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Mission: Jimmy Stewart and the Fight for Europe

4.35  ·  Rating details ·  623 ratings  ·  139 reviews
Get to know the real George Bailey.

MISSION: JIMMY STEWART AND THE FIGHT FOR EUROPE [GoodKnight Books, October 24, 2016] provides the first in-depth look at the military career of Hollywood actor James M. Stewart, beginning with his family “mission” passed on from his grandfather (a Civil War hero) and father (who served in World War I) that military service in time of war
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published October 24th 2016 by GoodKnight Books
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Average rating 4.35  · 
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 ·  623 ratings  ·  139 reviews

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Sep 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I will admit to a predisposition to like this book. Jimmy Stewart is my all-time favorite actor. I have read a couple of books on his WW II experiences, so I had a superficial understanding of the facts of this biography. However, Mr. Matzen does a superb job of telling the motivations and stresses that Mr. Stewart and by extension all those who experienced combat in World War II.

I found the prologue really set the tone of the narrative. The author starts by describing a movie set in the baking
Oct 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
James Maitland Stewart is a name we don’t often hear. But, Jimmy Stewart, the movie star, most all of us have heard of him even if we never saw any of his movies while he lived. Why? Because he was the star of an enduring Christmas movie that is shown every year, multiple times, and excerpted whenever there is a play for sentimentality. It’s a Wonderful Life may not have been your favorite movie with Jimmy Stewart, but Matzen weaves this movie into the story of Stewart’s life and its significanc ...more
Sean Peters
Aug 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Thank you to Net Galley, the publishers and the author for a ARC.

A little from my action packed thriller fiction books, and nice to change pace.

As a film buff, former film writer and also a huge James Stewart fan.

Great to read about all his exploits in his early years in Hollywood in the 30's, and 40's before the war.

Here is where the author had done his enormous amount of research, as we follow his career in the American Air Force his training in America, then also his active flying and his mis
Mar 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I have finished one of the best biographies I've ever read called "Mission: Jimmy Stewart and the Fight for Europe." Just fantastic. It's not a fluffy easy book, but one of tremendous content and excellent story and experiences.

Jimmy, born James Maitland Stewart born in 1908 in Indiana/Pennsylvania to Elizabeth Ruth (Johnson) and Alexander Maitland Stewart, who owned a hardware store. He was of Scottish, Ulster-Scots, and some English, descent. He had an amazing and tremendous career in Hollywoo
Donna Davis
In Mission: Jimmy Stewart and the Fight for Europe, Robert Matzen provides an engaging, compelling memoir that focuses primarily on Stewart’s time as an aviator during World War II. Thanks go to Net Galley and to Goodknight Books for the DRC.

The book begins with Stewart’s childhood in a small Pennsylvania town. His is a close knit family with a strong military tradition. An outstanding student, he is educated at Princeton and falls in love with theater one summer. He hits the road for Hollywood
Dec 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
I’m getting old enough now that a lot of my students don’t recognize my Jimmy Stewart impression with its stuttering and awkward pauses. The truth is, I didn’t know much about Jimmy Stewart before reading this focused biography, despite my impressions of the screen actor. Stewart’s acting forms the bookends for the body of this volume. The reader is introduced to Stewart as the actor in It’s a Wonderful Life, the Christmas classic from Republic Pictures. Yet, it leaves the “snowy” set for the b ...more
Nicola Mansfield
Oct 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a biography or history of Jimmy Stewart's war years of which very little has previously been written as Jim refused to talk about it. Born into a family who had a male fighting in every war since the Spanish-American War, Jim was raised that one day he too must serve his country at war. The book may also be said to be a history of the 4445th Bomb Squad where Jim spent most of his active service, ultimately reaching the rank of full Colonel. Matzen has a flowing narrative style which is v ...more
Dec 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
While surfing channels one night I came across a channel that was showing old Johnny Carson reruns. On that show Johnny was interviewing Jimmy Stewart. They were talking about his movies "A Wonderful Life," "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," and "Vertigo". They also spent sometime talking about his service in WWII which I found kind of interesting and knew little about. I googled that and ran across this book. In it Matzen creates a vivid image of who Stewart was before and during WWII. Jimmy Stewa ...more
Terri Wangard
Jun 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Jimmy Stewart enjoyed success in Hollywood. Professionally, he won the 1941 Academy Award as Best Actor for The Philadelphia Story, and found enduring fame for It’s a Wonderful Life. Personally, he made the conquest of many of his female costars. That was disappointing to learn; I thought he had such a clean cut image.

