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Come Fly the World: The Jet-Age Story of the Women of Pan Am

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Glamour, danger, liberation: in a Mad Men–era of commercial flight, Pan Am World Airways attracted the kind of young woman who wanted out, and wanted up Required to have a college degree, speak two languages, and possess the political savvy of a Foreign Service officer, a jet-age stewardess serving on iconic Pan Am between 1966 and 1975 also had to be between 5′3" and 5′9" Glamour, danger, liberation: in a Mad Men–era of commercial flight, Pan Am World Airways attracted the kind of young woman who wanted out, and wanted up Required to have a college degree, speak two languages, and possess the political savvy of a Foreign Service officer, a jet-age stewardess serving on iconic Pan Am between 1966 and 1975 also had to be between 5′3" and 5′9", between 105 and 140 pounds, and under 26 years of age at the time of hire. Julia Cooke’s intimate storytelling weaves together the real-life stories of a memorable cast of characters, from Lynne Totten, a science major who decided life in a lab was not for her, to Hazel Bowie, one of the relatively few black stewardesses of the era, as they embraced the liberation of their new jet-set life. Cooke brings to life the story of Pan Am stewardesses’ role in the Vietnam War, as the airline added runs from Saigon to Hong Kong for planeloads of weary young soldiers straight from the battlefields, who were off for five days of R&R, and then flown back to war. Finally, with Operation Babylift—the dramatic evacuation of 2,000 children during the fall of Saigon—the book’s special cast of stewardesses unites to play an extraordinary role on the world stage.


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Glamour, danger, liberation: in a Mad Men–era of commercial flight, Pan Am World Airways attracted the kind of young woman who wanted out, and wanted up Required to have a college degree, speak two languages, and possess the political savvy of a Foreign Service officer, a jet-age stewardess serving on iconic Pan Am between 1966 and 1975 also had to be between 5′3" and 5′9" Glamour, danger, liberation: in a Mad Men–era of commercial flight, Pan Am World Airways attracted the kind of young woman who wanted out, and wanted up Required to have a college degree, speak two languages, and possess the political savvy of a Foreign Service officer, a jet-age stewardess serving on iconic Pan Am between 1966 and 1975 also had to be between 5′3" and 5′9", between 105 and 140 pounds, and under 26 years of age at the time of hire. Julia Cooke’s intimate storytelling weaves together the real-life stories of a memorable cast of characters, from Lynne Totten, a science major who decided life in a lab was not for her, to Hazel Bowie, one of the relatively few black stewardesses of the era, as they embraced the liberation of their new jet-set life. Cooke brings to life the story of Pan Am stewardesses’ role in the Vietnam War, as the airline added runs from Saigon to Hong Kong for planeloads of weary young soldiers straight from the battlefields, who were off for five days of R&R, and then flown back to war. Finally, with Operation Babylift—the dramatic evacuation of 2,000 children during the fall of Saigon—the book’s special cast of stewardesses unites to play an extraordinary role on the world stage.

30 review for Come Fly the World: The Jet-Age Story of the Women of Pan Am

  1. 4 out of 5

    Esta Montano

    In 1979 I became a flight attendant for Pan Am, The ten years that I spent traveling the world were perhaps the most exciting of my life, and by far the greatest learning experience I have every had. The airline's demise was devastating for us and many of us remain connected through Facebook pages. A number of books have been written by flight attendants, (including Pan Am flight attendants), and most of these have been on the frivolous side. When I saw Come Fly the World on NetGalley, I immedia In 1979 I became a flight attendant for Pan Am, The ten years that I spent traveling the world were perhaps the most exciting of my life, and by far the greatest learning experience I have every had. The airline's demise was devastating for us and many of us remain connected through Facebook pages. A number of books have been written by flight attendants, (including Pan Am flight attendants), and most of these have been on the frivolous side. When I saw Come Fly the World on NetGalley, I immediately wanted to read it, as belonging to Pan Am is to belong to a family. The book chronicles the lives of several Pan Am flight attendants as they joined the airline and journeyed around the world. What is different about these women is that their experiences are narrated with the backdrop of American history and the manner in which Pan Am was involved. For instance, Pan Am transported Vietnam Vets to and from their R&Rs in Hong Kong, and also airlifted children out of the country. Pan Am also was on the ground during coups, major conflicts, and other historical events. It was amazing to read about the experiences of these women, and to remember the places that I also traveled to and loved. Most interesting and meaningful to me was that Tori, my primary flight attendant instructor in my initial training in Honolulu, is one of the women whose lives are chronicled in this book. I had not expected that. If you are interested in learning more about the history of aviation juxtaposed with historical events over the past 50 years as well as the manner in which the career of flight attendants evolved in its initial years, then I highly recommend this book.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Scott (on temporary hiatus)

    "Stewardesses were always one step ahead, anticipating movements, making them happen, creating a force felt on the ground below." -- page 216 Harkening back to the days - meaning between 1966 and 1975 - when U.S. stewardesses (as they were not yet referred to as 'flight attendants,' and it was then-unthinkable that males would work in such an assignment) had to adhere to certain job requirements (such as strict height and weight limits, single marital status, and a college degree), Cooke's Come F "Stewardesses were always one step ahead, anticipating movements, making them happen, creating a force felt on the ground below." -- page 216 Harkening back to the days - meaning between 1966 and 1975 - when U.S. stewardesses (as they were not yet referred to as 'flight attendants,' and it was then-unthinkable that males would work in such an assignment) had to adhere to certain job requirements (such as strict height and weight limits, single marital status, and a college degree), Cooke's Come Fly the World tells the abbreviated career stories of five women in that industry. Far from being an updated version of Coffee, Tea, or Me? (which is mentioned a handful of times in the text, and NOT in a flattering way), the book presents these women as a dedicated, hard-working group that took pride in their multifaceted job. At the time Pan-Am was one of the few truly 'global' airlines, flying to 100+ locales on six continents via hubs like New York City and Los Angeles. The book's featured stewardesses were uniformly an intelligent and curious group, usually from small or quiet hometowns, and they saw international air travel as an exciting opportunity to see foreign lands, experience new cultures, and meet different people. And, in those waning days before affordable flights became mainstream, or even the much later debut of the Internet, the position actually was a chance of a lifetime to see the world on the company's dime, so to speak. Thankfully, the narrative is not one lecherous and tipsy businessman after another harassing these ladies, as that would grow tiresome very quickly. (Although I'm sure it did happen to them on occasion, unfortunately.) The powerfully happy or sad moments in Come Fly the World are when the stewardesses were serving on routes, under a special arrangement by Pan-Am and the U.S. military, to ferry the young and often-drafted servicemen to and from the Vietnam War during the especially worst years of the conflict. And just when it seems like the book is getting sort of directionless three of these women voluntarily serve on a special mission flight that was an unforgettable and unique assignment, which resulted in the saving of hundreds of young lives.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    3.5 When I was a young girl, my friend had an older sister who was a stewardess. She kept a room in her family home that she returned to sporadically. I remember loving her outfit and all the stories she told us about her travels. That was it! When I grew up I wanted to fly. Life of course, had other plans. We follow the flying lives of four girls who wanted the same. As did many others, but standards were high and one needed to meet certain height, weight, age and language requirements. Still ma 3.5 When I was a young girl, my friend had an older sister who was a stewardess. She kept a room in her family home that she returned to sporadically. I remember loving her outfit and all the stories she told us about her travels. That was it! When I grew up I wanted to fly. Life of course, had other plans. We follow the flying lives of four girls who wanted the same. As did many others, but standards were high and one needed to meet certain height, weight, age and language requirements. Still many applied, wanting a life that included excitement and travel. Their lives though we're not all glamour though and sometimes outright dangerous. Pan Am for years had a contract with the government to fly and return young soldiers to and from Vietnam. African countries were the of danger because of constant could and in Moscow, at the height of the cold war, the women were often followed by spies for the government. There is also the changing faces, and rising needs of women. They wanted more than the airlines wanted to give. Not having to leave when one married, promotions that only men received, being able to return after having a child and a change of image. This book actually covered quite a bit. Never realized as my mom always worked how narrow women's roles were defined in the sixties. I'm glad I wasn't adulting at that time.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Dennis

