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Goddess: The Secret Lives of Marilyn Monroe
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Goddess: The Secret Lives of Marilyn Monroe

3.89  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,894 Ratings  ·  141 Reviews
She was born Norma Jeane but the world knew and loved her as Marilyn. Her life was one of unprecedented fame and private misery, her death a tragedy surrounded by mysteries. Drawing on first-hand interviews Anthony Summers offers both a classic biography and a shockingly revealing account of the screen goddess's relations with John and Robert Kennedy. 'The definitive story ...more
Hardcover, 415 pages
Published by MacMillan Publishing Company (first published September 1st 1985)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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At first I felt like I was reading one of those creepy rags that you see at the checkout counter. Tell all about a star without her there to defend herself. Marilyn has always been, to me, one of the most misunderstood "stars" of the universe. Perhaps it was her destiny to carry the mental illness that crippled her mother. We will never really know.
Modern medicine was not as modern back then and Marilyn seemed destined to live a life of depression and desperation, that was constantly medicated.
Feb 20, 2012 Amy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Very tabloidish. Have no idea what to trust. Pretty much the entire book is "he said she said". The author could well be making everything up. He gets so involved in rumors and conspiracy theories (particularly about her death) that I felt very removed from Marilyn by the end. Disappointing.
Rae Ganci Hammers
Nov 10, 2009 Rae Ganci Hammers rated it it was amazing
This is the first Marilyn Monroe biography that I have read, and must admit my knowledge of her life and career was cursory before picking it up. A lot of ink has been spilled over her life and even more over her death, and while I'm sure there are inaccuracies and omissions in Anthony Summers' "Goddess" ...was a fantastic read. Summers traces her life from birth til death, but not in a simple, linear fashion. He acknowledges (if not embraces) the complex mythology that has built up around Maril ...more
Tonya Wertman
Jan 15, 2008 Tonya Wertman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was the first biography that I ever read....I was a Freshman in high school and this book and Marilyn Monroe's story have stayed with me ever since.

It is the most in-depth and personal account of this truly unique woman. It's an absolute page turner and you are sure to discover many things that will shock you. By the end of the book I was emotionally attached to Marilyn and she will forever be a goddess to me.

Why such a tragic ending for an immaculate screen goddess? The real tragedy is t
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 15, 2010 Richard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a mess! Meticulously researched fascinating history of what must be the most epic backstory of Hollywood history. The exploitation of a dangerously unstable woman by the great powers of media and politics is fifty years later still nauseating. Anyone still clinging to Bobby Kennedy mythology should stay far away from there.
Apr 16, 2010 Laila rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I can't wait to be done with this. Some interesting sections, well-researched but I don't need the exhaustive detail about anyone's life, especially when it includes overdose after suicide attempt after miscarriage after abortion on a seemingly endless loop.
Poor little Normae Jean. America's favorite poor little rich girl.
She was used, she was abused, and she was not amused.
Problem is, she also used, abused and didn't amuse those closest to her.
Was her death an accidental overdose? Was it an intentional suicide? Who really knows. The fact remains that she did have very marked suicidal tendencies and had attempted it in the past. Luckily for her, her past attempts were always twarted by her friends... I guess, in the end, it just became a case of th
Apr 01, 2016 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
'Goddess' is pure biographical brilliance - Summers explores Monroe's life, and most importantly, less well known aspects of it, extremely well.

