Amelia Earhart Search Forum => News, Views, Books, Archival Data & Interviews on AE => Topic started by: Martin X. Moleski, SJ on September 12, 2009, 06:20:02 AM

Title: New Yorker article: The life of Amelia Earhart
Post by: Martin X. Moleski, SJ on September 12, 2009, 06:20:02 AM
The article is available online now. (http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/atlarge/2009/09/14/090914crat_atlarge_thurman)  "Ric Gillespie" is in the keywords for the article (!).

Title: Re: New Yorker article: The life of Amelia Earhart
Post by: Norman Daly on September 14, 2009, 06:04:03 PM
Ahoy Marty:

I read the article, but was left wishing there was more emphasis on TIGHAR'S hypothesis and upcoming expedition to the island. The article will serve, however, to increase public awareness of Amelia and hopefully, TIGHAR.

Title: Re: New Yorker article: The life of Amelia Earhart
Post by: Martin X. Moleski, SJ on September 14, 2009, 06:16:38 PM
I know how you feel.

But Ric and Finding Amelia got top billing in the search words and a fair amount of ink in the article.  I think that is pretty significant.

If folks are intrigued by him and the Niku hypothesis, they should be able to find TIGHAR fairly easily.

Title: Re: New Yorker article: The life of Amelia Earhart
Post by: Monty Fowler on September 21, 2009, 09:03:00 PM
Any publicity is good publicty is good publicity if it brings in some $$$ to help fund the next expedition. Or so my my myopic view of things tends to be.
Title: Re: New Yorker article: The life of Amelia Earhart
Post by: Lawrence M Glazer on September 22, 2009, 10:58:13 AM
Ric had better get ready, because this next 12 months TIGHAR is going to receive more attention than any of us ever dreamed of.

When an article about (or somehow related to ) a new commercial product appears in the New Yorker, it is extremely significant (the commercial product in this case is, of course, the movie).

It means that an expensive, sophisticated,  major-league public relations campaign is underway. The world's attention is going to be directed, expertly, to Amelia.


Lawrence Glazer

Title: Re: New Yorker article: The life of Amelia Earhart
Post by: Ric Gillespie on September 23, 2009, 02:17:32 PM
This is the Letter to the Editor I just sent to The New Yorker:

“Missing Woman – Amelia Earhart’s flight”
The New Yorker, September 14, 2009

It’s hardly surprising that the imminent release of the star-studded Hollywood biopic “Amelia” should prompt a re-examination of the career and character of America’s favorite missing person.  New Yorker Fashion Editor Judith Thurman’s deconstruction of the Earhart legend may not be the first, and certainly will not be the last, but it may be the most brutal. Thurman describes Earhart as a “charismatic dilettante” who was “saintlike only as a martyr to her own ambition.”  “Her legend,” Thurman says, “to a large degree, was [her promoter/husband] Putnam’s creation.”

It’s a bold approach, but if you are going to tilt at icons it’s best to be mounted on solid research.

The article is loosely built around a few Earhart books, one of which is my own Finding Amelia (Naval Institute Press, 2006), but it is painfully apparent that Thurman never read it.  Her account of the Lae/Howland flight buys into a number of myths and mysteries that Finding Amelia lays conclusively to rest with solid documentation.  She does, however, expend considerable ink on the Nikumaroro Hypothesis, the research behind it, and the evidence that supports it – none of which is covered in Finding Amelia.  Unfortunately, she attributes everything solely to me.  TIGHAR, the research organization it is my privilege to lead and whose dedicated scholars, scientists, historians and archaeologists are largely responsible for our success in unraveling much of the Earhart enigma, isn’t even mentioned. The omission is unconscionable. Thurman never contacted me directly but she cannot have gotten the information she included in the article without knowing that I am but the tip of a very large iceberg. Indeed, the New Yorker fact-checker who called with a few questions reached me at TIGHAR. She should have checked more facts. Thurman describes me as “a former airline crash investigator who is notably unimpressed with his subject.” I never investigated an airline crash, but it is true that I have been known for, and occasionally pilloried for, my failure to join the Amelia Fan Club.  Ironically, in this case it seems to have enhanced my credibility.
Thurman goes into a surprising amount of detail about TIGHAR’s findings but then gets some of it oddly wrong. She describes the colonial adminstrator’s discovery of the castaway’s bones and the modern re-evaluation of the measurements by forensic anthropologists.  She says, “Their verdict, according to Gillespie, is that they probably belonged to a female, about five feet seven (Earhart was an inch taller), of Northern European origin.”  There’s no need for the qualifier “according to Gillespie.”  The study by Drs. Burns, Jantz and King is on the TIGHAR website. And I have no idea where she got that bit about five feet seven.  Neither the forensic anthropologists nor I ever made such a specific claim.
Thurman allows as how “Gillespie’s case is circumstantial” and that [author Susan] "Butler and the Longs (Marie and Elgen) are among the informed skeptics who take issue with it.”  Apparently she didn’t talk to Elgen either or she’d know that Marie passed away several years ago.  Thurman then spends the rest of the paragraph defending the Nikumaroro Hypothesis by talking about the post-loss signals, signs of recent habitation, the line of position, airplane artifacts in the village, etc.  She concludes that “only a DNA sample can lay Earhart’s ghost to rest.  That, Gillespie hopes, is what the underbrush and sands will yield.” It’s nice that the article devotes so much space to TIGHAR’s work. I just wish the author had done a better job researching it and had properly credited it.