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.
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.
Susan Butler has combined faultless research with first-rate writing to bring Amelia Earhart into sharp focus. The book reads as though she knew Earhart, liked her, and understood what made her soar. One of the best biographies I have read in a long time.