    Stewardess Wanted. Must Want the World. This book not only takes an interesting look at the lives and lifestyles of Pan Am stewardesses in the 60s and 70s but also at the world at large during that time. The Vietnam War and the fight for equal female rights are most prominently covered. And, perhaps a little surprisingly, the three stewardesses through whose eyes we mainly see this story unfold had been largely involved in both. The author, over the span of five years, has conducted several inte Stewardess Wanted. Must Want the World. This book not only takes an interesting look at the lives and lifestyles of Pan Am stewardesses in the 60s and 70s but also at the world at large during that time. The Vietnam War and the fight for equal female rights are most prominently covered. And, perhaps a little surprisingly, the three stewardesses through whose eyes we mainly see this story unfold had been largely involved in both. The author, over the span of five years, has conducted several interviews with five Pan Am stewardesses and we get an account of their time working at the company. However, three of them get a lot more coverage than the remaining two and the book almost reads like a biography of Lynne Rawling, Karen Walker and Tori Werner at times. Almost. Cooke chose to tell the history of Pan American World Airways mostly through their stories. Through the stories of three women that wanted to see the world and experience a feeling of independence that was not available to many women at the time. A time when acceptably feminine roles where pretty much limited to nurse, teacher, librarian, secretary. On the one hand airlines offered them the chance to live a life that was not available to other women, but the flipside of course were the questionable hiring policies. ”Attractive appearance will be foremost in importance,” read a 1963 American Airlines supervisor handbook, the sentence underlined for emphasis and elaborated on in excruciating detail: “We can sometimes pretend a person is attractive, if we admire them for some other reason. [Hiring such people] should be avoided.” And don’t get me started on regular weigh-ins and the fact that these women actually had to quit their jobs if they got married or reached the age of 32 or 35 (depending on the airline). But these were confident and educated women (10 percent of Pan Am stewardesses had attended graduate school at a time when only 6 to 8 percent of American women had graduated from college). The public image of stewardesses (created in no small part by the advertising campaigns of the airlines) might have been one of glorified Playboy Bunnies, but they were anything but. And change was about to come. Although it needed hard work to make it happen. And change was needed in more ways than one. Delta put on a comprehensive defense in one of the first suits, filed by a stewardess who was terminated when her marriage was discovered. In another suit, United submitted an eighty-page brief detailing the reasons why only young, attractive women could address the “legitimate” business of meeting the social and psychological needs of its passengers: “Men can carry trays, and hang up coats and assist in the rare event of an emergency — they cannot convey the charm, the tact, the grace, the liveliness that young girls can — particularly to men, who comprise the vast majority of airline passengers … [men cannot] add to the pleasure of the trip, the loveliness of the environment or the ego of the male passenger.” However, even though it touches on it, this book is not about the discrimination of men in the profession of flight attendant. It is (amongst other things) about the discrimination of women in nearly all walks of life and how the women of Pan Am also stood for that change that was about to come. And of course the job of a stewardess was about far more than carrying trays and hanging up coats. It was a life of responsibility and excitement. And also danger, as is shown by several chapters about the Vietnam War and the conditions under which Pan Am flew soldiers in and out of warzones. The developments around the war are as extensively covered here as is the battle for equal female rights and those two themes are perhaps even more prominent in this book than the development of the airline industry and of Pan Am in particular. Sometimes it feels like Cooke couldn’t quite make up her mind about what she wanted to write exactly. All the themes she covers are interesting, but she’s jumping around a lot, sometimes making it hard for the reader to keep up. I also wish she had given a little more room to the one Black stewardess among the five women she is telling us about. Her chapters were interesting and sometimes infuriating: Airline executives openly admitted that they feared losing their market share if the women who served mostly white passengers were Black. They were also concerned, as one New York Times article explained, that “existing and potential ranks of white stewardesses would dwindle fast if the ‘glamor’ of the job were ‘down-graded’ by the employment of Negro girls.” … There are still some battles to be fought. The thing this book does best is to show how these women, regardless of the color of their skin, were striving for something greater, for a life of more opportunities, for excitement and adventure. It made me long to get onto an airplane and visit other countries again. But it also made me better understand what challenges these women were facing. A very few of the stewardesses, especially those who crewed the more dramatic and dangerous flights, self-identify as veterans of war. Relatively few place their work in historical context or speak openly with civilians about the job’s more difficult moments. It is too much effort to address the disconnect between the perception of the job as all glamour and access amid optimistic globalism of the 1960s and its actual context, which also entailed objectification and misunderstanding, war and danger — the dark side of that globalist vision. 3.5 stars Overall this is a surprisingly deep and educational book that is a little rough around the edges, which is likely down to it being a review copy that was still under review by the author and publisher. Therefore, I'm giving it the benefit of the doubt and round up. The content is certainly worthy of a four-star rating. I hope the final product will also include some pictures. My review copy didn’t. If you bought this one, let me know. Thanks to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for providing me with a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own and in no way influenced by the aforementioned.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Patricia

