Robert Matzen is an American author who specializes in Hollywood history. He spent 10 years with NASA and his avid interest in aviation-related topics resulted in the bestsellers Mission: Jimmy Stewart and the Fight for Europe and Fireball: Carole Lombard and the Mystery of Flight 3. He lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Leonard Maltin is a film critic and historian who can be regularly seen on ReelzChannel and Turner Classic Movies. He is the author of the long-running Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide and its companion, Leonard Maltin's Classic Movie Guide. He lives in Los Angeles, California.
"Exhaustively researched, exceptionally well written, Mission:
Jimmy Stewart and the Fight for Europe is as informed and
informative as it is thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization
and presentation. While certain to be an enduringly popular
addition to community and academic library American Biography
collections and a 'must' for all Jimmy Stewart fans, it should be
noted for personal reading lists that Mission: Jimmy Stewart and
the Fight for Europe is also available in a Kindle format."
--Midwest Book Review
"Unlike many Hollywood stars, James Stewart (1908-97) didn't make morale-boosting combat films during World War II; he was busy flying combat missions over Europe. Like many veterans, he preferred not to talk about his experiences when the conflict was over. One of the first major studies of the actor's risky missions over Nazi Germany, this title chronicles Stewart's improbable rise from small-town life in Indiana, PA, to his college years at Princeton, where he acquired his love for acting and befriended Henry Fonda, Joshua Logan, and Margaret Sullavan. His shy persona attracted the likes of actresses Marlene Dietrich, Olivia de Havilland, Norma Shearer, and Loretta Young. The bulk of this book covers Stewart's stay in England, his relationships with fellow crew members, who dealt daily with fear, loneliness, mud, and bitter cold. Stewart returned from Europe a changed man, reflected in his edgy, sometimes angry antihero roles in 1950s westerns and Alfred Hitchcock films. Author Matzen relies on extensive research and the cooperation of surviving crew members; however, as in his Fireball: Carole Lombard and the Mystery of Flight 3, small details and comments about the subject's thoughts must be taken on faith. VERDICT: Overall, an illuminating, recommended look at a hidden chapter in Stewart's life." --Library Journal
"This week's must-read books...A revealing look at the wartime service of one of America's most beloved actors." --New York Post
"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." --Publishers Weekly