A few years ago, when I first began reading and reviewing biographies, I came across an unfamiliar word I had to look up in the dictionary - "hagiography." The first definition said "a biography of Saints" and the second "a worshipful or idealizing biography." And this book is an excellent example of a hagiography, especially that second definition.
Most people have heard of Amelia Earhart, famous aviatrix who vanished somewhere over the Pacific Ocean while attempting to fly around the world in 1937. I wasn't aware she was also a social worker and pioneer for women's rights. And parts of this book were interesting, such as her upbringing and efforts to reach new milestones of air travel, and the book description claims to have previously unknown information. The account of her disappearance was interesting, and doesn't wander excessively far into unsubstantiated theories. But the tone of the book is far too worshipful. Ms. Butler paints an Amelia Earhart who was always a self-assured, unflappable, imperturbable, cool and collected woman in easy control of all aspects of her life; who never had doubts or second-thoughts, regrets or misgivings. She portrays her marital infidelity as courageous, strong, fearless, and even practical. She seems to take all quotes at face value rather than showing any healthy skepticism expected of a historian. She spends too much time discussing Earhart's genealogy while the ending feels a bit abrupt. And it all seems too much to believe.
I'm not saying a biography has to expose dirt to be believable, but when the subject is portrayed as perfect it just doesn't feel realistic. In fact, reading between the lines, Earhart almost comes off as unpleasantly conceited and something of a celebrity press hound. Also, most of her flights seem mostly unremarkable. That may not be a fair conclusion, but a reader couldn't tell from this book. I'd rather learn about the struggles the person surmounted, personal and public, that makes their life and accomplishments worth reading about. I'd like to know the person was human. And this is too substantial of a book to invest time in (nearly 19 hours in audio book format) if it's not balanced or honest. If you're only interested in one Earhart biography like me, I recommend looking for a better one.