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Mission: Jimmy Stewart and the Fight for Europe, by Robert Matzen

Discussion in 'Biographies and Everything Else' started by ColHessler, Sep 17, 2019.

  1. ColHessler

    ColHessler Member

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    Length: 371 pages, including index

    As with many veterans, James Stewart was tight-lipped about his time in WWII. I only recall him talking about it on The World at War once, for a few seconds. So I was interested when I saw this work.

    We start off with his youth, and how his family had produced fighting men for America starting with the Revolution. His father was in World War I when Jim was a child, and also, Jim's love of flying started then. We go with him to Princeton, as his father wanted him to do, then to Hollywood. After a few movies, and feeling stuck in a rut, he learns to fly, so that in the war he felt was coming, Jim could do his part in the air.

    He was delighted when he got a low draft number and got the call. He was not happy when Louis B. Mayer of MGM tried to keep him with the Motion Picture Unit, stuck in the States, and had to lobby to get further flying training. He worked his way up to four engine status and helped train a B-24 unit, which he took to England. We are with him in his first mission in Dec., 1943. His closest brush with death was during Operation Argument, or "Big Week," the offensive to destroy German aircraft production. The strain takes its toll on Stewart, and we see him as he moves up the ladder, and finds his old unit getting shot up.

    Matzen also breaks up the narrative with chapters on Adolf Galland, and also a German civilian girl he found out happened to see Stewart's formation on a raid once. He also tells us about a radioman Stewart meets once, and what that man goes through being shot down and as a POW.

    We finish the story with Stewart making It's a Wonderful Life, and talking about his other movies and how he kept everything bottled up.

    There are some good pictures of Stewart, and the B-24's, as well as of Galland and the German girl and her family.

    I'm not thrilled with the author breaking up the Stewart story like he did with the other people, though I'm sure he thought it worked. He does make you feel how Stewart did, with things likely borrowed from other stories about the man, and from other works.

    This book does give you a look at James Stewart, the veteran, but I can't really give it more than three stars.
     
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  2. Jba45ww2

    Jba45ww2 Active Member Patron  

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    I thought the book was a very interesting read. Especially when the books describes how Stewart fights his fatigue and even at one part saying he did not want to fly anymore once he was home. Definitely shows you the other side of one the biggest Hollywood stars.
     
  3. harolds

    harolds Member

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    In a lot of his movies he has his character come across as somewhat of a "milk-toast". Some milk-toast!
     
  4. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    Ah well...well...that was a good review Col!

    [​IMG]
     
  5. ColHessler

    ColHessler Member

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    That was very telling about him, seeing how he loved flying from a young age.
     
  6. ColHessler

    ColHessler Member

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    I'm sure he was glad to be rid of the photographer when this shoot was done!
     
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