    I found the cover of this book misleading in what was between the covers. I thought it was going to be a light, gossipy read. A Coffee, Tea, or Me kind of book. Boy, was I wrong. This is a fascinating dissertation of the real lives of Pan Am stewardesses in a time that was very different for women. I lived during those times so I knew them well. I couldnt get enough of this book. The Vietnam stories were hard to read because I remember those years so vividly. The stewardess played a big part in o I found the cover of this book misleading in what was between the covers. I thought it was going to be a light, gossipy read. A Coffee, Tea, or Me kind of book. Boy, was I wrong. This is a fascinating dissertation of the real lives of Pan Am stewardesses in a time that was very different for women. I lived during those times so I knew them well. I couldnt get enough of this book. The Vietnam stories were hard to read because I remember those years so vividly. The stewardess played a big part in our soldiers lives both going but especially their coming back. I really recommend this book. It is truly fascinating.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Darla

    Focusing on the Pan Am Airline, Julia Cooke takes a deep dive into the back stories, dreams, and experiences of a handful of their flight attendants. All were hired just before or early in the Vietnam era and the rise of the iconic 747. I loved reading their stories and the ways they dealt with discrimination while also doing their jobs well. The three most heavily covered were also a part of the Vietnam flights for soldiers and the Babylift project. Seeing that time from their perspective is a Focusing on the Pan Am Airline, Julia Cooke takes a deep dive into the back stories, dreams, and experiences of a handful of their flight attendants. All were hired just before or early in the Vietnam era and the rise of the iconic 747. I loved reading their stories and the ways they dealt with discrimination while also doing their jobs well. The three most heavily covered were also a part of the Vietnam flights for soldiers and the Babylift project. Seeing that time from their perspective is a reminder that there is so rarely a single solution to the problems of the world. As we continue to connect globally, we share more than just a plane ride. It was a treat to see the world with these women and view the 60's and 70's through their eyes. The story of the African American stewardess (Hazel Bowie) and her Moscow flights was a revelation. Loved this cover, but wished there were some photos in the book. I had a roommate who was a flight attendant for Braniff in the late 80's. In fact she was working for them when they went bankrupt and she no longer had a job. I have not logged as many flight miles as she did, but another memorable airline story is being booked for a return flight from Chicago on Midway Airlines when they stopped operations. My husband and I were given first class seats on another airline to get us back home -- my one and only first class experience. If you are fascinated by the ways women assisted in Vietnam, I also recommend to you 'Vietnam Nurse: Mending and Remembering' by Lou Eisenbrandt. Thank you to Houghton Mifflin and Edelweiss+ for a DRC in exchange for an honest review.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sandra "Jeanz"

    I love the cover! It has a really glam, yet retro look to it. It brings to mind all the great things you associate with air hostesses. This cover certainly attracts your eye to it and encouraged me to think that the book would be from the point of view or at least solely about air hostesses. The book does follow a few women, Karen, Lynne and Tori being the ones that stay in my mind. All these women have to fit/fill certain expectations such as weight and looks which would most likely be frowned u I love the cover! It has a really glam, yet retro look to it. It brings to mind all the great things you associate with air hostesses. This cover certainly attracts your eye to it and encouraged me to think that the book would be from the point of view or at least solely about air hostesses. The book does follow a few women, Karen, Lynne and Tori being the ones that stay in my mind. All these women have to fit/fill certain expectations such as weight and looks which would most likely be frowned upon, in the era we live in now. The uniforms, rules and expectations varied slightly depending on which Airline the women worked for. Though this book is centred more on the Pan Am Air Hostesses it does reference other airlines too. Pan Am ran “grooming classes” which one of the ladies featured in this book called Karen wrote home about to her mum saying the course would cost £500!! Karen also revealed to her mum in the same letter that she had never known that blue eyeshadow de-emphasized her blue eyes — she should choose a greenish hue — or that a hint of a bright white below the eyebrows would highlight the arch. One of the grooming supervisor’s had reshaped her eyebrows, and they now looked so much better. In 1969 the spring trainees were the very first ones to be allowed to keep their hair long but it was on the condition they should keep it clipped neatly at the nape of their neck. This new freedom didn’t bother Karen as she had her hair cut into a bob, the same style she has worn it in during her time working for the US Army. The women were also given four pages of “packing tips” which contained gems like building a core wardrobe in drip dry fabrics as they are easier to manage and do not need a lot of extra work ironing. The tips also contained a note on wearing comfortable shoes! The Pan Am Stewardess manual gave advice on things like lip shape, lipstick/make-up application, correct posture, skin care, and haircuts. It says in the book that these grooming lessons took nearly as much time as the first aid training! For makeup, a natural look with red, rose red or coral for lips and nails. Pan Am wanted their hostesses to look pretty, feminine and sophisticated. They employed people to ensure the stewardesses were meeting their specific guideline. If a stewardess wanted to change her hair, she needed to have permission from the airline. Stewardesses were expected to have clear skin, be between 5’3 and 5’9, and be willing to follow the rules. The stewardess skirt had to be exactly one inch below the knee, so it doesn’t raise and be too revealing when the stewardesses were reaching over head lockers and doing their jobs on the plane. The book also covered difficult journeys the Air Stewardesses had to cope with such as transporting young men from America over to fight the Vietnam war. Also, the evacuation effort made and how integral the Air Stewardess’ willingness and professionalism to come up with solutions as quickly and efficiently as possible. The conditions these air hostesses had to cope with in the air whilst helping ill, scared children was awful. I should imagine if this occurred in the present day the Air Stewardesses would be treat for a form of PTSD. Not in those days though they were expected to pick themselves up, put a fresh smile on their face and continue on. The book also covers some Airline history and also the many lawsuits for women’s rights, for job progression etc, and men’s rights to become Air Stewards, sexism, racism etc. Some of the articles covered were ones that I honestly wouldn’t of necessarily thought of. I guess in the present day we take a lot for granted, as being our rights to have/do. I’ll totally admit I really enjoyed all the Air Stewardess grooming and training details, it would have been great to have some photographs or illustrations too. I even found the military filled flights fascinating to read about, and the evacuation of orphans though harrowing it was something I wouldn’t necessarily of thought of the Air Stewardesses having to do. Some of the Airline history in places felt a tad long winded and I could feel myself losing interest, but luckily the different chapters are kind of mixed up a little with the more serious history, regulations interspersed with anecdotes from actual Air Stewardesses. My immediate thoughts upon finishing the book were quite mixed, though I found parts of the book really interesting others seemed to drag on in minute detail on things I didn’t find particularly noteworthy. To sum up I really enjoyed some parts of the book yet felt some parts were somewhat drawn out in my opinion. It wasn’t exactly what I was expecting . . . but it was still an okay, fairly interesting read.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    eBook Giveaway Win!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Elle

    This might be the most boring book I have ever read. The subject in itself isn't very naturally interesting, so it's up to the author to make it so for the reader, and she just plain failed. The author kept steering away from the actual subject of the book to talk about random topics, and I get the feeling that it's because she was unable to actually find enough information to fill a real book (and even with all the erroneous tangents it's a short book). This might be the most boring book I have ever read. The subject in itself isn't very naturally interesting, so it's up to the author to make it so for the reader, and she just plain failed. The author kept steering away from the actual subject of the book to talk about random topics, and I get the feeling that it's because she was unable to actually find enough information to fill a real book (and even with all the erroneous tangents it's a short book).

