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East to the Dawn: The Life of Amelia Earhart Paperback – August 11, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Anna Fields reads this workmanlike account of famed aviator Earhart with clarity and little drama. Earhart had drive, daring, and a conviction that women could equal men at any task. She lectured often on that theme between her record-breaking flights across oceans and continents from 1927 to 1937. Butler praises her uncritically and ignores others' speculations that Earhart was unfaithful to her husband but only with men; she wasn't sick and exhausted on flights; and her disappearance in 1937 was the result of merely running out of gas while lost over the Pacific. Butler's title suggests but cannot equal West with the Night, an aviation classic (in several audio versions, e.g., LJ 11/1/92). Yet, overall, this tribute to a courageous woman is a welcome addition. Recommended for popular biography collections.?Gordon Blackwell, Eastchester, NY
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From 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. (b&w photos, not seen) -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 520 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press; Media tie-in edition (August 11, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 030681837X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306818370
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #196,864 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Susan Butler was a journalist who wanted to write a book about an American woman who had achieved fame and fortune by virtue of her own natural talents. She settled on Earhart, knowing about her because her own mother had been a pilot in the 1930s, when people were still wary of getting into an airplane, much less fly one. Butler wanted to showcase Earhart's contributions to society, which had not at that time been recognized. East to the Dawn was an alternate Book of the Month Club choice, and was the basis for the movie Amelia, starring Hilary Swank.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 35 people found the following review helpful By C. Ellen Connally on March 14, 2001
Format: Audio Cassette
I grew up hearing bits and pieces about Amelia Earhart. There was always the slight inference that she may have been a lesbian and the stories about her possible capture by the Japanese. I found EAST TO THE DAWN illuminating and informative. The author makes Amelia much more of a feminist and political person than I had ever imagined. For example, I did not know about her friendship with Eleanor Roosevelt. But Amelia's friendship with Nancy Cook and Lorena Hitchock and involvment in the Val Kil project made me think that there may have been some validity to the rumors about her life style. It's also interesting how much the government did for her on her flights. The possible capture by the Japanese seems to me looking back in retrospect that it could be a form of very suttle anti Japanese propaganda. One of the previous reviewers commented that EAST TO THE DAWN finds no fault with Amelia - she was perfect in every way. Thinking about the book in retrospect, there is a lot of validity to that statement. But all in all the book gives a good view of women and their roles in society in the 1920's and 30's. It also give a whole new side of Amelia. As a result of this book I want to read more about Amelia. The author's conclusion that Amelia became bigger in death than she may have been in life is also valid but Amelia is one of those American icons that will live on and on because she died so young and under strange circumstances.
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 22, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Ms. Butler's book, written more or less to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Earhart's birth and the 60th of her final flight, is a hagiography, almost without critical balance. Earhart's very real accomplishments as social pioneer and aviator are fully documented, but all too fulsomely presented. Apparently everything she did was brilliant, every man she attracted was a genius, every record-breaking flight a triumph. The author (descended from a flying contemporary of Amelia Earhart) claims to have spent ten years researching and writing this book. She would have done well to include more of the flip side of Amelia Earhart: the sometime publicity hound who spent more time in front of microphones and cameras instead of practicing her flying skills for the Bendix air races, for example. The book shows more competence in its accounts of the navigation and mechanical problems of early flyers, and here the account of Earhart's final flight is illuminating. There is a concise account of the farrago of radio navigation problems that led to the loss of the Lockheed 10 Electra and its crew. Also, the author rightly debunks the old theories of the flight's having been a mission to spy on the Japanese in the Pacific. After reading this book, you will know a lot more about a person of remarkable courage and class, who should be (and unfortunately is not) a model for the women's movement of today. The book does not treat her complexity with the depth it deserves, but the author's warmth and dedication to her subject are commendable.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By J. Green VINE VOICE on January 21, 2010
Format: Audio CD
A few years ago, when I first began reading and reviewing biographies, I came across an unfamiliar word I had to look up in the dictionary - "hagiography." The first definition said "a biography of Saints" and the second "a worshipful or idealizing biography." And this book is an excellent example of a hagiography, especially that second definition.

Most people have heard of Amelia Earhart, famous aviatrix who vanished somewhere over the Pacific Ocean while attempting to fly around the world in 1937. I wasn't aware she was also a social worker and pioneer for women's rights. And parts of this book were interesting, such as her upbringing and efforts to reach new milestones of air travel, and the book description claims to have previously unknown information. The account of her disappearance was interesting, and doesn't wander excessively far into unsubstantiated theories. But the tone of the book is far too worshipful. Ms. Butler paints an Amelia Earhart who was always a self-assured, unflappable, imperturbable, cool and collected woman in easy control of all aspects of her life; who never had doubts or second-thoughts, regrets or misgivings. She portrays her marital infidelity as courageous, strong, fearless, and even practical. She seems to take all quotes at face value rather than showing any healthy skepticism expected of a historian. She spends too much time discussing Earhart's genealogy while the ending feels a bit abrupt. And it all seems too much to believe.

I'm not saying a biography has to expose dirt to be believable, but when the subject is portrayed as perfect it just doesn't feel realistic. In fact, reading between the lines, Earhart almost comes off as unpleasantly conceited and something of a celebrity press hound.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 23, 1999
Format: Hardcover
EAST TO THE DAWN not only gives the reader an incredibly detailed account of Amelia Earhart's life, but its presentation allows one to have a clear sense of the period, places and people of her life. From childhood in Kansas at the turn of the century, through an exciting adulthood which took her all over the world, you will feel that you are almost there. It is both informative and absorbing.
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