The mysterious disappearance of aviator Amelia Earhart has always fascinated us. She was bold and brave, a risk taker. The first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. And on July 2, 1937, she boarded her plane with navigator Fred Noonan, intending to fly around the globe. She was never seen again.
Under their category of Weird News, the Huffington Post noted a new book proposes that Earhart was spying on the Japanese for the United States. It reports that she was shot down, taken as a prisoner of war, and then released at the end of the war. Strangely it purports that she lived until 1982 under the name of Irene Craigmile Bolam.
I wondered about this new look at the history of Earhart. Is it good or bad for her reputation?
As an informal scholar of Ancient Rome, I’ve always been suspicious of who writes history. The ancient Roman writers, all male, wrote about women as an exercise of teaching others a lesson. Women whom they thought were “good” were exonerated and women who they were thought were “bad” were disparaged. Today scholars are taking another look at Ancient Rome, and now they see women in a more balanced way.
Is this new theory good for Earhart and her reputation?
If Earhart served as a spy (and although there is apparently no documentation that supports this theory), I can understand it. The world was ramping up to war in 1937, and China and Japan were already fighting. Certainly someone with Earhart’s ability could gather information for the United States.
If Earhart was captured by the Japanese and survived as a prisoner-of-war, then she had strength and fortitude and luck. I would admire her for all of those things.
I cannot understand why she would assume another name and live the rest of her life incognito. It’s almost as if being a risk-taking aviator was not who she was. That she would give up doing all the bold things she once did, as if they weren’t part of who she was. It would suggest that she was somehow “broken.”
It doesn’t make sense to me. And it doesn’t help her reputation.