His writing tone is very readable and not at all humdrum. The title of the book suggests there are many layers to his research, and this is proven chapter after chapter. Goodness knows how long Summers spent on his research, for it is candidly thorough from start to finish. As a fairly long book, it would have been easy for him to waver and focus on mor
Mar 07, 2013 Laurie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is the worst famous Monroe biography. It is far to conspiracy based and doesn't look at the simple truth which is usually correct. I love conspiracy books, but only when they have a story and admit that is only opinion. Any actual Monroe fan hates this book. I knew the Marilynettes hated it and after 4/5 years of everyone discussing why, I can see. It speed untrue stories which add to the supposed "mystery" around Monroe. It even has an autopsy photo, which Monroe fans don't want to see as ...more
Apr 14, 2013 Kirsten rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I suddenly had a hankering for a fun, hot and juicy read, and what better to turn to than a Marilyn Monroe biography, right? Forget it. I read the first 40-50 pages (skimmed through the rest), but that was MUCH more than enough for me. I was so disappointed and disgusted, yet nothing really came as much of a surprise as I had already read bits and pieces of her depressing tale. The book's entree was a (very) long listing of Marilyn's sexual conquests, with a side of sadness that she was obviousl ...more
The peak of my Marilyn Monroe obsession was the late eighties, mid-teens. I'm not even sure how I got started on it all...or what in the world I was doing reading this book way back then, but at any rate. I think the author does an awesome job of addressing all of the mystery of her death as well as seeing past the fabrications she made about her own life and getting as much truth out of it as he could. It does follow the idea that she was murdered for 'knowing too much', implicating the FBI/Ken ...more
Apr 02, 2015 Paul rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A voluminously and meticulously researched book that strongly suggests foul play in Monroe's death, along with the complications of dating the Kennedy brothers and almost giving the Mafia the opportunity to bring down the JFK administration. For all her mental issues, she was incredibly smart and disliked having to be portrayed as a piece of meat or a sex goddess. A terrible childhood leading most likely to her bipolar or borderline personality as an adult (besides the fact that her mother was i ...more
Feb 24, 2015 Suzie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Ta knížka mě hrozně štvala a posledních asi 150 stránek jsem dočetla fakt jenom se sebezapřením, že je mi líto to nedočíst. Strašně moc postav, ve kterejch se nedalo orientovat, zmatenej děj, nebylo to chronologický.... Ale nějaký části byly fakt zajímavý a bavily mě. Kdyby se ta knížka smrskla tak na polovinu stránke, dala bych tak o dvě hvězdičky víc.
Jul 06, 2015 Kathryn rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: marilyn
I picked up an earlier edition of this book in college but never finished. Recently, it's been updated and made cheap on Kindle, and as I've read numerous Monroe books since it became an auto-buy.

How to review it, though? The author claims extensive and detailed research, but you find some of his sources are dubious in the eyes of die-hard Marilyn fans (the infamous Jeanne Carmen, for one). The speculation of Marilyn's final hours, with people in and out of her house while she purportedly lays d
Hunter Sinuhe
May 05, 2015 Hunter Sinuhe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved it! This is the first book I've read about Marilyn and it almost reads like a mystery novel; I was always wondering what was gonna happen next. I like how the author admits that a lot of the accounts of Marilyn's life by those who knew her are a bit sketchy (the book was written about 20 years after her death), but he put the pieces together nicely. There are some specifics of Marilyn's life that are unfortunately lost due to the passage of time and the sometimes hazy memories of those w ...more
Nov 29, 2007 Graceann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Biography Fans
Shelves: biography
In-depth examination of the troubled star's life; there's more searching here than I had been used to seeing in other biographies, and the conspiracy theories with regard to her death gave me food for thought. I haven't thought about Monroe in quite the same way since.
Lisa James
Very well done, very intensively researched, & FINALLY makes the case that her tragic death was not suicide, it was accidental, & it WAS covered up in order to get Bobby K. out of Dodge before it could ruin his career. HIGHLY recommended to the MM fans....
I know only the most basic facts about Marilyn Monroe's life, and while I don't consider myself a fan of hers, this biography caught my eye as I idly browsed the Kindle Unlimited offerings on Amazon. Unfortunately, it wasn't nearly as illuminating or comprehensive as I hoped it would be. To be fair, the author is very straightforward about the fact that he chose to focus on just her adult years.

And even though she only lived until her late thirties, this biography was still quite long. A lot of
Anne T
Sep 18, 2013 Anne T rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-library
I enjoyed reading this book and I found her life story very interesting. However, this book made me feel sad for her.
Meb Bryant
Jan 18, 2015 Meb Bryant rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I purchased this book through Kindle Unlimited and had a blast revisiting my old friend, Marilyn Monroe. As a child, I adored her and wished to have Marilyn Monroe as my mother (sorry Mom). As an adult,
I realize I probably wouldn't have been born if I had been her child. Mr. Summers revisited her life in minute detail to the best of his (or anybody's) ability. Nobody will ever know the entire truth, but the truth we all know was sad. A wasted life, for sure. I enjoyed the book...the facts and su
Jenni Wiltz
Interesting, if a bit salacious. There aren't a lot of "whys" here - this book isn't an attempt to explore or understand Marilyn. It's more a long list/chronology of the events of her life, strongly focused on who Marilyn knew, liked, dated, slept with, etc. I understand the author's not wanting to tackle the "whys" - how could we possibly come to any conclusions anyway? But that's what I found myself wanting. Instead of the relentless chronology of "this happened, then this happened, then she d ...more
I'm a Marilyn Monroe fan. I have been her fan since childhood when I first watched 'Gentlemen Prefer Blondes'.
I haven't read a lot of biographies but I consider myself a knowledgeable fan. Edit 6/03/14: I have since read my fair share

