Mission: Jimmy Stewart and the Fight for Europe by Robert Matzen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
World War II was a defining moment for a generation. No matter where you came from or what skills you had, if you were an American, you did what you could for the war effort. For a famous face like James Stewart, the pull to serve his country was no different (and the pressure from his father to serve like every other man in their family was also a pressure he couldn't ignore). In Mission by Robert Matzen, readers are able to see what Stewart saw during those war years and how it affected him for the rest of his life.
The book does start out with an abundance of facts that go beyond what's written in a standard Stewart biography by exploring the military history of his family. It does briefly go through his early Hollywood career and antics with his buddy Henry Fonda, then gets into the war years. What makes this book unique is that Stewart never really talked about his war years, so learning about it was fascinating, and the writer made the action compelling.
Mission goes further by weaving multiple stories into the narrative along with Stewart's. Readers also get glimpses into the lives of a German pilot, a German family not wholly devoted to the Reich, and a radio operator from Baltimore that served with Stewart's flying group. It paints a wider picture of the war and the suffering that happened for everyone involved. Stewart fans will love learning about the war years, and for those who aren't really interested in Stewart or his Hollywood fame, the war stories stand on their own.
*Received a copy of this book from NetGalley
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