  10. 4 out of 5

    lori light

    ***thank you to NetGalley for the advanced copy of this book*** Wow! I was drawn to this book because of the cover and the title. I'm a 15-year flight attendant and have always loved to read stories of the days when the job was glamorous. I thought it would be a fun read for these horrible times, especially with all the mask policing I'm doing at work these days. I had absolutely no idea what I was in for with this book. I am floored by how much education I've gained from this book. I had no idea ***thank you to NetGalley for the advanced copy of this book*** Wow! I was drawn to this book because of the cover and the title. I'm a 15-year flight attendant and have always loved to read stories of the days when the job was glamorous. I thought it would be a fun read for these horrible times, especially with all the mask policing I'm doing at work these days. I had absolutely no idea what I was in for with this book. I am floored by how much education I've gained from this book. I had no idea how instrumental Pan Am was in the Vietnam war and what these women went through when they put on their uniforms and went to work. From RR flights carrying soldiers out of warzones to tropical islands in the South Pacific to Operation Babylift flights at the end of the war, these incredible women were doing what they knew how to do best, put on a brave face and smile through it all. I loved the way the author told these heroic stories and painted their pictures as women fighting for a place in the world while they're also navigating war on foreign land, as well as the fight for female equality in the US. I have so much respect for the lives that these women lived and the way they carried themselves through their experiences. My experiences as a flight attendant for a domestic, low-budget carrier are nothing like the experiences of these stewardesses of the jet age, but there is a thread of commonality in their love of their job and the lifestyle that it provided that made my heart swell. It reminded me of what has made me stick around for so long, which if I'm completely honest, has been difficult to remember as of late. Here are a few quotes that stood out: She wanted to know about people - how they lived, who they were, something beyond what a taxi driver with passable English could tell her. Passengers offered Lynne the best shot at constructing a scaffolding of knowledge around which her experiences on the ground could grow. Every plane was a vessel filled with people and their stories. Lynne taught them everything she knows about travel: how to move as a woman through the world with curiosity and confidence and deference for local perspectives and customers and how, whether she is near or far from home, that stance erases fear. "My mother," her elder girl says, "has no fear of the other." Loved it!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jeanette

    Honestly, I never read any reviews until after reading the book (and studying the photos too). So I have been absolutely flummoxed by the majority of the high ratings. Having lived through this period and having VERY good (1 best friend) become stewardesses, I don't see this as others. For sure. The book consistently loses its focus as it goes into 100 other tangents to Pan Am and the industry. And the times, and the war (Vietnam) and the baby rescuing operations etc. etc. etc. It IS the title in Honestly, I never read any reviews until after reading the book (and studying the photos too). So I have been absolutely flummoxed by the majority of the high ratings. Having lived through this period and having VERY good (1 best friend) become stewardesses, I don't see this as others. For sure. The book consistently loses its focus as it goes into 100 other tangents to Pan Am and the industry. And the times, and the war (Vietnam) and the baby rescuing operations etc. etc. etc. It IS the title in one sense but whose story. At 4 or 5 individuals? Not necessarily average either. I knew many stewardesses and none of them had any college degrees and VERY few had 1 semester. Regardless, this gives a picture that is atypical, IMHO. And also holds dozens of the positives with quite few of the negatives. Health being #1. It was not a lifestyle that engendered health. Every one I knew was used up, got sick- or was thrown away for age or weight or some other hierarchy squabble. It covers somewhat of the struggle to change "the rules" but not much to the extent of how the women were used to depletion. Every one I heard the tale from 1st hand left the services worse off than when they started. While in business during this exact time, much less frou-frou of "dynamic" looks measures were so specified. Being fully adult through the last half of the '60's- I fully remember who earned, rose or established in careers and who didn't. Paid ones and unpaid ones, at that. The pictures were posed for the most part, IMHO. The women of today of that same age group would not at all be subjected to the rigid indignities of norm. The trailer says Mad Men??? Believe me Joanie had it ALL OVER these women. She actually got to use her intelligence as much as her looks. A much more even and organized novel could have been done. Hodgepodge at the most. 2.5 stars and never rounded up for the level of "user" connotated here. Or realistically how one sided the user feature worked out. It was much worse to psyches and health than this book implies.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jan

    Disjointed and hard to follow. Leaps from one stweardess to the next and one setting to the next and the back again. Moves from business to politics to personal with no cohesiveness. Really frustrating. I couldn't finish though I thought the subject matter was worthy. Disjointed and hard to follow. Leaps from one stweardess to the next and one setting to the next and the back again. Moves from business to politics to personal with no cohesiveness. Really frustrating. I couldn't finish though I thought the subject matter was worthy.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Amy Lively

    What a pleasant surprise this book was! If you think you know all there is to know about the U.S. in the 50s and 60s, especially regarding its involvement in Vietnam, read this book ASAP. I was not expecting a book about flight attendants to be set against the backdrop of one of the most tumultuous times in US history but after reading it, I can see now how it is impossible to separate the two. This book is not only readable and does not require readers to slog through walls of words in the way What a pleasant surprise this book was! If you think you know all there is to know about the U.S. in the 50s and 60s, especially regarding its involvement in Vietnam, read this book ASAP. I was not expecting a book about flight attendants to be set against the backdrop of one of the most tumultuous times in US history but after reading it, I can see now how it is impossible to separate the two. This book is not only readable and does not require readers to slog through walls of words in the way that more "academic" texts do, it is a vital look at how Pan Am offered women a path to independence and how the women of Pan Am had active roles in important historical events. Yes, Pan Am, like all airlines, held women to ridiculously sexist -- and now illegal -- standards regarding weight, age, looks, and marital standards. That is really only a small part of the history of the flight attendants, though. These were women who wanted a different sort of life. They did not want to follow the prescribed path of looking good in a skirt in their office job until they got married and had children. Even if their families did not understand their choices, these women made those choices, anyway. They not only saw the world, they were part of it.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Mary Simses

