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Mission

By: Robert Matzen,Leonard Maltin - foreward
Narrated by: Peter Berkrot
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Summary

In March 1941 Jimmy Stewart, America's boy next door and recent Academy Award winner, left fame and fortune behind and joined the United States Army Air Corps to fulfill his family mission and serve his country. He rose from private to colonel and participated in 20 often-brutal World War II combat missions over Germany and France. In mere months the war took away his boyish looks as he faced near-death experiences and the loss of men under his command. The war finally won, he returned home with millions of other veterans to face an uncertain future, suffering what we now know as PTSD. Younger stars like Gregory Peck were now getting roles that might have been Stewart's, and he 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. Mission presents the first in-depth look at Stewart's life as a squadron commander in the skies over Germany, his return to Hollywood, and the changed man who embarked on production of America's most beloved holiday classic.

Author Robert Matzen sifted through thousands of Air Force combat reports and the Stewart personnel files; interviewed surviving aviators who flew with Stewart; visited the James Stewart Papers at Brigham Young University; flew in the cockpits of the B-17 Flying Fortress and B-24 Liberator; and walked the earth of air bases in England used by Stewart in his combat missions of 1943-45. What emerges in Mission is the story of a Jimmy Stewart you never knew until now - a story more fantastic than any he brought to the screen.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2016 Robert Matzen (P)2017 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What listeners say about Mission

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Kyle & Nor-witch

Came to this as a fan wanting to know more about the man and the incredibly brave men of the USAAF and by extension the RAF.
My interest in his story was severely damaged by the mispronunciation of Norwich and then Kiel.
I then spent the rest of the production listening out to all the geographical place names to sense check them, which meant occasionally rewinding to listen to the narrative which became a secondary concern.
Now as a UK national, I understand that Americans have problems pronouncing other countries place names.
But, I would have thought with the obvious amount of detailed research that has gone on here, the producers would have also researched basic pronunciation of two well known Cities.
Such a shame.

4 people found this helpful

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Great story of a great Hollywood Actor.

A great deal of research must have gone into this book, simply because the man himself didn't speak of his service. The story weaves from the start of his acting career and then goes through his services to his country, ending back in Hollywood. Great narration keeps you listening. Enjoy 😊

2 people found this helpful

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Wow

Started this expecting little. Turns out it is probably the best read, best written, fullest account of life in a bomber squadrons in WWII!

I’ve listened to a few!

1 person found this helpful

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Boys but men

amazing story of courage and honour about boys who did what had to be done ✔️

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Interesting peek into Hollywood and the conflict

Well written and well read.
Captured the world of this well-loved actor who was trying to avoid the limelight and wanted to get on with serving his country.

1 person found this helpful

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A one sided view

I was intrigued to read an account of a man I much admired and enjoyed learning how my admiration wasn’t misplaced in the least. Jimmy Stuart seems to have lived his life in an exemplary manner, much how I hoped was true.
What I didn’t enjoy was the old fashioned ‘Hollywood’ version of how the War was won, as seen through the eyes of the American airmen portrayed.
I have no doubt this book will appeal to an American audience… the rest of the world will probably scratch its head and wonder!

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Kyle and nor which

Just pointing out some of the mispronounced place names. Also thought the narrator was over dramatic. It's a great story of a unique man and doesn't need over dramatic narration. The mispronounced place names were laughable.

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Frustratingly drawn out action sequences

I found myself shouting during the mission sequences for the narrator to ‘get on with it!’ Instead of enhancing the story, after a while they became annoying padding.

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poor naration.

narrating was very breathy and constantly over dramatic which seemed unnecessary but enjoyable story

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James Stewart was a war hero... and then an actor

I really enjoyed listening to this except for some mispronounciations by the narrator. 'Norwich' should be read as 'Norich', not 'Noor Witch'. There is also a factual error. The war in Europe ended on May 8th not May 7th. Aside from that, the book was very absorbing and memorable.

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  • G-Man
  • 13-05-18

SKIP THIS ONE

The first half of this book is a salacious overview of Jimmy Stewart's sexual conquests as a young man. If you thought you were getting insight into Stewart's heroic military service, think again. This author is primarily interested in the sex lives of movie stars, and with a judgmental angle to boot. I read 11 chapters and ultimately gave up. I recommend "Hank & Jim," which provides real insights into Stewart's life, war experience and career.

Beyond that, this is the worst narrator I've ever come across, and that's after listening to hundreds of Audible books. He's like a bad radio actor, overplaying everything with lip-smacking satisfaction. Skip this one.

17 people found this helpful

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  • David
  • 09-05-17

Penetrating Telling of Jimmy Stewart's War Years

I have read one other biography of Jimmy Stewart as well as approximately 100 books on The War. This story of Jimmy Stewart's time in Hollywood prior to the war and his service during the war was extensive and very well written. It especially captured the toll the War took on Jimmy Stewart as he flew bomber missions over Germany. And the narrator was excellent. He read the book with feeling and depth that matched the material well. He was much better than most narrators of non-fiction audio books.

I highly recommend this book to everyone but especially those who are interested in World War II as well as the Golden Era of Hollywood and one of it's greatest actors and a great patriot.

11 people found this helpful

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  • C. P. Rolston
  • 04-05-17

An absolute must for every Jimmy Stewart fan

You know how this story will end and still you are left hanging on every word! Like so many WWII veterans, there was a side to Jimmy Stewart that only those who served with him knew. This is that story. I've always liked him for his work as an actor. Now I love and respect him as a true hero of the war.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Christopher
  • 27-04-17

Should be called historical fiction.

