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Presenting the first in-depth look at the life of America’s boy next door, Jimmy Stewart, this book spans from when he joined the United States Army Air Corps to his return to Hollywood as a changed man who embarked on the production of America’s most beloved holiday classic. During his military career, he rose from private to colonel and participated in 20 often-brutal World War II combat missions over Germany and France. When the war was over, he returned home with millions of other veterans to face an uncertain future, suffering from what is now known as PTSD. Stewart didn’t know if he would ever work in Hollywood again. Then came It’s a Wonderful Life. For the next half century, Stewart refused to discuss his combat experiences and took the story of his service to the grave. This book brings to life a Jimmy Stewart that readers never knew until now, a story more fantastic than any he had brought to the screen.
Robert Matzen is a former federal contractor for NASA who now specializes in Hollywood history. He has appeared on BBC 2 and BBC Radio 4. He is the author of Carol Lombard: A Bio-Bibliography, Errol & Olivia, and Fireball and the coauthor of Errol Flynn Slept Here. He lives in Bethel Park, Pennsylvania.
"Robert Matzen’s compelling narrative gets inside his subject’s head to recreate specific moments in the heat of preparation for combat . . . his work is rooted in such extensive research that it has the ring of truth in every case.” —Leonard Maltin, author, Turner Classic Movies Presents Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide"Matzen provides an intriguing mixture of biography and history as he relates not only the story of Lombard's life, but those of the other passengers on Flight 3, as well as the curious elements of the plane crash." —Publishers Weekly on Fireball"Absorbing . . . Matzen adds value by blending archival evidence with contemporary fact-finding to get more specific, depicting a probable sequence of entwined cockpit events that cascaded into tragedy." —Air & Space Smithsonian on Fireball