Of all the celebrities who served their country during World War II -and they were legion -Jimmy Stewart was unique. On December 7th, when the attack on Pearl Harbor woke so many others to the reality of war, Stewart was already in uniform - as a private on guard duty south of San Francisco at the Army Air Corps Moffet Field. Seeing war on the horizon, Jimmy Stewart, at the height of his fame after Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and his Oscar-winning turn in The Phadelphia Story in 1940, had enlisted several months earlier.
Jimmy Stewart, Bomber Pilot chronicles his long journey to become a bomber pilot in combat. Author Starr Smith, the intelligence officer assigned to the movie star, recounts how Stewart's first battles were with the Air Corps high command, who insisted on keeping the naturally talented pilot out of harm's way as an instructor pilot for B-17 Flying Fortresses and B-24 Liberators. By 1944, however, Stewart managed to get assigned to a Liberator squadron that was deploying to England to join the mighty Eighth Air Force. Once in the thick of it, he rose to command his own squadron and flew twenty combat missions, including one to Berlin. “My father would feel honored by this book.” —Kelly Stewart Harcourt, daughter of Jimmy Stewart "We would have made Jimmy a group commander [equivalent to an army regiment] if the war had lasted another month." - General Jimmy Doolittle.
"An excellent biography of a distinguished airman and fine human being." - Roger Freeman, author of The Mighty Eighth: A History of the U.S. 8th Air Force.
"How wonderful it is that Starr Smith has finally directed a literary light on the personal history of Jimmy Stewart. . . . I welcomed Starr's book. It is needed and wanted. Bravo!" - Gay Talese.
"This is a very well researched and written book. . . . It fills a place in history about no mere actor but a courageous and selfless man, Brigadier General Jimmy Stewart, USAF." - General Michael E. Ryan, former Chief of Staff of the Air Force.
“I have met a few movie stars, but of them all, I think that Jimmy Stewart was most like those modest heroes he portrayed. Now journalist Starr Smith has raised the curtain on Stewart’s gallant service as a bomber pilot and air combat commander in World War II.” —Walter Cronkite, from the Foreword
A good read but somewhat disappointing
By Marvin D. Pipher - October 19, 2006
I was well aware of Jimmy Stewart's military record when I set out to read this book. I was, however, anxious to learn a bit more about Stewart's combat exploits during World War II. In that regard, this book was somewhat disappointing. Rather than let us get inside Stewart's heart and mind and sense what he experienced, it appears to chronicle Stewart's time in service, letting us know where, when, and in what capacities he served; what a great guy he was, how dedicated and successful he was, and when and to what ranks he was promoted; and, in general, what many of those who served with him thought of him, but it never gets down to the nitty-gritty of what he actually did at a personal level. The reader, it would seem, is always looking from the outside in.
I was also disappointed by the fact that much of the book isn't even about Jimmy Stewart. Stewart seems to be a thread running through a broader story about World War II in Europe and, more specifically, the air... read more
In War Like On Screen
By John Matlock "Gunny" - April 25, 2005
This book is almost a love letter to Jimmy Stewart. And it may well be that the love is justified in this case. The mild "aw shucks" demeanor of an honest, average middle class individual thrust into crisis seen so often on the screen is reported here over and over by people who knew him during WW II. It's clear that he was no dummy, graduate of Princeton.
This book though is on his wartime career. Entering the Army early in 1941 (and seeing his salary drop from $6,000 a month to $21) he was by the end of the war a seasoned bomber pilot with 20 missions behind him, including a visit to Berlin.
In part this book has to concentrate on the differences a movie star has to see (the Army didn't want him killed), but most of it is on the way Jimmy Stewart handled himself in the War. It's a view of the war seen in movies like 12 O'Clock high, but this one is a personal view as seen by one man. If even half of what the book says is true, Jimmy Stewart clearly deserved his... read more
Humility comes before Honor-Stewart had both
By Paul Mcaleer - March 26, 2006
Smith does a nice job recounting the days the Jimmy Stewart spent in the military during WWII. I found it very detailed oriented and less filled with anecdotes than I would have thought all these years removed from WWII. I knew a bit about Stewart's involvement in the Army Air Corps, which became the Air Force, but this book really filled in the details of his time during the war. Guys like Jimmy Stewart are a far cry from the phonies like Alec Baldwin who threaten to go back to Canada but wind up sticking around the USA to sap of of our money with second rate films.
I think you will be amazed to find out all that Stewart had to do in order to become the hero he was. He was not drafted as a previous review claims, rather he inlisted against the will of the studio. He also had to endure undesired special treatment because no one wanted to put him in harms way. Eventually his desire to train for and see active duty prevailed and some forty odd years later this film star... read more
The Consolidated B-24 Liberator first saw combat in June of 1942, making a daring raid into Nazi-occupied Romania to bomb the oil fields at Ploesti. Nearly 18,500 Liberators were built during the war ...