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 education, 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.Cooke’s intimate storytelling weaves together the real-life stories of a memorable cast of characters, from small-town girl 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 light 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.
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 288 pages
Julia Cooke’s essays have been published in A Public Space, Salon, The Threepenny Review, Smithsonian, Tin House, and Virginia Quarterly Review, where she is a contributing editor. Her reporting has been published in Condé Nast Traveler, The New York Times, Playboy, The Village Voice, The Atavist, Saveur, and more. She was a finalist for a 2014 Livingston Award in International Reporting for her profile of a young Cuban sex worker; her article about the blossoming of architecture and design in Havana won a 2016 New York Press Club Award. Her work has been anthologized in Best American Travel Writing 2014, Best Women’s Travel Writing (Volume 9), One World, Many Cultures (10th edition), and noted in Best American Essays 2016 and Best American Travel Writing 2017.
She’s written about the Portuguese seaside town that inspired Ian Fleming’s James Bond and translating for a Guatemalan asylum-seeker, profiled the most prolific design writer in the U.S. and Mexico City’s best-known contemporary artist, and considered why American TV watchers love female spies. Julia is the recipient of fellowships from The Norman Mailer Center, The Constance Saltonstall Foundation, and Columbia University. She holds an undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and an MFA from Columbia University.