    I remember the first time I flew on an airplane. It was back when people dressed up for air travel. It was elegant, an occasion in and of itself. Those were the days. Those were also the days when all flight attendants were women—attractive women—and the airlines had strict regulations about looks, height, weight, marital status, etc. The women were called stewardesses and they held highly coveted jobs. This book is about the history of stewardesses, starting from the beginning of commercial air I remember the first time I flew on an airplane. It was back when people dressed up for air travel. It was elegant, an occasion in and of itself. Those were the days. Those were also the days when all flight attendants were women—attractive women—and the airlines had strict regulations about looks, height, weight, marital status, etc. The women were called stewardesses and they held highly coveted jobs. This book is about the history of stewardesses, starting from the beginning of commercial air travel in the 1950s. But more than that, it’s about how women pushed to change the airline workplace, get rid of unfair rules, and open up opportunities for themselves and others. And it’s all set against a backdrop of the events of the time, including the Vietnam War. This should be required reading for every young woman going into her first job. It’s an eye opener to see how far women have come in terms of rights in the workplace. Yes, there is always room for improvement, but this puts many things in perspective. Younger women will probably find a lot of this hard to believe. The book is well written, engaging, and well worth reading.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Shannon Rochester

    Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for my digital copy in exchange for an honest review. I requested this book because as I was growing up, I really really wanted to be a flight attendant. At the time, there was a height requirement and I was too short...but I thought it would be the coolest thing to get to travel all of the time and actually get paid for it. Then I briefly watched the Pan Am show when it came out and I learned alot by watching that show...I had no idea of any of the histo Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for my digital copy in exchange for an honest review. I requested this book because as I was growing up, I really really wanted to be a flight attendant. At the time, there was a height requirement and I was too short...but I thought it would be the coolest thing to get to travel all of the time and actually get paid for it. Then I briefly watched the Pan Am show when it came out and I learned alot by watching that show...I had no idea of any of the history that was connected with some of the girls. Anyway, I was never quite able to get into the book as much as I would have liked. There were just too many times where it read like a textbook and when I am reading something for fun, I do not want too much information thrown at me at once...hence the textbook comment. It felt too much like homework sometimes, which I left behind a long time ago. When I WAS able to get into what was happening and stay there, I enjoyed myself but it didn't happen too often. :)

  16. 4 out of 5

    Aimee

    Yay! Pregnancy brain has FINALLY finished a book! 3.5 stars. I didn’t realize working as a stewardess could be so political! I really enjoyed all the information about how this role became involved with Vietnam activism and the feminist movement. I also liked how it followed three separate women to show how they would eventually meet and come together in the end. Wish there was more! There were several people who were briefly mention that I would have loved to hear more of their stories - like H Yay! Pregnancy brain has FINALLY finished a book! 3.5 stars. I didn’t realize working as a stewardess could be so political! I really enjoyed all the information about how this role became involved with Vietnam activism and the feminist movement. I also liked how it followed three separate women to show how they would eventually meet and come together in the end. Wish there was more! There were several people who were briefly mention that I would have loved to hear more of their stories - like Hazel Bowie. The book briefly touched on race issues at the time and in the industry, but I felt like there was more to tell. Expanding on Hazel’s story could have helped with that.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Frosty61

    This one offers an in depth look at the life of airline stewardesses in the golden age of travel. Throw away your pre-conceived notions of dumb women hired only for their physical appearance. The author offers insight into the interviewing and training process, the amazing world of travel back in the days of glamor and excitement (before passengers were packed in like sardines while fighting for leg room, hoping for a stale pretzel snack). She recounts the first-hand experiences of several Pan A This one offers an in depth look at the life of airline stewardesses in the golden age of travel. Throw away your pre-conceived notions of dumb women hired only for their physical appearance. The author offers insight into the interviewing and training process, the amazing world of travel back in the days of glamor and excitement (before passengers were packed in like sardines while fighting for leg room, hoping for a stale pretzel snack). She recounts the first-hand experiences of several Pan Am stewardesses, but we don't get a lot of emotion - it comes off a little flat. The good, bad, and ugly is all included, with an especially harrowing account of the heartbreaking Orphan Flights out of South Vietnam. Unfortunately, the disjointedness of the story spoiled it a bit for me. It jumps around in time - sometimes within the same paragraph - which made it hard to follow. Still, it was interesting, especially to someone who thought she might want to be a stewardess when she grew up. ;-)

  18. 4 out of 5

    William Harris

    I just finished reading a delightful book entitled "Come Fly the World: The Jet Age Story of the Women of Pan Am," by Julia Cooke. I wish to extend my gratitude to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for making an electronic ARC available to me for review. Many of you are aware that there has been a great deal of interest in Pan American Airlines per se as well as the women who made careers as stewardesses during the 50's, 60' and 70's. Perspectives and narrative approaches have varied widely, and I have I just finished reading a delightful book entitled "Come Fly the World: The Jet Age Story of the Women of Pan Am," by Julia Cooke. I wish to extend my gratitude to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for making an electronic ARC available to me for review. Many of you are aware that there has been a great deal of interest in Pan American Airlines per se as well as the women who made careers as stewardesses during the 50's, 60' and 70's. Perspectives and narrative approaches have varied widely, and I have read a number of these. None were more fascinating and nuanced than this text. Looking at Pan Am's role in the lives of the young women who served as stewardesses (flight attendants in modern parlance) through the eyes and experiences of a number of the women who actually served in Pan Am at that time and with a sensitivity to the cultural context of those transformatory decades following World War II and ending with the trauma of the fall of Saigon makes for an interesting book indeed. Without overlooking Pan Am's obvious sexism and biases in hiring policies and terms of employment, the author, carefully situating this within the cultural norms of the time, focuses on the transformations that international travel with relatively competitive salary structures afforded to those adventurous souls who were fortunate enough to take advantage of what was on offer. Travel, money, access to a lifestyle largely denied to young women of their time, all of these things characterized Pan Am for these young women. At the same time, many of them found it to be, in the lexicon of the time, a consciousness raising exercise through their encounters with the beginnings of international terrorism and the omnipresent Vietnam War. I was, literally and unexpectedly, reduced to tears as the role of the young women in assisting in evacuating orphans and other refugees from the South Vietnamese collapse and the precipitate withdrawal of U.S. officials and dependents played out before me, the tragedy of it all heightened by the sensitivities of the young women who bore witness. I enjoyed this book enormously, not least for its nuanced and balanced presentation of a group of young women who, despite the way they and their employer are frequently caricatured in popular literature, were in many ways, at the forefront of what we now call the Women's Liberation Movement. They deserve acknowledgment from those who followed down the well worn paths they first trod.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Cliona Coleman

    Thoroughly enjoyed and would recommend to anyone who loves travelling/the aviation industry. Some welcomed escapism during the current times. The author did a great job of telling the history behind this era and the inspiring stories of these incredible, trailblazing women. Really enjoyed the feminist aspects and learned a lot!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Emily Joy

