cover image Mission: Jimmy Stewart and the Fight for Europe

Mission: Jimmy Stewart and the Fight for Europe

Robert Matzen. GoodKnight, $28.95 (408p) ISBN 978-0-9962740-5-0

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.)