Jill Lepore is an American history professor at Harvard University, a staff writer at The New Yorker, and the author of many works of popular nonfiction. Her latest is If Then: How the Simulmatics Corporation Invented the Future.
If Then: How the Simulmatics Corporation Invented the Future – This book tells the story of the Simulmatics Corporation, which pioneered many of the same methods that Facebook, Google, and Amazon use today. This buried history was uncovered by Lepore and exposes the earliest attempt at using computers to alter human behavior. The corporation employed some of the brightest social scientists of the day, who believed they had invented “the A-bomb of the social sciences”. This is the long-lost history of the origins of Silicon Valley’s current model, arrogance, and misunderstanding of its consequences. Netflix’s The Social Dilemma is good follow-up viewing.
The Secret History of Wonder Woman – A cultural history of Wonder Woman, but really a biography of her creator William Moulton Marston. Oh, where to begin with this guy? He was a Harvard trained psychologist, the inventor of the lie detector test. He invented Wonder Woman, who would later go on to be a feminist icon. He entered into a polyamorous relationship with his wife and one of his college students, Olive Byrne, who was the niece to Margaret Sanger. They kept this relationship secret, from the public, and their own children. The story only takes more twists and turns. Jill Lepore creates a real page-turner where you would not expect to find one. Though not directly based on Lepore’s book Professor Marston and the Wonder Women is a dramatized cinematic release that covers the same ground.
These Truths: A History of the United States – Jill Lepore is at her best when writing about American history, and this book covers a lot of it. It is an honest account of the history of our country, and she does not shy away from asking the tough questions. Have the events in our past lived up to the mythology we have of them? The United States is a contradiction, she says, born from both ideals, and an opposite reality. It’s the American story, and it’s a lot more complicated than the one we learned in school.
Jill Lepore has written a number of other great books as well, some about American history, and others on quirky topics. You can access them here.