In early 1928, long before she would become the subject of the most enduring missing-persons case in history, Amelia Mary Earhart was a largely unknown social worker in Massachusetts, coaching girls’ basketball and organizing clubs for Boston’s growing immigrant population. Then, in April, she took a telephone call that would change her life.

Not a year earlier, Charles Lindbergh’s transatlantic flight had transformed aviation from crackpot novelty to full-fledged international fever. Within months, G. P. Putnam’s Sons published We, Lucky Lindy’s account of the 33-hour crossing, under the guidance of company scion and publicity maestro George Palmer Putnam. The book sold hundreds of thousands of copies in no time flat. For a time, Lindbergh was arguably the most famous person on the planet.