    Whoever designed the cover for this book deserves an award, but with a caveat. I love this cover, and I think it conveys the popular ideals of mid-century airline stewardesses perfectly which captures anyone's attention, and especially people like me who are very interested in Jet Age cabin crew. Unfortunately, I think it's a bit misleading. This book is certainly about Pan Am stewardesses, but it highlights them against tumultuous global events, Vietnam in particular. I would have been equally Whoever designed the cover for this book deserves an award, but with a caveat. I love this cover, and I think it conveys the popular ideals of mid-century airline stewardesses perfectly which captures anyone's attention, and especially people like me who are very interested in Jet Age cabin crew. Unfortunately, I think it's a bit misleading. This book is certainly about Pan Am stewardesses, but it highlights them against tumultuous global events, Vietnam in particular. I would have been equally interested in this book if the marketing had made that distinction a bit more clear, but since I had expected the book to be more exclusively about glamorous, globe-trotting, independent women (which it still was!) I wasn't quite prepared for the amount of war history discussed. I think the subtitle used on the UK edition of this book is a bit more clear: "The Women of Pan Am at War and Peace". I loved this book. It was fascinating and easy to read. I think it would have been a five star rating if the marketing had been clearer and I knew what to expect!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Anjali

    This history of Pan Am and its stewardesses was a mixed bag. At times it was fascinating, and then I'd hit a chapter that really dragged. This is not a light, gossipy read if that's what you're looking for; the book spends a large amount of time on the Vietnam War and the flights in and out of Saigon, including the massive Operation Babylift that evacuated some 2,000 children during the fall of Saigon. Come Fly the World focuses on three women in particular, Karen, Lynne, and Tori, and I really This history of Pan Am and its stewardesses was a mixed bag. At times it was fascinating, and then I'd hit a chapter that really dragged. This is not a light, gossipy read if that's what you're looking for; the book spends a large amount of time on the Vietnam War and the flights in and out of Saigon, including the massive Operation Babylift that evacuated some 2,000 children during the fall of Saigon. Come Fly the World focuses on three women in particular, Karen, Lynne, and Tori, and I really enjoyed their stories, but sometimes it was hard to keep details straight as the narrative jumped around. Biggest takeaway: the women who crewed Pan Am's jets were educated, confident women to be admired and respected. 3.5 stars.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kathryn

    At 3% in I realized that this story was going to be fast. It took me a minute to believe it was a memoir/nonfiction read though, it reads like a "based on a true story" read. That is not bad, and I'll give it a high 3.5 stars for the story, but it gets rounded down to a 3 because of the pacing. It's a tad slow for my liking, but nonetheless, a good story. I really enjoy historical reads, I think more so now that stories are starting to happen closer to my *gasp* birth year. If you liked Mad Men At 3% in I realized that this story was going to be fast. It took me a minute to believe it was a memoir/nonfiction read though, it reads like a "based on a true story" read. That is not bad, and I'll give it a high 3.5 stars for the story, but it gets rounded down to a 3 because of the pacing. It's a tad slow for my liking, but nonetheless, a good story. I really enjoy historical reads, I think more so now that stories are starting to happen closer to my *gasp* birth year. If you liked Mad Men you might like this inside story of the Stewardesses of Pan Am. "This invitation to try out an unfettered version of oneself somewhere else had appealed to enormous numbers of women from the start of the commercial airline industry."

  23. 5 out of 5

    Bookreporter.com Biography & Memoir

    I was all of four-and-a-half years old when I experienced my first airplane trip. And what a trip it was --- flying the iconic North Atlantic Circle route that cut a transcontinental arc between Canada and Europe. I was traveling with my birth father back to his home in southern England, and it took three different turbo-prop aircraft with picturesque names like Electra, Constellation and Stratocruiser to do it; Toronto to Gander, Gander to Prestwick, Prestwick to Heathrow. Truth to tell, I reme I was all of four-and-a-half years old when I experienced my first airplane trip. And what a trip it was --- flying the iconic North Atlantic Circle route that cut a transcontinental arc between Canada and Europe. I was traveling with my birth father back to his home in southern England, and it took three different turbo-prop aircraft with picturesque names like Electra, Constellation and Stratocruiser to do it; Toronto to Gander, Gander to Prestwick, Prestwick to Heathrow. Truth to tell, I remember more details about the flights there and back than about a very pleasant stay with my English grandparents while dad, a British Overseas Airways agent, took a company course. After reading Julia Cooke's COME FLY THE WORLD, it dawned on me that I recall so much today, more than six decades later, because a patient, caring and efficient succession of uniformed women called "stewardesses" made the experience so memorable. As Cooke, also from a travel-business family (her father is a former Pan Am executive), so vividly recounts in her book, there was much more going on behind the aura of glamour and excitement that thrilled me as a child and continued to impress me as an adult on later air trips. I didn't know that the lovely professional lady who calmed my fears during a turbulent thunderstorm over the mid-Atlantic had to meet rigorous standards of appearance, weight, coiffure, social status, race, age, behavior and so on. Pan Am stewardesses --- the historical and cultural focus of COME FLY THE WORLD --- were as restricted and supervised back then as those of any major international air carrier. But that was just part of the package, as Cooke points out in myriad contexts. And until the end of the 20th century, being a stewardess, or a flight attendant in today's more generic usage, was still a dream job for numerous young women. As world economies, politics, social trends, technologies and transportation options changed over the decades, airlines and the equipment and personnel they relied on changed as well, although sometimes not rapidly enough. Aircraft got bigger and faster, flight crews had less time to interact with passengers, fewer and fewer "extras" made flights less personal despite increased safety factors. Many smaller airlines disappeared or were assimilated into bigger travel empires. And even iconic pillars of the industry like Pan Am itself would eventually fail before the turn of the 21st century. All of this evolution, and more, is seen not only through Cooke's diligent and meticulous factual research, but also through the unique perspective of a number of real-life stewardesses who candidly and generously shared their career memories with her. Some recalled harrowing hijackings, wartime evacuations, bad landings, racial and sexual discrimination in the air and on the ground. Others remembered for decades having to reluctantly leave their airborne working world too early due to once-forbidden marriage and motherhood. There is certainly abundant nostalgia throughout COME FLY THE WORLD, but it's tempered with a thoughtful reality and no small measure of optimism for a profession that has slowly but inexorably transitioned into a more inclusive and flexible environment. On more recent flights, I've enjoyed the positive and enjoyable presence of flight attendants who look more like me, and nothing like me --- people whose ages, bodies, ethnicities, genders and personalities speak of wholesome diversity. Today there seems to be fewer of them, serving more and more travelers, wedged into smaller and smaller seats. But they are still doing the kind of magic in the air that inspired Cooke to document their stories so powerfully. There's nothing ephemeral or "airy" about COME FLY THE WORLD, even though it reads with the colour and verve of a good novel. Julia Cooke has given her readers a bona fide social history of a profession that's been misunderstood and trivialized for far too long. Reviewed by Pauline Finch

