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Amelia Earhart's Shoes: Is the Mystery Solved? Updated ed. Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0759101319
ISBN-10: 0759101310
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"Whatever happened to Amelia Earhart?" has been an enduring question since she and her navigator, Fred Noonan, disappeared somewhere in the Pacific on July 2, 1937. Since then, the mystery has been "solved" by people who claim, among other things, that she was flying as a U.S. agent against the Japanese, that she died in a prisoner-of-war camp and that she was abducted by aliens. This book posits that due to bad weather, Earhart and Noonan missed their refueling stop on Howland Island in the mid-Pacific and landed on Nikumaroro, a small island south of their target. While most Earhart quests are based on imaginative, usually untested hypotheses, this volume is scrupulous in not making any unevidenced assertions. Working from a wide range of fields its authors are an archeological consultant, a geophysicist, a forensic anthropologist and an army engineer this book claims that human bones and a shoe found on Nikumaroro indicate that Earhart possibly landed and died there. Unlike other Earhart detectives, the authors repeatedly emphasize that their conclusions are tentative and conjectural. While their judgments are tantalizing and plausible, the fun of the book is being in on the excitement of the discoveries and the scientific testing of the hypothesis. Written in a colloquial, good-humored style that takes itself seriously but is not above cracking a joke to make a point, this is a must for "what happened to Amelia" fanatics, and also those who are interested in how science can be used to test the veracity of theories about historical mysteries.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

One of the enduring mysteries of the 20th century is the disappearance of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan in 1937 during their 'round-the-world flight. The International Group for Historic Aviation Recovery (TIGHAR), an organization of aviation archaeologists, has been on the trail of the plane and its passengers for nearly two decades. Here it makes a compelling case that they have found the fateful scene of the crash-landing on the uninhabited tropical island of Nikumaroro. Search parties have been to Nikumaroro five times to examine the reefs and nearby areas systematically and have found a piece of aluminum aircraft skin and a shoe that are consistent with the lost flight and its famous crew. There are competing theories about Earhart's disappearance, but in this engrossing description of the investigations, TIGHAR has produced one of the most cogent and plausible theories yet. This is a valuable and entertaining primer on the disappearance itself, and it just might hold the solution to one of aviation's greatest mysteries. Mel D. Lane, Sacramento, CA
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: AltaMira Press; Updated ed. edition (November 20, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0759101310
  • ISBN-13: 978-0759101319
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.1 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #621,423 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I got interested in archaeology at a tender age, and was a teen-aged pothunter by age 15.
But in about 1966, as an undergraduate at San Francisco State University (then College) surviving on the GI Bill and work in 'salvage archaeology,' I fell in with a remarkable fellow student named Eric Barnes, who mixed art and urban planning with anthropology in his creative brain, and he introduced me to a law just signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson ' the National Historic Preservation Act. Eric felt that it might be used to preserve and manage archaeological sites, rather than simply to get them dug up before they were destroyed. He convinced me, and my career lurched away from mainstream academic archaeology into what we now call 'cultural resource management' or CRM.

Over the next ten years I oversaw the UCLA Archaeological Survey, helped set up the Archaeological Research Unit at the University of California, Riverside and completed a PhD there in Anthropology, did fieldwork in California's North Coast Range, Sierra Nevada, and Mojave and Colorado Deserts, and along the Pacific coast from Los Angeles north to the Oregon border. I set up a private consulting firm in northern California, took part in litigation, helped organize the Society for California Archaeology, and helped coordinate a legislative effort that would have established a state archaeological survey, modeled on one in Arkansas, had the legislation to create it not fallen to a veto by Governor Ronald Reagan. Becoming unemployable in California, I was enabled by the late, great New York State archaeologist Marian White to shuffle across the continent to Buffalo to set up a contract archaeology program for the New York Archaeological Council. I lasted a bit over a year on the Niagara Frontier before being recruited by the National Park Service to help write regulations and guidelines for the newly enacted Archaeological and Historic Preservation Act. I was a bit over a year in Washington DC before being 'detailed' to Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands to help the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands with its historic preservation programs. A tough job, but somebody had to do it.

Returning to the mainland in 1977, having established a pattern of employment suggesting that I'd never work anyplace for more than two years at a time, I was honored to be asked by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation to head the office that nagged Federal agencies nationwide about compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. This took me back to Washington, where I actually worked for ten years with the Council, through the Reagan administration and the beginning of Bush I. Policy disputes then led me to quit in a huff and go back into private practice, where I remain to this day. At various times in the last twenty-plus years I've worked intensively for agencies like the General Services Administration, the Department of Defense, and the Farm Service Agency in the Department of Agriculture, and consulted a good deal with Indian tribes and Native Hawaiian groups, besides authoring several textbooks and a number of journal articles on CRM topics. I've taught short classes for the University of Nevada, Reno, with the National Preservation Institute, and SWCA Environmental Consultants. These days I work again for myself, teaching and consulting mostly for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and several Indian tribes. And I've returned to archaeology as the volunteer Senior Archaeologist on The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery's Amelia Earhart Search Project ' read all about it at www.tighar.org or in Amelia Earhart's Shoes (AltaMira Press 2004). Most recently I've tried my hand at a novel -- "Thirteen Bones," Dog Ear Press 2010-- built around the 1940 discovery of what were probably Earhart's bones on Nikumaroro in the Phoenix Islands.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Who says historical research and science have to be boring? In Amelia Earhart's Shoes, Dr. Tom King and others take us on a winding (sometimes loopy, even!) journey that tries to answer the question: What happened to famed aviatrix Amelia Earhart and renowned navigator Fred Noonan in 1937 after they vanished during her around-the-world flight attempt?

