Book - The Assassination of Marilyn Monroe

Steve Taylor-Bryant finds the sense behind the sensationalism as he reads The Assassination of Marilyn Monroe by Donald H Wolfe...

Donald H. Wolfe has written a staggeringly great book of a complex subject that I've found others just can't get near. The life of Norma Jean Baker and her metamorphosis into the world’s most recognised human being is not an easy one to grasp and document and, in most of the attempts to do so that I have read, they are full of the author’s own personal conspiracy theory. Not Wolfe's though.

The book starts with the death and subsequent events that point towards a cover up but never once does Wolfe state a personal opinion on what he thinks happened, he relays the facts as he knows them, gives the reader all the information that is available regardless of its importance to one theory or another and allows you to make up your own mind. The book makes a compelling case for most of the theories. Marilyn's drug problem was huge, her mental health issues complex and so suicide is definitely a warranted theory. Her involvement with mafia types, mainly through Frank Sinatra and Joe Kennedy, is also a fascinating reason why her death could have been murder. The Kennedy affairs with both brothers and the panic that these caused in the echelons of power due to the brothers showing off and sharing state secrets with the film star is everyone's favourite conspiracy, but there is also the communist angle through friends and doctors that I hadn't considered before. But, for me, the book did more than open my eyes to possible assassination theories.

Wolfe explained Marilyn's entire life like I'd never read before. From birth, her mother’s incarceration in a mental hospital, her orphanage years, her bouncing from one family to another, he wrote of her relationships and marriages and a life full of people trying to control her. Marilyn's issues with the studio system, directors and co-stars that, in other attempts at documenting her life made her seem cold and a diva, here they showed a woman who had struggles. I felt I knew Marilyn and could relate to her after reading this book and not through the fame angle. My delusions aren't of grandeur but of loneliness and a nagging feeling that I don't belong and Marilyn it seems never recovered from her early years, her mother’s inability to love her, her birth father’s reluctance to admit to her existence, friends that always seemed to want something rather than just be there for her. These elements of Marilyn's life are all too familiar to many of us and they have given me a greater understanding of the lady behind the legend.

My thoughts on her death are irrelevant. I wasn't there, I didn't know everything, and my love of conspiracy would no doubt cloud my judgement. Wolfe hasn't cleared that up for me but he has shown that something happened that caused many people to be uncomfortable enough to skew an investigation. Whether they said what they said and did what they did to cover up a murder, or whether the embarrassment of losing a screen icon on their watch was too much to bear I don't think we'll ever know, so if you want answers to her demise then this book won't help you. If you want a definitive account of her life and a timetable of events put together really well then no other book will do.

Follow Steve on Twitter at @STBwrites

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