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Goddess: The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe Mass Market Paperback – April 1, 1996

4.2 out of 5 stars 241 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Summers claims to have interviewed more than 600 people in the course of writing this book, and the effort shows in this exhaustiveand exhausting biography. Overall, the book is well written. Of the new material presented, the most provocative is Summers's assertion that Monroe's corpse was first discovered by Robert Kennedy and Peter Lawford. The reason for the confusion of facts about her death, says Summers, is that a coverup was conducted to hide Monroe's sexual involvement with both John and Robert Kennedy. Since Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller declined to be interviewed, this is not the definitive Monroe biography. Still, libraries that do not already have a surfeit of books on Monroe should find this a popular addition. Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club featured alternates. John Smothers, Monmouth Cty. Lib., Freehold, N.J.
Copyright 1985 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Anthony Summers is the author of the bestselling biographies Goddess: The Secret Lives of Marilyn Monroe and Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Onyx (May 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451407474
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451407474
  • Product Dimensions: 4.3 x 1.2 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (241 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,649,162 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Lauren on April 22, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Goddess: The Secret Lives of Marilyn Monroe is an excellent book! After you finish reading this, you feel as though you've been w/ her every step of the way. The author Anthony Summers goes into great detail of her childhood, struggles of becoming famous, her marriages and divorces, her mental breakdown, etc. A little less than half the book is about Marilyn's death. Summers is quick to give us possible causes of the tragic event backed up w/ testimonies, interviews, and police reports. Instead of forcing the THIS IS HOW MARILYN DIED routine on us, he lets us decide for ourselves. MANY MANY MANY people were interviewed for this book, including a lot of Marilyn's friends (and so called friends) One thing this book does prove is that Marilyn was definitely involved sexually w/ both of the Kennedy brothers (JFK and Robert) around the last months of her life. Lots of pictures are included (there is even one of her after her autopsy) and copies of police reports and even some of Marilyn's personal letters!! This book is EXCELLENT, and you will not want to put it down. Marilyn is one of the most interesting people you can read about. So beautiful and talented, but so afraid and fragile...too bad this book is Out of print ~ FIND THIS BOOK: you won't regret it!!
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Anthony Summers is a respected British investigative reporter, and he's not afraid to delve into controversial subjects. Among other things, he's written one of the best-researched - and most controversial - books on the JFK assassination ("Conspiracy"). In "Goddess" Summers offers us a thoroughly-researched, extremely well-written account of one of Hollywood's greatest - and most tragic - actresses. The first two-thirds of the book takes us through Marilyn's turbulent life and film career. She never knew her father, and her mother suffered from schizophrenia and eventually was sent to a mental hospital - and as a result Marilyn (real name: Norma Jean Baker) constantly feared that she would also suffer a mental breakdown someday. Her life was a series of foster parents, short-lived love affairs that usually ended badly, sexual promiscuity, three (and possibly four, as Summers discovers) marriages, and always the hope on Marilyn's part that she could find the "right man," get married, and settle down to raise a happy family.

Of course, that never happened, and Summers writes sympathetically of her unhappy life - and of her brilliant acting career, in which she often drew upon her personal unhappiness for her best performances. The final one-third of the book generated considerable controversy when it was published in the 1980s, and it's not hard to see why. Summers argues that Monroe didn't commit suicide but was murdered - a murder that was covered up and made to look like a suicide. He also argues that she was "clearly" involved with the Kennedy brothers in her last days, and that her murder may have been tied to her relationship with them.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
There will never be "the definitive" Marilyn Monroe biography without the intimate contributions of husbands No. 2 and 3, Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller. Even if the fabled playwright shares publicly his life with filmdom's eternal goddess, DiMaggio never did and, obviously, never will. Still, this contribution by Anthony Summers, first published in 1984, may be as close as it gets. In his acknowledgements, Summers claims a near-obsession that consumed almost two years of his life. Little wonder: he claims and minutely credits and cites more than 600 subjects who were interviewed in the course of his research. About the only criticism that can be lodged is the book's title. Implying we're about to read nothing more than the sexual conquests of the world's most famous woman of her time, we instead get a thoroughly comprehensive life history that begins even before her birth June 1, 1926, and continues well beyond her death that swelteringly hot August night in 1962. In between, thanks to Summers' prose and sources whose claims were checked and rechecked for confirmation, we get something that few other writers have achieved, much less attempted: a psycho-biograhy that explains the reasons for the legendary insecurity that Norma Jean Baker could never quite overcome even as the world's most desired woman. Even in his passages about the amazing but all-too-short film career, Summers manages to keep us focused on Norma Jean and her reality behind the facade that was Marilyn. Of course, Summers has to deal with his subject's still conroversial death, and "The Candle Burns Down," the segment of the book that centers on Monroe's final days, is so detailed that Summers' own explanation for Marilyn's death sounds as plausible as any theory posited.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
Throughout this biography Mr. Summers displays a palpable yet subtle loathing of Norma Jeane/Marilyn. For example, (p 51 first edition) "....Marilyn used the weapon of her sexuality when she chose...." this statement reveals more about Mr. Summers' misogynistic perspective than anything about Marilyn. Female sexuality as a "weapon"? Weapons are meant to destroy enemies. Women have the right to utilize the power of their sexuality when and how they choose. (Sometimes, regrettably, to their own detriment.) That Mr. Summers even felt the need to make this and other similar statements shows his lack of respect for women and fear of women's sexuality.

The book is full of contradictions. Many times he indicates that Monroe didn't even know the power of her own sexuality; a contradictory picture of the sexually manipulative Marilyn he paints repeatedly as indicated in my first criticism.

It is a very sad fact that the casting couch exists at all. Summers provides an extensive list of Marilyn's of casting couch performances. The only support he provides for these allegations are through third & fourth party quotes purportedly by Marilyn! If anything, it is a horrible shame and twisted value system that required Marilyn/Norma Jeane to attend to the sexual needs of powerful men to achieve any form of success. The incomprehensible charisma she possessed and her unwavering commitment to her art form are ultimately responsible for her enduring legend/success... not "the weapon of her sexuality".

Although well researched, the book is full of hearsay. For example, (p 23 first edition) "....persistent reports from friends suggest Marilyn had numerous abortions..." The only "friend" Summers states as being "..perhaps the most reliable..
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