East to the Dawnby Susan Butler
Amelia Earhart (18971937) captured the hearts of the enitre nation after becoming the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean in 1928. She was a social worker, author, lecturer, businesswoman, educator, and tireless promoter of women's rights. Yet, over half a century after her mysterious disappearance, many questions remain unanswered. East to
Amelia Earhart (18971937) captured the hearts of the enitre nation after becoming the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean in 1928. She was a social worker, author, lecturer, businesswoman, educator, and tireless promoter of women's rights. Yet, over half a century after her mysterious disappearance, many questions remain unanswered. East to the Dawn finally sets the record straight, providing the most comprehensive account to date of Earhart's extraordinary life. Based on ten years of research through archives, letters, and diaries, and on interviews with friends and relatives, this book includes intricate details about Earhart's career and her fateful last flight, with excerpts from letters written during the journey by her navigator Fred Noonan. The author also traces Earhart's personal life: her early years with her grandparents; her experiences as a nurse, premed student at Columbia University, and social worker; her famous marriage to publisher George Putnam; and her secret affair with Gene Vidal. This biography presents a revealing picture of Earhart in all her complexity, and is sure to be the last word on her incredible flying record.
The New York Times Book Review
Earhart was a self-possessed and downright adventurous young woman. Her two enduring passions were flying and social work, endeavors that both seem to have captivated the feminine imagination in her time. By the time she was 25, Earhart "had become one of those early mythical heroes of the sky whom people came to see at air meets and dreamed of emulating." She "vagabonded" across the country solo in a plane and, with the help of her husband, publishing giant George Putnam, had the book documenting her tale out on the stands less than two weeks after completion of the feat. The list of her flight achievements is lengthy and impressive. But it is the cool yet inspired marriage between Putnam and Earhart, two inveterate adventurers, that lies at the core of Butler's biography. Putnam was a brilliant media spin-doctor who relentlessly promoted his wife's image. Butler's study raises some provocative questions (Was Earhart a feminist or just a singular human being? Were her feats victories for women everywhere or victories for pure heroism?) without convincingly answering them. But if the study isn't always persuasive in its answers, it is filled with wonderful details about Earhart's glamorous lifestyle and the wild, dangerous world of early aviators. Earhart disappeared at sea in 1938, trying to be the first pilot to circumnavigate the earth at its widest point, before turning 40. Even the manner of her death contrived to sustain America's fascination with her.
Butler's flat writing style somewhat undermines her portrait of Earhart's singular emotional and physical courage. Nonetheless, the still enthralling figure of the aviatorwearing her signature trousers and jacket, blond hair and silk scarf blowing, beckoning to the free spirit in all of usdoes powerfully come through.
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