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

The story based on the fact that Jimmy Stewart was a bomber pilot in WWII, true! But Jimmy Stewart NEVER talked about how he felt about the war and his place in it. The author puts himself in Stewart's' head and tell us how he felt...............The author doesn't know how Stewart actually felt. The author assumes Stewart was "Flak Happy" and suffered from what we now call "PTSD". Yes, Stewart was changed by the war, but since Stewart never discussed this with even his family, it is pure conjecture by the author. Jimmy Stewart was proud of his service. He continued with the Air Force and retired a Brig. General. He made movies promoting the Strategic Air Command. If his service had damage him to any great extent, he won't had allowed his stepsons to join the military, One of which lost his life in Vietnam.
The authors facts are also in question, P38's, P47's and P51's did escort bombers. But never at the same time. The P38 and P47's could only go a far as the Belgian border of Germany even with drop tanks. The P51's met up with the Bombers when the went in to Germany and would go all the way to the target starting in Jan 44. After the Bombers exited Germany then the shorter range 38's and 47's at separate intervals would escort them to the English channel.

Has Mission turned you off from other books in this genre?

No, just books by this author.

What three words best describe Peter Berkrot’s performance?

Clear. expressive, dramatic.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

NO!

Any additional comments?

The author has done Mr. Stewart's memory a disservice.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Janet
  • 01-03-20

Disappointing

I enjoyed the story of Jimmy Stewart for the most part. His military service was outstanding and something I had never heard too much of.

I did not expect to hear about the great Jimmy Stewart’s sex life in detail and the many recognizable Hollywood female stars. That stuff could have been left out and the book would have been much more satisfying for me.

Would I recommend this book? NO. There are probably much better books than this one out there. I am returning this book to audible.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Bee Keeper
  • 11-02-22

Narration Was Total Mismatch With This Title

I know I cannot complain about the price, Audible Plus is always free, but always a roll of the proverbial dice. Narrator Peter Berkrot is well suited for "Lives of the Rich and Famous" TV series or "Top Ten Mega Yachts of the World", just not a historical work like "Mission". The first half of the book, the author pours on phrases like "Jimmy bagged such and such starlet" and many other tawdry lines. I realize that James Stewart is not deity but hey . . . . almost, and this kind of kiss, sex and tell writing belongs in the National Enquirer. I wanted to embrace this title as much or more than others like "Masters of the Air: America’s Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War Against Nazi Germany" or "Target Tokyo: Jimmy Doolittle and the Raid That Avenged Pearl Harbor" however I was not able to do that.

I am no prude. I simply think that Mr Matzen mixed way too much of one ingredient, and way too little of the main ingredient thereby ending up with Hollywood smut. As a former Army pilot in Vietnam, I did find Jimmy's exploits in Europe fascinating and new to me. Around my house, we watch "It's A Wonderful Life" several times a year and I now can see where James Stewart found the deep emotion he used to so successfully act out several dramatic scenes in the film, scenes that leave my heart and soul aching for his character. This author could have done much better with the subject of his work. You all decide for yourselves. I was very disappointed.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Frank Donnelly
  • 24-07-19

A Very Good Audiobook, At Times Seemed A Little Bit "Gossipy"

This is a well read audiobook of this biography of Jimmy Stewart. I read along on Kindle while listening. The audiobook is acceptably accurate. There were a few mispronunciations that did not really alter the story.

The actual biography is also very good. This is just a matter of taste, but I felt the biography wondered into gossip. There is conversation not only about who Jimmy Stewart associated with and dated, but who he "bagged". The actual word "bag" or bagged" is used repeatedly. I have little doubt some will find that interesting, and in truth I listened to everything, but I did not expect a biography of Jimmy Stewart to read quite that way. That may reflect that I am just an old "fuddled duddy". Thank You...

3 people found this helpful

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  • John
  • 28-07-18

Who Knew?

I think most of us who remember Jimmy Stewart think of him as the quintessential American from "It's a Wonderful Life" or countless other films, or perhaps as the courtly gentleman on the Tonight Show. Who knew Jimmy was a war hero and ultimately a General? He certainly didn't talk about it, at least that I can recall.

The book takes us through Stewart's early life through this success in Hollywood in the 1930s. We learn (again, this was new to me) that he was quite a ladies man, having affairs with most of the well known actresses of the day. His duty to country having been instilled by his father and grandfather, we wanted to serve in World War II. As a pilot, he wanted to serve in the Air Corps.

The story then turns to Jimmy's struggle to get into the service, and then to take a front line (as opposed to ceremonial) role, all at a relatively advanced age for combat pilots. Stewart flew the missions and saw many young men under his command not survive. He had to write the family members, and it is clear that it was painful and stressful to him.

The story is well told, from a first person point of view that the author (surprisingly) makes work quite well. The story moves along and it is a very good listen.

3 people found this helpful

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  • popig
  • 28-07-18

Wow

Like so many vets of that time quite too a fault. This was excellent told story of a time before we all lost our minds.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Mark Mears
  • 09-06-18

Jimmy Stewart - War Hero

I really enjoyed the book and the information it conveyed about one of my favorite actors. He always seemed so genuine, and the fact that he flew 20 combat missions and was well respected by men whose lives he was responsible for reinforced that opinion.

Having listened to the book on audio, the only negative I have is the gentleman who read the book put too much drama into much of it. Imagine listening to Shatner’s Captain Kirk p-u-n-c-h-i-n-g out every word. If the info from the book wasn’t so interesting to me, I couldn’t have finished it.

Worth the listen, just be prepared.

3 people found this helpful