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The Sound of Wings: The Life of Amelia Earhart
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The Sound of Wings: The Life of Amelia Earhart

3.82  ·  Rating Details ·  360 Ratings  ·  60 Reviews

When Amelia Earhart mysteriously disappeared in 1937 during her attempted flight around the world, she was already known as America's most famous female aviator. Her sense of daring and determination, rare for women of her time, brought her insurmountable fame from the day she became the first woman to cross the Atlantic in an airplane. In this definitive biography, Mary

Paperback, 464 pages
Published September 1st 2009 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published 1989)
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Louise Annetta There are 60 pages of notes and references. This might be a good place to start. And many many many great photos.

Community Reviews

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Rebecca McNutt
Before reading The Sound of Wings I didn't know much about Amelia Earhart aside from the mysterious disappearance of her and her beloved plane in 1937, which has been the topic of numerous conspiracy theories and the like. After reading this book, I feel almost like I know her personally. An inspiration for pilots to take flight and for women to aspire to be more than just simple housewives, this book talks about a woman who dared to follow her dreams of being up in the air. With the help of her ...more
I read a biography written for children on Amelia Earhart years ago. So this is my first foray in reading about her from an adult perspective. I've read several books that talked about Lindbergh and WWI flyers so I feel I have some background in the times and aviation history she lived in.

One reason I liked this book is the author really wrote a dual biography here. She told the story of Amelia but also of her one and only husband, George Putnam. Others can tell so much about us about the books
Heather Denigan
I came to this bio almost complete ignorant of Amelia Earhart. I knew only that she was a pilot and that she mysteriously disappeared. So who is this American icon and why is she so admired? That is what I wanted to find out.
First off, Lovell is more interested in G.P Putnam than Amelia. Not that she doesn't like Amelia, but that Amelia feels like a shadow beside her energetic husband. Really, this bio is a defense of the Putnam-Earhart marriage. Which I appreciate. Secondly, I didn't come away
This book does an excellent job of explaining Amelia Earhart's achievements and putting them in the context of her time. It also highlights the achievements of a number of her now lesser known contemporaries, which I found fascinating.

I especially enjoyed the descriptions of the intrepid women aviators at the national races: (view spoiler)

This is really a double biography - it devotes significant t
Jul 06, 2007 Brian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I recently finished two books on Amelia Earhart, including this one (The Sound of Wings) and the one by Dorothy Rich. They were both very informative, but The Sound of Wings was much better. I thought the author of The Sound of Wings had a much more inquisitive mind and was more disposed to view George Putnam (Amelia's husband) with an open mind. I thought Dorothy Rich made up her mind early on that she didn't much like or care for George Putnam (it was true that most people didn't like him). I ...more
Sep 29, 2009 Leticia rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I just couldn't get into this book. I thought I would have enjoyed it much more. If you are looking for a book filled with every historical detail in Earhart's life, this is for you. It was interesting to read about how she came to be a pilot, but it also showed a side to Earhart that I never knew. Growing up I had this imagine of her as some heroine. While she was quite known and famous for her role as a leading female pilot, she really wasn't that great or skilled as she was made out to be.
Kay Van Slyke
Nov 12, 2014 Kay Van Slyke rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an interesting view of the relationship between George Putnam and Amelia Earhart. They seemed to be a good match in that they were both publicity seekers. The book deals mostly with their personal lives and not as much on the theories of Amelia's disappearance, allow these are covered some in the appendices. All in all a good read.
Laura Edwards
Jul 21, 2017 Laura Edwards rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Through a good portion of "The Sound of Wings", I believed the book was going to rate a 4. But reading the final third became a real chore and dragged down the rating. While the writing is good, the actual telling of the story hit too many snags.

To me, the book was more a biography on Amelia Earhart AND George Putnam. Interesting, but not what I was looking for. Maybe a truer cover portrait would be a snapshot of both of them so the reader is prepared. I understand that a nuanced picture of Geor
Jul 15, 2017 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have been slow to realize, but Mary S. Lovell is one of my favorite writers. Lovell approached this subject with previously conceived judgements, but over the course of research and writing changed her mind about who Amelia Earhart and George Puntman really were.