Marilyn's whole persona-the fact and fiction-is often forgotten to her beauty,her personal problems and marriages. But what actually intrigues me is her acting ability which is often belittled and mistakenly denounced by many people, whom simply know her as "the du
Elizabeth Periale

"As with most biographies of Marilyn, Summers catalogues her many love affairs, possible multiple abortions, and almost constant use of prescription drugs. Originally written in 1985, Summers conducted interviews with many of Marilyn's intimates or staff who knew her, like housekeeper Eunice Murray and "friend" Peter Lawford. He relies a bit too much on the testimony of Robert Slatzer [who controversially claimed he was married to Marilyn for three days in
Oct 30, 2011 Shannon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked up this book from a library that was selling it off out of general interest. There were a few Monroe references in my life recently and I never really knew much about this icon but I’ve always had a distant nostalgic interest in her.

After finishing this book, I almost mourn the fact that I wasn’t alive during her times to witness the rise and fall of what can be argued as Hollywood’s most notable star. She was beautiful beyond words and lived a glamorous lifestyle, but what she was was
Sep 23, 2011 Christine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Poor Norma Jean. What's striking is that she ever became successful at all, if you can call it that. What's so sad is that she was and remained an unhappy woman. In many ways she was a product of her childhood: born to a mentally-ill, unmarried mother, Norma Jean spent most of her youth in foster homes and orphanages, with reports that she was sexually abused. In other ways she was a product of her times: exploited by the press and the studio and misunderstood by her husbands, Marilyn died alone ...more
Hannah Lind
Oct 01, 2015 Hannah Lind rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"A wise girl kisses, but doesn't love. Listens, but doesn't believe. & leaves before she is left" the famous quote by Marilyn Monroe shows that she wasn't always a wise girl by her own standards. As a woman with multiple images of MM decorating my own house, I didn't think I had a lot left to learn about this goddess. The book delves into some fact, and some possible fiction about my idol. Some of the darker revelations are about her large number of abortions, affairs, and even a period of p ...more
Erin Schroeder
Feb 13, 2015 Erin Schroeder rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This shoe-leather reporting by Anthony Summers on the life - and tragic death - of Marilyn Monroe had me turning pages for days on end. From her lonely beginnings as an abandoned child to her transformation into a pin-up to her slow, mental deterioration that seemed to be destined for her, it's clear in this book that Marilyn Monroe is one of the most underestimated and largely ignored figures in history. While her sex appeal managed to stun audiences (especially men) worldwide, her inner demons ...more
Joy Jagiello
In highschool this was one of the first and ultimately my favorite biography on Marilyn. I ended up buying it because i wanted to read it again and again which i did. Too young at the time to truly know how she affected the country, this book let me glimpse into her private life before i read 'fluff' biographies focusing on her movies and such. It gave me a much greater understanding of her person rather than her persona. "Want to see me be Marilyn?" Yes, Norma Jean, i really do.
May 02, 2007 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I stumbled upon this biography in a used book store back when my Marilyn fascination was still inchoate (GRE word!). Since then I have seen most of her movies, done additional reading, purchased photographs of her, and gifted various of her biographies to others. But even if you are not a Marilynite, anyone would enjoy this tragic tale of a women whose beauty could not save her (and maybe destroyed her).

This book does delve pretty deeply into the story so it could be a bit much for someone who
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Anthony Summers is the bestselling author of eight nonfiction books. His investigative books include Not in Your Lifetime, the critically acclaimed book about the assassination of John F. Kennedy; Official & Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover; and most recently The Eleventh Day, on the 9/11 attacks—a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for History.
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“Honey, we all got to go sometime, reason or no reason. Dyin’s as natural as livin’; man who’s afraid to die is too afraid to live, far as I’ve ever seen. So there’s nothing to do but forget it, that’s all. Seems to me” 73 likes
“There’s something in her that’s looking for the basic reality of a given situation.” 0 likes
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