Brian's Reviews > East To The Dawn: The Life Of Amelia Earhart

East To The Dawn by Susan Butler
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's review
Jul 27, 2007

it was amazing
Read in July, 2007

Susan Butler's "East to the Dawn: the life of Amelia Earhart," is hands-down the best book I have read about Amelia Earhart. It was meticulously researched (it took her 10 years to research and write the book, and it shows) and also included insights into the life of this early 20th Century feminist that could only have been provided by a woman author. In much the same way that Doris Goodwin Kearns brought a woman's insight into the White House life of Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt in "No Ordinary Time," Susan Butler does in writing about Amelia Earhart. Amelia's contributions to and hopes for women were far more fully described in this book than in the three others I have also read about her.

Susan Butler also doesn't try to hide Amelia's blemishes, nor does she overstate the overbearing personality of George Putnam, her husband. She gives a very balanced account of their life together, which was sometimes rocky.

Another very nice aspect of the book was the inclusion of some research not found or not described in the other biographies of Amelia, including some correspondence between Fred Noonan (her navigator on the last flight) and a female friend of his, whom Amelia and Fred visited on their stay in Miami, their last U.S. stop-over on the final flight. This correspondence sheds new light and casts additional uncertainty about Fred's problems with alcohol as a potential reason for their failure on the last leg of their round the world flight on which they disappeared, 70 years ago this month.

The inclusion of materials on Gene Vidal (Gore's father), who served as Secretary to Commerce for Aviation Affairs during the FDR administration, was also extremely interesting and contributed to a fuller understanding of the work involved in preparing for the Final Flight. Amelia's relationship with Gene was also the human element that I usually find extremely interesting in non-fiction and biographical books.

If Amelia interests you at all and you are only going to read one book about her, make this the one.

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