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Marilyn
Cover of Marilyn
Marilyn
The Passion and the Paradox
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Like her art, Marilyn Monroe was rooted in paradox: She was a powerful star and a childlike waif; a joyful, irreverent party girl with a deeply spiritual side; a superb friend and a narcissist; a dumb...
Like her art, Marilyn Monroe was rooted in paradox: She was a powerful star and a childlike waif; a joyful, irreverent party girl with a deeply spiritual side; a superb friend and a narcissist; a dumb...
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Description-

  • Like her art, Marilyn Monroe was rooted in paradox: She was a powerful star and a childlike waif; a joyful, irreverent party girl with a deeply spiritual side; a superb friend and a narcissist; a dumb blonde and an intellectual. No previous biographer has recognized-much less attempted to analyze-most of these aspects of her personality. Lois Banner has. With new details about Marilyn's childhood foster homes, her sexual abuse, her multiple marriages, her affairs, and her untimely death at the age of thirty-six, Marilyn is, at last, the nuanced biography Monroe fans have been waiting for.

About the Author-

  • Lois Banner was a founder of the field of women's history and cofounder of the Berkshire Conference in Women's History, the major academic event in the field. She was the first woman president of the American Studies Association, and in 2006 won the Bode-Pearson Prize of the American Studies Association for Lifetime Achievement. She is the author of ten books, including her acclaimed American Beauty and most recently MM—Personal, which reproduces and discusses items from Marilyn's personal archive. In addition to her books on Marilyn, Banner is a major collector of Marilyn artifacts. She is also a professor of history and gender studies at USC and lives in Southern California.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    May 14, 2012
    Fifty years after her mysterious death, Marilyn Monroe remains an enigma. Drawing on new interviews with friends of Monroe’s who have never talked to other biographers and on newly available archival material about Monroe’s childhood, her marriages, and her death, historian and gender theorist Banner elegantly and skillfully chronicles Monroe’s short life from her transient childhood in foster homes and her early, unhappy marriage to Jim Dougherty to her rise to screen star and sex symbol and her unfortunate early death. Banner paints a portrait of Monroe as a complicated, many-faceted woman who studied mystical texts, read widely and took courses at UCLA, pioneered the sexual revolution and challenged censorship codes, honored the working-class individuals whose adoration had made her a star through their fan mail, and strove for perfection even though she very often spiraled out of control. Like other Monroe biographers, Banner ranges over the best-known facts of Monroe’s life—the affair with Jack Kennedy, her tempestuous relationship with Arthur Miller, Joe DiMaggio’s love for her—but she offers a lengthy discussion of theories about the cause of Monroe’s death. Banner points to Gene Kelly’s recollection, among others, that Monroe was very happy and very excited about her future projects as evidence that perhaps the actress’s death was not suicide. In the end, Monroe’s life was so full of paradox, passion, magic, and mystery that it has made her into a symbol of the American imagination that transcends time and place. Agent: William Clark.

  • Kirkus

    May 1, 2012
    Fifty years after her death and hundreds of books later, are we any closer to understanding Marilyn Monroe (1926-1962)? Probably not, but this new biography brings the known facts up to date and offers a fresh, modern take on the tragic star's life and choices. For Banner (History and Gender Studies/Univ. of Southern California; MM-Personal: From the Private Archive of Marilyn Monroe, 2011, etc.), the tangled roots of Monroe's contradictions--shy but lurid, innocent and calculating, user and used--originated in her childhood. The product of a family with a history of mental illness, she was passed around between foster homes (both good and bad) as well as an orphanage. She experienced sexual abuse, absorbed a variety of religious influences, and discovered that her lost-lamb look attracted every man she met. Although Banner occasionally plays psychoanalyst, it's only in an effort to see her subject from every conceivable angle. The author's film criticism is insightful, particularly in showing how Monroe helped build (and would deliberately mock) her own public image. She examines how Monroe's unique allure drew on popular tradition and looked forward to the Pop Art future. As for the big question--did Monroe commit suicide or was she murdered by Bobby Kennedy, or her psychoanalyst, or mobster Sam Giancana, or the FBI?--Banner offers no smoking guns. Instead, she gives reasons why all the scenarios, both official and otherwise, are as problematic as they are plausible. Though the author sometimes over explains the obvious, this flaw does not detract from the book's forward drive or Banner's sympathetic intelligence. Surely not the last word, but a complete and honest effort and a good starting place.

    COPYRIGHT(2012) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    March 15, 2012

    This study is especially interesting for its author, not your standard celeb biographer but a founder of the field of women's history, cofounder of the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians, and the first woman president of the American Studies Association.

    Copyright 2012 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • The New York Times Book Review Banner presents a rich and often imaginative narrative of Marilyn's life. By the end, Monroe feels at once like an earthly being - an almost-friend - and an enigma, still slightly out of focus and just beyond reach. That seems right.
  • The Washington Post This is the book to read if you want to try to understand what made Monroe tick.... Banner's methodical approach and refusal to give Monroe praise when the actress doesn't deserve it confer a kind of dignity on the subject.
  • Booklist (starred review) A passion for precision and truth fuels Banner's electrifying portrait of an artist caught in a maze of paradoxes and betrayals. Here is Marilyn as we've never seen her before.
  • Publishers Weekly Banner elegantly and skillfully chronicles Monroe's short life.... [she] paints a portrait of Monroe as a complicated, many-faceted woman.

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