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    I am all kinds of obsessed with this book! I haven’t swallowed a book whole in a day or two like that in a long time. I cannot get enough of these fascinating stories of women in the 1950s-1970s flying around the world, going to places far flung and out of the norm for women of that era. If you like your wanderlust with a sense of breaking tradition and not subscribing the the societal norms that America lays out for women, this is the book for you. It follows a multitude of stewardesses through I am all kinds of obsessed with this book! I haven’t swallowed a book whole in a day or two like that in a long time. I cannot get enough of these fascinating stories of women in the 1950s-1970s flying around the world, going to places far flung and out of the norm for women of that era. If you like your wanderlust with a sense of breaking tradition and not subscribing the the societal norms that America lays out for women, this is the book for you. It follows a multitude of stewardesses throughout their time working for Pan Am and is soaked through with the history of the jet-set era: Cold War, Vietnam, Civil Rights, plus it’s interlaced with wild stories of the adventures these women got to have in places like Hong Kong, Accra, Guam, India, — basically the whole world. Cooke also showed how stewardesses were at the forefront of the feminist movement as they demanded things like not having to resign when they got married, being allowed to work past the age of 30, being able to enter managerial positions within the airline, and not being laid off for weight gain. If you’re expecting a tight narrative focus on just one or two women, it’s not really that because it jumps around to paint a broad but detailed picture you won’t want to stop looking at. My favorite chapters focused on Hazel (one of the few Black stewardesses) and her growing love for Moscow during her layovers there during the Cold War—trips to the Bolshoi, standing in line with Russian women for lipstick, Hazel discovering that Pushkin was of African descent, it’s all here and it’s amazing. The breathless refugee flights toward the end of the book in and out of Saigon before it fell had me spellbound and Cooke did an amazing job showing these women at work (literally dodging bullets while pulling people running on the tarmac up and onto taxiing planes) while handling the wrongness of the Vietnam War. At its heart is a celebration of travelers, not vacationers. Those who “take a genuine interest in people, in other cultures, in thinking outside their own circumstances.” I love this line in Cooke’s acknowledgements and it sums out how I felt after reading her novel, especially as someone who has directly benefited from the efforts of women in tourism and hospitality before me: “The space that stewardesses in habited and the comfort they earned in motion allowed me, today, to take my own satisfaction from travel, and for that I am grateful.”

  25. 5 out of 5

    Bagus

    Olga Tokarczuk writes in her most celebrated novel Flights: “Fluidity, mobility, illusoriness-these are precisely the qualities that make us civilized. Barbarians don't travel. They simply go to destinations or conduct raids.” True to her message, many of us might not have realized how our daily lives are now shaped by the rise of the modern way of travelling: by plane. About a century ago, it was unthinkable how hyperconnected our world could be and how we could be in two vastly different place Olga Tokarczuk writes in her most celebrated novel Flights: “Fluidity, mobility, illusoriness-these are precisely the qualities that make us civilized. Barbarians don't travel. They simply go to destinations or conduct raids.” True to her message, many of us might not have realized how our daily lives are now shaped by the rise of the modern way of travelling: by plane. About a century ago, it was unthinkable how hyperconnected our world could be and how we could be in two vastly different places of the globe in only a matter of hours. In the funniest anecdote, the flight from Irkutsk to Moscow has a duration of 5 hours. It takes off at 8 am and arrives at exactly the same time in Moscow, at eight o’clock the same day since the time differences between the two cities are 5 hours. But the rise of international travel began with a single American airline: Pan Am Airways. The post-war United States gave stability to its citizens. Europe was just recovering from the atrocities of the Second World War, but the US was mostly unharmed with the war taking place in Europe. The disposable incomes gave people the chance to spend their money outside of the United States. The most preferred method was surely by flying. As an airline which focused on international routes, Pan Am could be said as arriving at the right time and the right place to the hyper-connectivity starting in the early 1960s with routes spanning from New York to Europe to Africa to Asia to Hawaii and finally back to Los Angeles. The different routes just took it westward from Los Angeles through similar hubs with the end in New York. As in every modern flight these days, the international flights operated by Pan Am were crewed by stewardesses, whose unique stories are being told in this book. Upon reading the word Pan Am, the first thing that comes to my mind was the story of how Frank W. Abagnale faked his way of being an impostor Pan Am pilot whose crime went unrecognized for several years. The film Catch Me If You Can, starred by DiCaprio in his prime, provides a wonderful depiction to an era that is both familiar and foreign to my generation. It is hardly thinkable in the present moment that someone could stay as an impostor as a pilot for several years, what with the compulsory security process required for flight crews. But in some other ways, it also gives us some scenes of what we have been missing since the rise of international travels. Julia Cooke, who happens to be the daughter of one of Pan Am formers executive provides us in this story partly history, partly journalism, and partly cultural analysis of the role of stewardesses in improving the state of international flights in the past few decades. The author presents us with a character like Lynne who has just earned her biology degree and was up for some challenges. There’s a whole world out there, she thought, and I need to get involved, was what she thought at that time. There are some other characters who got introduced such as Hazel Bowie who was the first African American stewardess who worked for Pan Am, or Tori who happened to be a Norwegian that ended up choosing to steward with Pan Am as a result of not fulfilling the requirement to join the Norwegian Foreign Service Academy at that time due to gender discrimination to foreign women. They faced similar epiphany, their job as stewardesses turned out to be liberating their status as women in the 1960s with the privileges that they received as flight crews such as discounted flight tickets for their families and countless hours of layovers in some most grandiose hotels around the globe. Yet their stories contain not only joyful memories, as the 1960s and the 1970s are the decades of the peak for American involvement in the war effort in Vietnam. I happened to be reading another book about the war in Vietnam around this time, and the efforts put by Pan Am and their crews during the war might be something unrecognized through these years with countless chartered flights to transport American troops and finally ended with Operation Babylift which transferred more than 2,000 Vietnamese orphans to the US for adoption. While this book is too focused on Pan Am and their roles in shaping post-war international aviation industry, it will surely be something of interest for people who travel a lot and those who could not travel due to the current pandemic situation which has been affecting us globally. === I received the electronic Advance Reader Copy from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kkraemer