With American involvement in the war likely, the draft began. His draft number got him in early, before Pearl Harbor. He waged his own battle to get into the Air Force. Overseas. I

Jan 20, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
MISSION provides a readily accessible story of Jimmy Stewart's service in the Army Air Corps during World War Two. Most folks around today who do remember Stewart probably do so because of "It's a Wonderful Life", the Frank Capra directed movie produced in 1946 and now an annual Christmas tradition in many families. Others may remember his aw shucks appearances on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show in the 1970s, where he came off as a slightly befuddled gentle old man ( a contrived image by a smart ma ...more
Feb 04, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
** 4 - 4 1/2 stars ** Growing-up in the 1970's and early '80's, I and those of my generation were surrounded by giants from the WWII 'greatest' generation. As someone who loves old Hollywood, I was drawn to this book, never having known all Jimmy Stewart had faced and accomplished in that war. MISSION: Jimmy Stewart and the Fight for Europe tells the story of how one of Hollywood's leading men of the time left behind the safety and security of a cushy life in film to partake in dangerous aerial ...more
Roger Rosenberg
Jan 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Excellent telling of the Jimmy Stewart story. Early in my own USAF career I had supervisors who flew missions with his or associate units. Never heard anything but praise for him. He was known to fly and command difficult missions while his status as a screen star could have resulted in an easier position elsewhere than at the front of a difficult and very dangerous part of the war.
Jan 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book not only about Jimmy Stewart's time in the service but life in a bomber group in WWII! ...more
Jane Gilbert
Jan 13, 2021 rated it it was amazing
“This is not Jimmy’s story. This is the story of the real guy, a quiet, high-strung loner who fought feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt.” – Robert Matzen

As I begin this review, I am in awe of the amount of research that went into writing this book. As with Fireball: Carole Lombard and the Mystery of Flight 3 and Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and World War II,” Robert Matzen spent years researching, conducting interviews, gathering first-hand accounts of events, and visiting actual locations wher
Bonnye Reed
May 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
GNAB I received a free electronic copy of this book from Netgalley, Robert Matzen, and GoodKnight Books in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for sharing your work with me.

This is an excellent history covering James Stewart's military career. Entertwined with the historical facts surrounding The WWII experiences of Clem Leone, a young enlisted man working as a radio operator in a plane under Stewart's command; Gertrud Siepmann 'Trudy' McVicker, a youngster raised in Germany during the war
Jan 07, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Reads more like historical fiction with a few errors

So how did the author write this book when Jimmy Stewart refused to talk about the war? He used research. Then he put many words and thoughts into Mr. Stewart's mouth and mind. I found this quite distracting.

At one point in the book the author writes about Mr. Stewart's thoughts about the German V-1 attacks on London on Dec. 23, 1943. The attacks didn't begin until June 13, 1944. There are similar errors. This book reads like historical fiction
Eric Althoff
Jan 23, 2018 rated it liked it

Jimmy Stewart refused to talk about his WWII service for the remainder of his storied life. He was already rich and famous when he voluntarily—and against the wishes of his Hollywood overseers, who in fact tried to scuttle his enlistment—joined up with the Army Air Corps as the Nazi threat became ever more grave for Europe and the world.

Stewart was a quiet, introspective man, which lent gravitas to the many historic film roles he assayed in his lengthy career. But it was this same reserve, the
***Goodreads giveaway win in exchange for an honest review***

Jimmy Stewart the American hero off and on the screen. The selfless man who gave up the glitz and glam of Hollywood in order to fulfill what he thought was his duty. He didn't want preferential treatment. He wanted to fight like many generations before him. War aged many men. It aged Stewart none the less. From flying his single engine trainer to flights in a B-24 this book is exciting. Unlike most fiction books it has a good amount of
Aug 14, 2017 rated it it was ok
I was looking forward to reading this story, albeit listening to it since I downloaded the audio version. But I found the narration and the writing so irritating that I abandoned the book before Captain Stewart even got to Europe. Initially I was put off by the sneering, sarcastic tone of the narrator, but once I sorted through that distraction I found the writing itself to be hackneyed and sophomoric. Too bad!
Jan 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"Mission: Jimmy Stewart and the Fight for Europe"

A recent article about Jimmy Stewart's military service in WWII and his following struggle with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) encouraged me to select the book titled "Mission: Jimmy Stewart and the Fight for Europe" by Robert Matzen for more information. I had no idea what an amazing journey I was about to take through Mr. Stewart's Philadelphia youth, college days at Princeton, Broadway, Hollywood and Army Air Corps experiences.