This is somewhat a dual biography of the famous couple. How they came to know each other and push each other to unknown heights (both literally and figuratively).
Donald Ross
May 26, 2017 Donald Ross rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was an excellent story of Amelia, George and their lives. I learned so much that I didn't know about Amelia and her fateful flight.
Jul 11, 2017 Timothee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyable reading and a great perspective that seems as fair as can be :)
Much appreciated reading it especially as new details came about AE disappearance ;)
Mar 24, 2009 Suzanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Stephanie
Shelves: non-fiction
I came to this book with a long-standing appreciation for Earhart's basic character and role in women's history, but with little knowledge about the details of her life. Therefore I gained a lot from diving into such a thorough study of the the people and events that made her into the legend she has become.

The author parallels the life story of Amelia with that of George Putnam, her husband and publicist--demonstrating how integral he was to her success. While there are those who think of AE as
Sep 24, 2013 Laura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: three-star
An historically accurate, intriguing biography about Ms. Earhart, who made aviation accessible in a time of great stigma and prejudice towards women. Well researched, with significant emphasis placed upon Amelia's relationship with her publicist husband, and that of senior aviation officials.

Earhart is perhaps one of the lesser known feminist pioneers. It is only right that biographers draw attention to her dedication and ambition to challenge social norms, as this author has so readily done. I
Doug Dams
Jan 15, 2012 Doug Dams rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I learned a great deal about Amelia Earhart from this book. She was a fascinating woman and a great advocate for women and aviation. The book deals a lot with her marriage and relationship to George Putnam. The author takes the position that people remember Amelia Earhart more than other woman pilots was because of the publicity that George promoted for Amelia. He was in the vanguard of promotion in that time period. I didn't know that Amelia's first crossing of the Atlantic was mostly as a pass ...more
Feb 09, 2017 Holly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was great! Biographies always take me an age to read so I'm glad I got ahead in my Goodreads challenge before starting this!!!