    This is a social history of the 1960's/'70's, a time when the world was expanding and the opportunities for women were different from what they'd ever been before. PanAm was a huge international airline, and women who served as PanAm's flight attendants were able to handle managing nervous crowds, organizing evacuations, and traveling the world on their own, all things that, at the time, no one believed that the pretty little things could do. Popularly, flight attendants were often viewed as pret This is a social history of the 1960's/'70's, a time when the world was expanding and the opportunities for women were different from what they'd ever been before. PanAm was a huge international airline, and women who served as PanAm's flight attendants were able to handle managing nervous crowds, organizing evacuations, and traveling the world on their own, all things that, at the time, no one believed that the pretty little things could do. Popularly, flight attendants were often viewed as pretty little things...and many were, of course, but their understanding of authority and organization, along with their ability to handle themselves, by themselves, in cities around the world stand in stark contrast to the vision of femininity of the day...perhaps even the vision today. Through anecdotes, stories, and prodigious research, this book outlines the history of PanAm, which is to say the history of air travel and the history of its political associations with the American government; the history of women's rights during that time, which is to note the resistance to lifting things like age requirements, marriage requirements, and caps on promotion; and the history of multiple world events, including Vietnam, which is to note the transport of troops to and from, the political implications of the soldiers' service (and injury and death), and the airlift of thousands of children at the end of the war. This is an utterly amazing social history of a time and place so often reduced to a cipher rather than the rich and complicated components of America's emergence into the modern world.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    For those of you, like me who are fascinated by historical events, the evolution of the aviation industry, and specifically the seemingly glamorous days of flying on a Pan Am flight, this book is for you. I can cite several things that drew me into these topics - does anyone remember the Gwyneth Paltrow movie, View from the Top? Or what about that scene in Gilmore Girls where Lorelei gets the Pan Am stewardess bag? Are you obsessed with Mad Men? Or, in school, did you start in the Women of Locker For those of you, like me who are fascinated by historical events, the evolution of the aviation industry, and specifically the seemingly glamorous days of flying on a Pan Am flight, this book is for you. I can cite several things that drew me into these topics - does anyone remember the Gwyneth Paltrow movie, View from the Top? Or what about that scene in Gilmore Girls where Lorelei gets the Pan Am stewardess bag? Are you obsessed with Mad Men? Or, in school, did you start in the Women of Lockerbie play? These are the places my mind instantly went when I learned this book covered Pan Am stewardesses during the 60’s and 70’s and as a huge fan of history, I was drawn into learning about their role in major historical events (transporting soldiers from Vietnam to their R&R, evacuating children as a part of Operation Babylift). What’s more, is Cooke weaves together stories of real Pan Am stewardesses who were trailblazers, not taking the safe and traditional path of being a teacher or librarian, but living a glamorous and sometimes dangerous life, all while paving a new path that has contributed to women’s liberation movements, we reap the benefits of today. *huge thanks to @netgalley and @houghtonmifflinharcourt for providing me a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review*

  28. 5 out of 5

    Nidhi Shrivastava

    A beautiful non-fiction read about the air stewardess who were hired by Pan-Am in the heyday of the setting of the Mad Man era. Offered as a part-historical novel, non-fiction and memoir, Cooke shares the lives of Karen Walker, Tori Werner, Hazel Bowie, Lynne Totten. Not only do we encounter the brutal sexism, misogyny, and racism, these women faced, but we see their own heroism as they participated in the Operation Babylift during the Vietnam war in the 1960s. What I found fascinating was that A beautiful non-fiction read about the air stewardess who were hired by Pan-Am in the heyday of the setting of the Mad Man era. Offered as a part-historical novel, non-fiction and memoir, Cooke shares the lives of Karen Walker, Tori Werner, Hazel Bowie, Lynne Totten. Not only do we encounter the brutal sexism, misogyny, and racism, these women faced, but we see their own heroism as they participated in the Operation Babylift during the Vietnam war in the 1960s. What I found fascinating was that as I was reading this alongside Jha’s memoir that the different ways in which feminism is seen and co-opted within a group. Even for these women who were autonomous, financially independent, they were still viewed as oppressed by other feminists. It showed me that feminism as we see is a complex concept which will mean one thing from person’s positinality to another. In spite of all the independence that these women had proclaimed, they were still measured by traditional markers that make women “successful” such as marriage and kids. Also, Pan-Am really emphasized the physical appearance of these women which is a continued practice to this day by other airlines such as Singapore that strictly monitor the bodies of their airline stewardess to look a certain way and appear/talk to customers a certain way!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Belle

    A case of what you see is NOT what you get! I am deep into summer reading with the best of them. For me, that means a cozy mystery series re-read and books that have a beach in them with an occasional tell all thrown in. This cover implies flight attendant tell all. What I got is a doggone comprehensive history of PanAm Airlines. What I got was scholarly and NOT beach read. I will shake out my ruffled feathers now. The book has an audience and I think that is my husband. He will dig a look at th A case of what you see is NOT what you get! I am deep into summer reading with the best of them. For me, that means a cozy mystery series re-read and books that have a beach in them with an occasional tell all thrown in. This cover implies flight attendant tell all. What I got is a doggone comprehensive history of PanAm Airlines. What I got was scholarly and NOT beach read. I will shake out my ruffled feathers now. The book has an audience and I think that is my husband. He will dig a look at the start of the airline industry, how PanAm served the government through the Vietnam War, the history of the 747 and the baby flights and returning soldiers. He will absolutely skip right over the feminism words but that’s okay because I preach that all day to him. He will not be able to sort out each flight attendant’s story and that will be okay for him too because he will conglomerate their stories into a composite telling. I, myself, loved the baby flights and the small chat about uniforms and the feminine single life. There just wasn’t enough of this between all of the above. Going to go find some comfort reading now and plunking this one on the Mr.’s nightstand on my way.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kelley

    This is the story of Pan Am as well as the story of several of the stewardesses for the company in the 60's and the 70's. The book covers the overly strict qualifications in the beginning to the woman pushing the boundaries to be allowed to marry and have babies while still keeping their jobs. Reading how male chauvinistic the company was towards the woman was so sad and irritating. it made me think of the show "Mad Men." You don't have to have a connection with the airline industry to like this This is the story of Pan Am as well as the story of several of the stewardesses for the company in the 60's and the 70's. The book covers the overly strict qualifications in the beginning to the woman pushing the boundaries to be allowed to marry and have babies while still keeping their jobs. Reading how male chauvinistic the company was towards the woman was so sad and irritating. it made me think of the show "Mad Men." You don't have to have a connection with the airline industry to like this book. This is more than just an airline story. The woman's stories while flying are so interesting especially their involvement in moving soldiers around during the Vietnam War as well as being a part of Operation Babylift. The Babylift was removing over 2,000 children during the fall of Saigon. I also enjoyed reading their take on being some of the first flights into Russia and what that was like. My dad worked for United while I was growing up. We were lucky to fly a good amount and I spent a lot of time at the airport with him. The airport is a place of good memories for me. I have seen the behind the scenes, the cockpit many times, where the luggage goes and more. Of course, times have changed now. I really enjoyed this airline non-fiction book.

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