cover image Marilyn Revealed: The Ambitious Life of an American Icon

Marilyn Revealed: The Ambitious Life of an American Icon

Ted Schwarz. Taylor Trade Publishing, $26.95 (675pp) ISBN 978-1-58979-342-2

Penning a Marilyn Monroe biography in 2009 is no easy task, following shelves full of books shamelessly exposing, mythologizing and complicating the iconic actress's memory. Schwarz (The Hillside Strangler) presents the first comprehensive biography in recent years, but comes up with little fans won't already know. Drawing from FBI files and interviews with Norma Jean Mortenson's friends and acquaintances, Schwarz seeks to debunk the Marilyn myths while chronicling her dysfunctional, partially fabricated family history (questioning how long she spent in an orphanage), her pathological insecurity, her infamous love affairs and marriages (most notably with Joe DiMaggio) and her controversial final days. Though Schwarz admits when he's unsure about the facts (as with Marilyn's teenage marriage), his limited use of attribution calls his own credibility into question. Ultimately, Schwarz's long-winded bio often reads like an over-confident honor student's interminable dissertation.