From the t
May 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Let me start off by saying I am a HUGE Jimmy Stewart fan. I have always enjoyed his "everyman" likability. And he's made some great films--VERTIGO, THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALENCE, REAR WINDOW, THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER, THE FLIGHT OF THE PHOENIX, IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, BELL BOOK AND CANDLE, and so many, many others. So when my son (thank you, Michael!) gave me this book, I was thrilled. I already knew a lot about Mr. Stewart's film career, but very little about his experiences in World War II ...more
Jun 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Before World War Two was brought to America’s distant shores, James Stewart had acted in more than two dozen films, including classics like “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” “Destry Rides Again,” and his Oscar-winning performance in “A Philadelphia Story.” He was a star, but he didn’t hide behind his fame and fortune when the call to arms sounded. Military service spanned generations in the Stewart family. James grew up listening to his grandfather’s first-hand account of the Battle of Gettysburg. ...more
Nov 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In a way, Stewart was a war veteran who happened to be a movie star. Yes, he was a Hollywood A-lister years before Poland was invaded and Pearl Harbor bombed, but Stewart came from a long line of military veterans: his ancestors fought in the American Revolution, the Civil War, and when Jimmy was 10 years old, his 45 year-old father, already a veteran of the Spanish-American War, went over to France to join the U.S. Army Ordinance Corps. Like Lieutenant Dan Taylor of Forest Gump fame, going to w ...more
Rick Davis
Mar 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Matzen has written a great book about Jimmy Stewart and his involvement with World War II. He begins with Stewart's early years growing up in Pennsylvania and then college life at Princeton. Matzen describes Stewart's interest in entertainment which took him to New York and eventually to Hollywood where he broke into films. However, Stewart had an underlying desire to serve his nation just as his father and others in his family before him served. Consequently, on the outbreak of World War II Jim ...more
George Heidemark
Feb 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
In 1946, Academy Award winning actor Jimmy Stewart stood under an umbrella to get shielded from the desert sun as he and director Robert Capra prepared to shoot a movie set in a representative small American town during Christmas. The film It's A Wonderful Like has become a classic. What is less known is that Stewart like millions of Americans was returning home after serving in the war and trying to adjust to a post war world. Robert Matzen brings to life the story of Jimmy Stewart as an office ...more
David McClendon, Sr
Jul 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Mission Jimmy Stewart and the Fight for Europe gives readers a side of Jimmy Stewart that most of us did not know.

This book gives readers a little taste of what Stewart was like as a child and gives us a few details of Jimmy the young man as he moved his way up in the entertainment industry.

However, this book gives readers a look at the horrors of war. We learn a little more about PTSD, which was referred to as shell-shock or being flak happy years ago.

This book is an important read not just b
Mar 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Most people only know Jimmy Stewart as the lovable actor who typically played everymen-type characters. Few would be surprised that he retired from the military as a Brigadier General, or that he finished WWII as a highly respected colonel who had flown dozens of combat missions in B-24s. He wasn't the only Hollywood star to serve his country during the war, but there were few who really put their star status aside and embraced their wartime role.

Stewart came from a family rich in military tradi
Jonathan Desimone
Mar 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-audible
This is a great book with an amazing level of detail in terms of how things happened during James Stewart’s war years. It was written in a way that makes you feel like you were with him the entire time. And the insights into his personal life pre-war were pretty interesting as well.

In the movies, everything usually works. In the Liberators, nothing did. They were leaky, engine 3 had all the hydraulics so if it had a problem watch out, it got icy at high altitudes, if one circuit went out in a fl
Sep 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Review of the Audiobook

Published in 2017 by Blackstone Audio.
Read by Peter Berkrot.
Duration: 11 hours, 45 minutes.

Just a few months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Hollywood actor Jimmy Stewart was a new recruit in the U.S. Army angling for the chance to fly a bomber in combat. At the time, he was the reigning male actor in Hollywood, having recently received the Oscar for Best Actor.

But, deep down, Jimmy Stewart wanted to continue the family tradition of military service. The Ar
patrick Lorelli
Jun 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a very good book not just about his life and how he got into show business but also how he felt a need to serve. To actually do something during the war, not just be in a uniform selling bonds. Once you get past the early part of his career that leads up to the war and him joining and becoming a pilot. You are then taken through his struggles to actually get into the air and actually fight. You met his crew and are given a first-hand account of Jimmy Stewart their missions. To me it seem ...more
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Robert Matzen is the author of eight books, including the bestsellers Mission: Jimmy Stewart and the Fight for Europe and Fireball: Carole Lombard and the Mystery of Flight 3, which won the 2015 ‘Biography of the Year’ Benjamin Franklin Award and earned praise from the Smithsonian Institution.

His forthcoming Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and World War II, involved three years of intense research and

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