrator. Listen to a sample before you buy this one.

28 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Some authors should not read their publications...

Love, Love, Love the book! Hate, Hate, Hate the performance. The author's voice is not trained in speaking at all (sorry but it is true.) I finally purchased it in hb from Amazon so I could actually enjoy the AMAZING wealth of knowledge I gained from reading the book. WONDERFUL book, HORRIBLE performance.

26 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Poor Olive and Sadie

After reading this book I have no sympathy for William Marston, but plenty for Sadie and Olive.

That feeling aside, I find the book very poorly written. The author mentions a fact or name at one point, then without clarifying which “thing” or person she’s referencing takes off on the object/ person several paragraphs or even chapters later. In order to understand what the author was talking about required multiple attempts to trace back the reference to its original mention. Tedious. The book clutters the book with unimportant facts, background and even addresses. Why?

I gave this book 2 chances—once on Audible and once in print. I thought the narrator’s voice might have prejudiced me against the book. It may have, but the second reading left me just as irritated.

Many of the female historical figures in this book are to be remembered and thanked. Their story deserves to be told. But this book leaves Olive and Sadie as marginalized figures. I wanted to know more about them—not the huckster Marston. The history of these women and the feminist movements did not deserve to be overshadowed by an overweight blowhard.

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

The most annoying reading

The author read the book and she has such an annoying voice. Her voice was high C or raspy.
Terrible!

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

The Secret History of 20th Century Feminism

This book weaves together a story of a happy if unusual household (one man, two women, four children) who were creating and living through the "first wave" of 20th Century feminism in the United States with the story of the creation and evolution of a famous comic book superhero(ine). One of the women in the unusual household was the niece of Margaret Sanger, a passionate advocate of the right of women to choose if and when to become pregnant. Suffragists and women's rights advocates of different viewpoints and factions drop frequently. This complicated story is well-told.

The narration is good most of the time. However, when rendering dialog or, more accurately, reading the written words of a character, the narrator puts on a loud, hectoring tone that I found unpleasant. At first I thought she was portraying the central character in a way that was meant to convey something important about him; but, in fact, she uses the same tone for numerous different characters. These passages are usually brief.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Book was fantastic! Audiobook was money wasted!

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

Time, and money, wasted!

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

Many secrets were revealed throughout, except for the one presented on page 297 in the epilogue. The very last line of the book reads: "This was, at best, a half truth."

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Jill Lepore?

Actually, I fully expected that a male would have been the reader. The book is definitely more about Wonder Woman's creator, Charles Moulton Marston, than it is about Wonder Woman herself. That is how I somehow jumped to the conclusion of a female narrator. However, a woman with a commanding voice would also have been a fitting choice – perhaps Suzanne Toren. Ms Lepore has penned a well-researched and quite interesting book, but as for narration, she should stick to writing. Her voice is not trained for this art. I know because I have similar vocal resonance – acceptable some of the times, but with a shrillness that seems to pop up out of nowhere. I wonder what or who encouraged Ms Lepore to even consider narrating her book? Has she ever done so before? Do audiobooks have editors or voice coaches? If so, someone appears to have made a wrong call.

Did The Secret History of Wonder Woman inspire you to do anything?

The book inspired me to relish all of the Wonder Woman lore that I have accumulated in my 75 years. Wish I still had all of those comic books that my uncle in New Orleans bought for me when I was about 4 years old – and not just for their monetary value.
Ms Lepore's book re-opened my long-standing search for more and more info on my heroine. Boy, oh, boy, did it ever fulfill and more! If Mr. Marston's lifestyle inspired him in any measure to create a strong, feminine, and just superhero, it made me wonder who or what would he have spawned had he been meek and perhaps even puritanical. It might not have made any difference, but interesting in that his revealed lifestyle seemed to play such an important part in the creation of Wonder Woman.

Any additional comments?

Buy the book! Skip the audiobook!

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Interesting, but flat

I had no idea how much story there was behind Wonder Woman and I enjoyed learning about it. There were topics and stories that were repeated, and I found that frustration. The narration of the audio version is fair, at best.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

The narration is awful

The narrator is overacting to such a degree that it makes the book unlistenable. That is a true shame because at times when the narrator "let's her guard down?","becomes to fatigued?",or"just plan doesn't get carried away" there are the slightest glimpse that show she is a gifted storyteller. But these times are just that glimpses lasting only long enough to grab your attention before the frustration of the overacting beings a new. I understand why such narration happens; this is a book about Wonder Woman's origin, not about the character herself per say. It the story of a feminist male creating the greatest character ever who can be conquered by no one and happens to a female. It's a great storyline but I am afraid that the narration was to distracting for me to take much from the book. It's a true shame. I will look for other book about WW origins because it seems interesting the man who created the lie detector also created the lasso of truth . I will also try this narrator again on other works because as I said she seems gifted but as this story and this narrator stands the work is unlistenable.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great writer, but genuinely awful reader

Ms. Lepore has written a WONDERful book, and the history of comics, women, and, in fact, the world should be grateful. I certainly am.
That said, her reading style, and lack of skill diminishes and infantilises a genuinely riveting, adult, important narrative, and, a mere 2 hours in, I cannot bear to listen to the rest.
I have purchased a hard copy, and will re-read from the beginning, as her bizarre and childish attempt has all but ruined the first 4 chapters.
Please keep writing, but PLEASE hire a voiceover professional for your next masterpiece? You deserve it.

2 people found this helpful

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Anonymous User
  • Anonymous User
  • 07-25-21

the history you want to know! trust me

I kind of knew a little about this story so I started the book with the idea that I was just going to get a little more detail, boy was I wrong. There is so much more to this story it's unbelievable. Jill Lepore dug deep and presented us with absolutely everything there is to know! It was fascinating to read about the people who came up with WW, how they came up with WW, where their inspiration came from and the context in which it all happened. I'm crazy about history and have read quite a few books on the subject but this one is honestly my favorite so far. It's not just the history of Wonder Woman, this is a history of feminism.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Joshua Goldosn
  • Joshua Goldosn
  • 05-05-20

Brilliant

This book bring to light the secret history of a family and the icon of Wonder Woman. Lepore provides depth and insight on the creation of the feminist icon. Her ability to write a story is matched by her ability to read it. A must listen for all. Simply fantastic.