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Oh, you beautiful doll! Barbie and her creator, the sharp-elbowed gal who built the biggest toy company, have a story to tell. Drop that BlackBerry, bub; friends forever

Illustration for TIME by Terry Allen

Barbie and Ruth: The Story of the World's Most Famous Doll and the Woman Who Created Her By Robin Gerber Collins Business; 278 pages

She had an image issue right from the beginning. "No mother is going to buy her daughter a doll with breasts," Ruth Handler's husband and business partner Elliot insisted. Her other male colleagues at Mattel, the company she founded, concurred. But Handler, a 5-ft. 2-in. (1.6 m) dynamo, was convinced there was a market for a mass-produced adult doll. Little girls aspired to be bigger girls, she reasoned. For years she pressed on, finally introducing the doll...

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