East to the Dawn: The Life of Amelia Earhart

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Overview

The image we have of Amelia Earhart today - a tousle-haired, androgynous flier clad in shirt, silk scarf, leather jacket, and goggles - is only one of her many personas, most of which have been lost to us through the years. Many of her accomplishments have been obscured by a growing obsession with the mystery of her disappearance. As well, Earhart herself was a master of putting on faces: a woman constantly striving for success and personal freedom in the 1920s and '30s, she could scarcely afford to let on when ...
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East to the Dawn: The Life of Amelia Earhart

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Overview

The image we have of Amelia Earhart today - a tousle-haired, androgynous flier clad in shirt, silk scarf, leather jacket, and goggles - is only one of her many personas, most of which have been lost to us through the years. Many of her accomplishments have been obscured by a growing obsession with the mystery of her disappearance. As well, Earhart herself was a master of putting on faces: a woman constantly striving for success and personal freedom in the 1920s and '30s, she could scarcely afford to let on when something was troubling her. Through years of research, however, as well as interviews with many of the surviving people who knew Amelia, Susan Butler has recreated a remarkably vivid and multi-faceted portrait of this enigmatic figure. As a result, readers experience Amelia in all her permutations: not just as a pilot, but also as an educator, a social worker, a lecturer, a businesswoman, and a tireless promoter of women's rights; we experience a remarkably energetic and enterprising woman who succeeded in life beyond her wildest dreams, while never losing sight of her beginnings; and we experience a woman who battled incredible odds to achieve her fame, while ensuring that her success would secure a path for women after her.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This biography of Amelia Earhart, one of several available, is a mixed bag. Butler, who has written for Barron's and the New York Times, is not overawed by her subject; her text is readable, well documented, and insightful. She devotes far more attention, however, to Earhart's genealogy than to the central event of her life: her attempted round-the-world flight and mysterious disappearance. The controversy over Earhart's flying skills is touched upon, but Butler's defense could have been more forceful and detailed, as could her handling of the various crash theories and Earhart's legacy for women in aviation. A minor quibble: Butler writes, "No other adventurer...had pulled off such a clever feat...no other adventurer could write" about her travel exploits; she then describes later how the reporter/ adventurer Nelly Bly had done exactly that in the previous century, a surprising oversight. Recommended for general collections, but don't look for major revelations. (Illustrations not seen.)Barbara Ann Hutcheson, Greater Victoria P.L., B.C.
Booknews
Journalist Butler deepens the familiar picture of the US flier who vanished mysteriously in 1937 to reveal Earhart's personae as an educator, a social worker, a lecturer, a businesswoman, and a promoter of women's rights. She also provides details about that last flight and wades through the accumulated mythology to seek a reasonable explanation for her loss. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
Emily Leider
Butler shows a mastery of aviation history, and considerable sophistication about the technology of flight and navigation.
The New York Times Book Review
Kirkus Reviews
This exhaustive new biography, coming on the centennial of Earhart's birth, throws new light on many of the more controversial elements of the aviator's life and death.

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 aviator—wearing her signature trousers and jacket, blond hair and silk scarf blowing, beckoning to the free spirit in all of us—does powerfully come through.

From the Publisher
The New Yorker, 9/14
“Definitive.”

Emily Wortis Leider, New York Times Book Review
“The mountain of new material it marshals guarantees “East to the Dawn” a permanent place on the shelf of Amelia Earhart references.”

Cari Beauchamp, Los Angeles Times
“The reader closes “East to the Dawn” with the lingering realization of how truly contemporary Amelia Earhart remains and with a new understanding of the love and admiration she earned from colleagues and the public at large… and her insistence on being her own person while fighting for causes larger than herself continue to command our respect and fuel our dreams.”

Renee Graham, Boston Globe
"[An] expansive biography… Rich with detail, “East to the Dawn” is an important book… certainly the most comprehensive Earhart biography in recent years. It stirs Earhart, who would have turned 100 this year, from the mists of myth, and finds the flesh-and-blood humanity within the alabaster icon.”

Kirkus Reviews, 9/15/97
This exhaustive new biography, coming on the centennial of Earhart's birth, throws new light on many of the more controversial elements of the aviator's life and death. 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…Butler's flat writing style somewhat undermines her portrait of Earhart's singular emotional and physical courage. Nonetheless, the still enthralling figure of the aviator—wearing her signature trousers and jacket, blond hair and silk scarf blowing, beckoning to the free spirit in all of us—does powerfully come through. (b&w photos, not seen).

CBS News Director Mira Nair
“Extraordinary.”

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781441706898
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/15/2009
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Pages: 15
  • Product dimensions: 5.26 (w) x 5.94 (h) x 1.92 (d)

Meet the Author

Susan Butler is a journalist who lives in Central Florida.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 14 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 15 of 14 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2010

    Inspiring, and not just for Amelia Earhart fans

    I was initially interested in this book because Amelia Earhart was my childhood hero. While I am not an aviator, I was inspired by her ability to transcend role expectations for women, and to build a fulfilling life for herself by following her dreams. This book does not disappoint in highlighting those aspects of her life. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the research into her family history. I came to believe that the story of the factors in her background that contributed to making her who she was would have been fascinating even if she didn't ultimately become a famous person. It made me hunger for more personalized genealogical histories such as this, no matter who the subject!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 6, 2010

    Very well written

    This book was very well written and well researched. The details the author puts in are amazing. My only complaint would be that the book did not address the many rumors surrounding her disappearance but it is a minor complaint at that.

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  • Posted March 10, 2010

    Long book

    I find this book slow reading as it is so heavily weighted with biographic information.
    Great read for aviation enthusiasts. I was reading it to learn about the woman herself.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 21, 2010

    East to the dawn

    Historical in nature - well written- compelling - easy to read -

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  • Posted February 6, 2010

    Great Biography

    Details of her life and times not covered in other biograhies. You can tell much research went into writing this book.

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  • Posted December 30, 2009

    didn't like it

    see the movie!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted December 17, 2012

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    Posted November 18, 2009

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    Posted December 28, 2009

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    Posted February 2, 2010

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    Posted September 19, 2009

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    Posted November 15, 2009

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    Posted June 18, 2011

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