For the next half century, Stewart refused to discuss his combat experiences and took the story of his service to the grave. Mission presents the first in-depth look at Stewart s life as a Squadron Commander in the skies over Germany, and, his return to Hollywood the changed man who embarked on production of America s most beloved holiday classic.
Author Robert Matzen sifted through thousands of Air Force combat reports and the Stewart personnel files; interviewed surviving aviators who flew with Stewart; visited the James Stewart Papers at Brigham Young University; flew in the cockpits of the B-17 Flying Fortress and B-24 Liberator; and walked the earth of air bases in England used by Stewart in his combat missions of 1943-45. What emerges in Mission is the story of a Jimmy Stewart you never knew until now, a story more fantastic than any he brought to the screen."
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-08-29
- Reviewer: Staff
Even before Hollywood legend Jimmy Stewart went off to war, he was a fighter, working hard to prove his passion for military aviation to the U.S. government. In this meticulously researched book, film historian Matzen (Fireball: Carole Lombard and the Mystery of Flight 3) provides the rich, detailed backstory of Stewart’s time as a WWII bomber pilot. He delves deep into Stewart’s restless spirit, chronicling his family’s legacy of war service, his rise to movie stardom, the many women in his life, and his struggles to fly and serve his country. Matzen paints a revealing picture of a man who defied bureaucratic and health obstacles to become a U.S. Army Air Force squadron commander. He depicts the excitement and horror of life in a bomber crew as Stewart commanded a series of missions over Germany, interspersing his story with those of other WWII survivors, such as radio operator Clem Leone and Gertrud Siepmann, who was a young child in Germany during Hitler’s rise to power. He also shows that, although considered a war hero, Stewart had difficulty getting reestablished as an actor until Frank Capra cast him in It’s a Wonderful Life. Military and movie buffs alike will revel in this vivid portrayal of a man who successfully straddled two worlds. (Oct.)