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The Sound of Wings: The Life of Amelia…

The Sound of Wings: The Life of Amelia Earhart (edition 2009)

by Mary S. Lovell

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Title:The Sound of Wings: The Life of Amelia Earhart
Authors:Mary S. Lovell
Info:St. Martin's Griffin (2009), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 464 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Sound of Wings: The Life of Amelia Earhart by Mary S. Lovell



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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 we read, the shows we watch, and the people we choose to be close to. If this is true then a good biography should also examine the subject’s relationships with people close to them.

Putnam and Earhart left the people they loved for each other. Putnam had been married for almost 20 years, Amelia was engaged but broke things off for Putnam. While such behavior frequently does not end well in their case their love lasted for years and only death separated them. They called each other by their initials. A.E. and G.P. They also had other pet names for each other.

A.E. traveled a lot on lecture tours. But they made a point that they called each other every day and/or wrote or cabled each other. The fact that G.P. was also her business partner and promoter certainly helped drive them together and keep them constantly engaged in the same endeavors. They were both very hard workers when they decided what they wanted. Putnam mentored many writers and knew how to have a book written quickly after an event to capitalize on public interest in some happening.

A.E. was a feminist in the sense that she believed that women should have the same opportunities to work outside the home that men have. Many people felt like a woman couldn't fly over the ocean alone, that they did not have enough stamina. She proved those naysayers wrong.

The author discusses the events that lead to her disappearance. The author touches on the different theories about what happened but does not take a side.

A.E. was very influential in her time. Without G.P. she probably would have faded from the scene fairly quickly. His skills as a publicist and his network of friends helped fund and draw attention to what A.E. did. Her story would not be the story it is without him. But, she forged her own path and decided what flights and records she wanted to shoot for while G.P. preferred to travel closer to the earth.

Overall well written. ( )
  Chris_El | Mar 19, 2015 |
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: flying with one hand holding the roof on! putting out a tail fire and carrying on!

This is really a double biography - it devotes significant time to the early life of Earhart's husband, George Putnam. I did not find this as interesting, especially as the author was quite defensive about Putnam and his reputation. She seemed to assume the audience had a pre-conceived attitude towards him that needed correcting. This may be true in general, but I had not heard of him prior, so found it a bit laboured in these sections. ( )
  daisyq | Mar 31, 2013 |
I read this because I was so appreciative of Mary Lovell's book on Beryl Markham, which I read 9 Aug 1999. This is really a dual biography, since it fully covers the life of Amelia Earhart's husband, George Putnam, as well as her life. Putnam was a leading figure in Bend, Oregan, in the early 20th century. One must conclude that Amelia Earhart was a very daring person but not really a good pilot. This book is valuable for its summary of theories as to what happened to Earhart--but one must conclude that she and her plane simply sank into the Pacific, and the Japanese had nothing to do with her death. ( )
  Schmerguls | Sep 4, 2011 |
Silly woman. Should have followed Anne Lindbergh's example and learned to use her radio. She certainly had a great PR man/husband. ( )
  picardyrose | May 18, 2010 |
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Courage is the price that Life exact for granting peace.
The soul that knows it not, knows no release
From little things;
Knows not the livid loneliness of fear,
Nor mountain heights where bitter joy can hear
The sound of wings.

How can Life grant us boon of living, compensate
For dull grey ugliness and pregnant hate
Unless we dare
The soul's dominion?  Each time we make a choice we pay
With courage to behold the restless day,
And count it fair.

--Amelia Earhart, "Courage" 1927
The book is dedicated to the memory of John A. Belcher
"He was a verray parfit gentil knight" --Chaucer's Canterbury Tales
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Introduction:  It is now more than fifty years since Amelia Earhart disappeared with attempting to be the first woman to fly around the world.
Prologue:  It was June 19, 1928.
Chapter One, The small town of Atchison, Kansas, seems an unlikely birthplace for a woman whose name, more than fifty years after her death remains synonymous with adventure, heroism, and posthumous mystery.
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Describes Earhart's tomboy childhood, her early fascination with airplanes, the impact of Lindbergh's 1927 transatlantic flight on her life, and her disappearance in 1937.

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