Amelia Earhart's Shoes does not pretend to solve the mystery - it does show that by applying the scientific method to a popular event, you can strip away all the myths and fables and assumptions and come up with relatively simple explanations that can be tested to see if they are true or false. That the scientific method may upset a few of those legendary apple carts along the way is proof that it works - something is either true or not true, provable or not provable. In Earhart's case, the truth may turn out to be much more mundane than some of the more colorful "solutions" to her disappearance would have us believe.

There is a lot of information in Shoes, but it is presented in an easy to read, almost chatty style (think ghost stories around the campfire while making s'mores) that keeps you turning the pages to see what the heck is going to happen next. The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) has now been to the South Pacific eight times to try and prove or disprove their hypothesis that Earhart and Noonan missed their destination, tiny Howland Island, and landed on another deserted island, only to die (or perhaps be completely missed) before the frantic searchers could get to them.

Amelia Earhart's Shoes is a great read that should be on the bookshelf of everyone interested in what really did happen out there in the vastness of the Pacific Ocean almost 70 years ago.
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Format: Hardcover
I had the opportunity to meet the primary author of this book (Tom King) recently and was impressed with his fact-based approach to the Earhart mystery. This book describes the search for artifacts from Earhart's last flight. The book presents evidence, analyzes its value and develops a hypothesis concerning the events of July, 1937. The author is primarily a archeologist, and while no "[fool]-proof" evidence is presented, what is known is presented and explained in scientific, but easy to read prose. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. My only nits with it are the reproductions of many of the photographs are poor, however, they can all be found at the TIGHAR web site.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"Amelia Earhart's Shoes: Is the Mystery Solved?", Udated 2004 Ed., Thomas F. King, et al., AltaMira Press, NY 2001, ISBN: 0-7591-0131-0, PB 374 pgs., plus 23 pg. Notes, 9 pg. Biblio., 20 pg. Index, & 104 B & W photos, illus. or maps., 6" x 9".

This is an academic work by a contingent of skilled scientific experts whose writings & basic investigative work was coordinated, in part & on behalf of TIGHAR (Int. Group of Historical Aircraft Recovery) & updated 2004. The 27 chapters describe a forensic approach to solve the mystery of aviatrix AE's disappearance enroute 2,223 miles to Howland Isle from Lae, New Guinea, July 2, 1937.

The book's format & length makes for difficult reading: -- it is based on best available scientific evidences & hypotheses of multiple disciplines of archeology, geophysics, aeronautics, anthropology, and review of both private & governmental archival information in addition to tabulating their search findings on tiny remote South Pacific Phoenix Isle "Gardner", but renamed Nikumaroro, or "Niku". Author was a principle TIGHAR investigator taking part in expeditions to Niku, & he writes with authority, -- having "been there, done that!"

Inclusion of more than 100 photos, illustrations, maps, etc., makes the reading more easily understood & tolerable: -- for it is not a book one picks up and being enchanted 'reads from cover to cover' without pause. For readers who want an up-to-date analysis of AE's disappearance this book is best read after the reader is thoroughly familiar with AE's character, avocations, skills, life experiences's and accolades by the press, politicians & the powerful, -- for Amelia was a complex person living in exciting, changing times on the cutting edge of new technologies.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I do not say this often, and I read a lot of books, but I had a hard time putting this one down. I know enough about Amelia Earhart to make a 30 second discussion, so I came at this with pretty fresh eyes. While deciding whether or not to purchase this book, I read many of the differing theories on her disappearance and the reactions to those theories (some quite vehement), and honestly feel like the authors gave a great description of the mystery and the available data.

I am of a scientific background and found the discussion coherent and the assumptions and theories logical. I would have liked a little more meat on the bones, so to speak, but the authors are living by donations to make whatever research opportunities they can - so it's okay. The presentation is scientific enough to satisfy nitpickers like me, but is definitely written for the layman. The tempo and style of the writing is very smooth, casual, and even self-deprecating at times. There were some very minor editing mistakes and presentation issues (my only real reason for not giving 5 stars), but forgivable, being a smaller publisher. If you liked the thought process and detective work of something like Jared Diamond's "Collapse" - but wanted something MUCH smaller or much more easily digested - this is a good choice. Not nearly as strict, detailed, or complete as "Collapse," but the same basic archeology and investigation principles.

Given that there was such (healthy) discord on the data and fieldwork, four authors, and competing groups - this book easily has one voice and should be well received by the other Earhart-philes out there. Kudos to the authors!
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