Amelia Earhart and the Search for Modern Feminism
Email this review


 A well-argued case that gives feminist substance to Amelia Earhart's firm place in the national pantheon. Ware (Modern American Women, 1989, etc.--not reviewed) contends that, in her roles as aviator, teacher, author, wife, and media personality, Earhart personified the ill-defined feminism of the 1920's and 30's. As she sketches the familiar Earhart saga- -illuminated by the two transatlantic flights that made her a national heroine--Ware places it firmly in the context of the era, when the organized struggle for women's equality had given way to what she calls ``liberal feminism,'' the celebration of individual achievement. In the nine years between Earhart's first transatlantic flight, in 1928 (on which she was a passenger, not the pilot), and her disappearance nine years later somewhere in the Pacific, Earhart often made the annual lists of the ten or fifty or one hundred most-achieving women, along with her friend Eleanor Roosevelt. What gave Earhart credibility wasn't only her courage and daring but her campaign to encourage women to step away from traditional pursuits and spread their wings. They could do what she'd done, literally or figuratively--so ran her message in speeches, newsreels, magazines, books, and a column for Cosmopolitan. Ware suggests that, as credible as Earhart's achievements were, she was also--thanks in great part to the marketing efforts of her husband--a forerunner of today's media personality; but the author's attempt to equate Earhart's boyish appeal with the mysterious sexuality of Garbo and Dietrich is unconvincing. What happened over the Pacific? No solutions are offered here, only a debunking of the rumor that Earhart's Pacific flight was really a spy mission--a notion, Ware says, that surfaced in the wake of a Rosalind Russell movie loosely inspired by the aviator's career. Strong in discussing Earhart as an advocate for women's equality, weaker in establishing her as an icon of popular culture. (Photographs--not seen)

Pub Date: Nov. 8th, 1993
ISBN: 0-393-03551-4
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Norton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1993


NonfictionGAME, SET, MATCH by Susan Ware
by Susan Ware
NonfictionFORGOTTEN HEROES by Susan Ware
by Susan Ware
NonfictionLETTER TO THE WORLD by Susan Ware
by Susan Ware