I've always been fascinated by Amelia Earhart but it turns out I didn't know the half of it! At its heart this biography is a love story, and though at first I was slightly concerned by there being whole chapters dedicated to her husband, George, they ended up being incredibly integral. That the book ends celebrating their love is fitting. Amelia was a badass, (who
Nov 18, 2014 Bing rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an inspiring book to read, especially for a woman. Amelia pushed the boundaries of aviation and promoted women flyers to excel in this field, which was (and still is) a male dominated territory. She was a true pioneer and her passion and courage captured the imagination of everyone, including those outside the aviation-world, right to this day. I didn't expect the part played by her husband, George, in her success. His life and achievements was as interesting, if not more, the way I see ...more
Feb 03, 2011 Emma rated it really liked it
Mary S. Lovell sets aside many notions that had already been written about Amelia Earhart and her husband, George Palmer Putnam, and has written an interesting history of their life together. I did not realize that many of Amelia's peers and contemporaries found her wanting as a pilot. I also find it sad that the round-the-world flight was said to be her last planned "dangerous" flight anyway (although Amelia often said things and then went on to attempt more flights).
I enjoyed the book very muc
Nov 27, 2012 Ann rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
This biography of Amelia Earhart was quickly appraised as the definitive biography. Mary Lovell does a good job of presenting various sides to Amelia's story achieving a balanced presentation especially of the events of Amelia's final flight. Lovell's writing is somewhat terse and abrupt but this style seems to fit the times and story told. The book starts with Amelia's grandparents, so it is really a biography and not just a story about Amelia as a pilot nor her round the world flight attempt. ...more
Dawn Mateo
Jan 18, 2010 Dawn Mateo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was very very well researched by the author and contain a plethora of information that I formally didn't know about Miss Earhart and Mr. Putnam. The author went to the wonderful extents of actually interviewing thse who knew both Earhart and Putnam. She was also able to obtain letter and document from reamining family and friends. The book, while sometimes confusing, was very eloquently written. I would recommend this book for anyone who is even slightly interested in Amelia. This book ...more
Ellie Diffin
Jan 20, 2015 Ellie Diffin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: aviation
I loved this book as I learned a lot about Amelia, as I went in to this book with a very small amount of knowledge. This book really portrayed what Amelia's life was like and how she got in to flying and became such an icon around the world. The focus on George and Amelia's relationship definitely helped me to realise what a key part he had in Amelia's fame and career, as without the publicity she wouldn't have been able to have fulfil her passion by doing as much flying as she did. 5* book, if ...more
Oct 27, 2009 Diane rated it really liked it
I wanted to read this biography of Amelia Earhart before I saw the movie about her that was released this fall. She lead a very interesting life always advocating for equality for women. She was about my age when she disappeared. Much of the book centers on her relationship with her publicist husband who the author credits with keeping Amelia in the public eye during her life and after her disappearance. Reading about the early days of aviation was enjoyable too. We take very much for granted th ...more
Erika Swyler
Not nearly so comprehensive as Susan Butler's "East to the Dawn." It's more of a biography in tandem, of Earhart and Putnam. Compared to other Earhart biographers, Lovell is comparatively unromantic--a welcome change. However, her exploration of Earhart's early life is somewhat lacking, and her overall opinion seems to have been influenced by people who had an ax to grind with Putnam. Required "devil's advocate" reading for Earhart enthusiasts.
A wonderful look into the life and disappearance of Amelia Earhart. Especially focuses on why Amelia became so famous when she probably wasn't the best aviatrix of her time. Her marriage to George Putnam, from the famous Putnam publishing family, helped of course but also her own ambition.
It took me awhile to get into this story but biographies are often deeper than the other stories I read but this was wonderful.
May 05, 2010 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this biography of Amelia Earhart. I really knew almost nothing about her before reading this and she was quite interesting. I also enjoyed reading about her husband George Putnam although I at times I felt the author was pushing an overly positive agenda about him. The sad thing is that I became quite fond of Amelia by the end of the book so although I knew what was coming, it was a fresh tragedy to me.
Nov 30, 2009 Chris rated it liked it
I'm not much of a biography reader, but this was pretty good. I learned alot more about Amelia Earhart's life. She's been one of my hero's since I was little. I found out she was married to George Putnam. He was a publisher and if wasn't for his efforts to publize Amelia, she would have not been remembered for her flying records where she constantly tried to be the best female pilot of her time. She was quite liberal but a very humbled person.
Dec 05, 2014 Amy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Amy by: like Lovell biographies
A good read about an interesting woman who led an interesting life. I enjoyed learning about the role that George Putnam and his publicity expertise played in making Earhart a household name. And also that AE was only an average aviator, not a brilliant one. The book sheds little light on the mystery of AE's disappearance.
Dec 14, 2009 Shirlene rated it really liked it
After going to the latest movie about Amelia Earhart, I was interested in reading more about her. This is one of the main books used as a reference for the movie. However, the books is a biography of George Putman, as well as Amelia. A story of a brave woman who had the courage to live her dream.
Paige Norwood
Jan 03, 2016 Paige Norwood rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical, bio
Granted, I've not read any Amelia Earheart bios, but this was really nice because it details her entire life, not just the unsolved downing. It also speaks to GPP's early life and chronicles their relationship and how he coped after her disappearance. There are many books on the downing, and this does have indices that speak to that, but not the focus.
Apr 20, 2011 Stacey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting profile of the life of Amelia Earhart, and the people behind her. Definitely took down the untouchable heroine myth, and portrayed her as a flawed and very ambitious woman. Which doesn't necessarily make me like her less. If you like biographies that portray a different side of our heroes, I'd recommend this one.
Nov 02, 2009 Erica rated it liked it
An interesting bio for someone who knew nothing about A.E. (like me). Lovell seemed to want to argue that A.E.'s husband, George Putnam, wasn't as bad as many biographers have made him out to be. She spent as much time on him as on Amelia, which was fine because he seemed very interesting. I enjoyed it but it's not a "must read".
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Mary was an accountant and company director for 20 years before becoming a writer. She wrote her first book in 1981 at the age of 40, while recovering from a broken back which was the result of a riding accident. She returned to accountancy but during the following 5 years she also published two further non-fiction books that were written in her spare time.

She lives in the New Forest in Hampshire,
More about Mary S. Lovell...

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