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Just in time for the 50th anniversary of Barbie is this behind-the-scenes look at her eccentric, determined inventor. Ruth Handler (1916-2002)was the ambitious and entrepreneurial 10th child of poor Polish immigrants. Disappointed with the unsophisticated dolls of the time, Ruth envisioned a doll that would allow young girls to act out their fantasies of the stylish young women they wanted to become. She modeled her creation on the Swiss doll "Bild-Lilli," a curvaceous plastic bombshell originally sold as a sex toy/gag gift and named her after her daughter Barbara. Handler fought indefatigably to establish herself in a male-dominated field, and history was made: 50 years later, Mattel is the biggest toy company in the world, and Barbie is sold at a rate of three dolls per second, worldwide. But Handler's rising star was short-lived; battered by breast cancer and convicted of shady business dealings in 1978, she wrenched her attentions away from Mattel and devoted herself to creating realistic, affordable prosthetic breasts for women who had lost one to a mastectomy. This stirring biography is a fine study of success and resilience. (Feb.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.