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Join us as we virtually welcome Julia Cooke & Catherine Grace Katz as they converse about Cooke’s new book of narrative history, Come Fly The World: The Jet Age Story of the Women of Pan Am, on the remarkable unseen role women flight attendants of the 60s and 70s played on the world stage. The book reveals the largely hidden role played by international airline stewardesses, as they were then known, in the Vietnam War, while positing them as a cross between a diplomat, an adrenaline junkie, and a third-wave feminist. The two authors will also cover topics about women performing public diplomacy in unofficial roles across history. To RSVP, fill out the RSVP form at the bottom of this page or call 843-723-9912.
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Come Fly the World: The Jet-Age Story of the Women of Pan Am.
In Mad-Men-era of commercial flight, Pan Am Airways attracted the kind of young woman who wanted out, and wanted up. As Kirkus Reviews raved in a starred review, this “limber, well-researched … account of Pan Am World Airways in its glory days is smoothly interwoven with the engagingly complex stories of several longtime flight attendants … An entertaining, insightful look into a gritty and glamorous era in air travel.”
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 the right height (between 5’3″ and 5’9″), the right weight (between 105 and 140 pounds), and the right age (under twenty-six years old at the time of hire). Julia 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, and as it played an astonishing part in Operation Babylift—the dramatic evacuation of two thousand children from Saigon.
Julia Cooke’s father worked for Pan Am until she was nine, and her interest in writing this book was further sparked when in recent years, as she says, “I met two vibrant ex-stewardesses, and eventually others, women in their late seventies who seemed to have lived life elbow deep in adventure.” Cooke wanted to know “How did these sophisticated, smart women acquire the attitudes that so impressed me, and why have they been denied credit for their very real contributions to the freedom to roam enjoyed by women of younger generations like me?” These answers and more are all found in Come Fly the World…
ABOUT JULIA & CATHERINE:
JULIA COOKE is a journalist and travel writer whose features and personal essays have been published in Time, Smithsonian, Condé Nast Traveler, and Saveur. She is the author of The Other Side of Paradise: Life in the New Cuba. The daughter of a former Pan Am executive, Cooke grew up in the Pan Am “family,” a still-strong network across the globe. She lives in Vermont.
CATHERINE GRACE KATZ is a writer and historian from Chicago. She graduated from Harvard in 2013 with a BA in History and received her MPhil in Modern European History from Christ’s College, University of Cambridge in 2014, where she wrote her dissertation on the origins of modern counterintelligence practices. After graduating, Catherine worked in finance in New York City before a very fortuitous visit to the book store in the lobby of her office in Manhattan led her to return to history and writing. She is currently pursuing her JD at Harvard Law School. The Daughters of Yalta is her first book.