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Publisher's Summary

In the most penetrating and in-depth biography yet written about the beloved screen icon, award-winning author Donald Dewey delves beneath the persona into the usually unremarked turmoil of the actor's private life and behind the earnest Capraesque image so often accepted as the Stewart identity. He draws upon extensive research and nearly 200 interviews to follow Stewart from his hometown of Indiana, Pennsylvania, and a childhood shaped by a strong-willed father, to the fateful encounter at Princeton University with actress Margaret Sullavan, to his first professional theatrical experiences on Cape Cod and the forging of a remarkable life-long friendship with Henry Fonda in New York, to his unexpected stardom at MGM.
©1996 Donald Dewey; (P)1997 Blackstone Audiobooks

Critic Reviews

"Going beyond biography, Donald Dewey captures the wistful America of the 1940s and '50s and the screen icon who symbolized it....With polished ease and impeccable pacing." (AudioFile)

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What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.7 out of 5.0
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Performance

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Story

  • 3.8 out of 5.0
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  • Overall
  • Jan
  • Mesa, AZ, United States
  • 12-29-06

Love Jimmy Stewart

This audio book would have gotten 5 Stars if not for the hour and a half that starts this story....holy smokes....it lends nothing to the story of Jimmy Stewart. I have read 4 of the Stewart Bios over the last 20 years and this is by far the most in depth and most interesting - save the 1st hour or so - of them all. I particularly enjoyed learning about his youth and discovering where his values came from. Highly recomend but skip the first hour or so.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Judith
  • Okemos, MI, USA
  • 08-17-08

A bit anti-intellectual

This biography might be better if the author were not so critical of Stewart's values of work and discipline. Apparently, this author views the Scots-Irish as about a foot less intolerant than the Klan. The guy is also quite unfortunately anti-intellectual, taking gratuitous pot-shots at academic material that he obviously does not understand or where he has clearly missed the point. Most of the negativity is not necessary and produces a kind of ambivalent view even of Stewart himself.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Jane
  • Estevan, SK, Canada
  • 04-26-06

A touching and honest portrayal of a great star.

James Stewart was and is one of the best loved movie stars of all time.A biography of this complex and very private man was a monumental task, but author Donald Dewey managed to create a portrait that not only reveals the real Stewart, but pays tribute to the man and his art.It is full of great insider tidbits to please any hollywood trivia buff, as well as many unknown facts about the young Stewart. Stewart's movies are summarized and analyzed, but Dewey is careful not to let the book become one long movie review.All in all,this is a well done and complete biography. An excellent book.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Bruce
  • Altoona, PA
  • 01-01-12

Be Prepaired!

I am a big fan of Jimmy Stewart and I was looking forward to this book! What I was not prepaired for was the negative attitude the author had toward Jimmy Stewart. After the first hour and a half all I could think was 1) why did Donald Dewey even bother writting this book if he hates JS so much. and 2) I really hated myself for wasting my money on buying this book. But, after you get thru the 1.5 hour overview of his life and you get into the details of Jimmy's life the book becomes much more enjoyable. If you buy the book do yourself a favor and skip thru the first 1.5 hours and you will enjoy the details of his life much more. The details of his life are done in great detail.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Polly
  • Philadelphia, PA, United States
  • 03-03-14

Extremely Detailed, Somewhat Dry

Most of us love and admire actor James Stewart, and I started this book in hopes of learning more about him as a man. What was his wife Gloria like? Was Henry Fonda really his best friend? What were his favorite movie experiences? Who were his favorite directors and co-stars?

I learned ALL of that, and so, technically, the book was a success.

However, it was a little bit TOO detailed and quite dry.

For example, J.S. attended Mercersburg Academy (Pa.). Author Donald Dewey wrote much more than I cared to know about M.A., its founding, and its head master. The same can be said about the author's description of Indiana, Pa. (J.S.'s hometown), etc., etc.

So I recommend this book for factual content, but don't expect anything more than that.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Sharon
  • Oakland, CA, United States
  • 08-28-11

Fascinating

Enjoyed this story about America's beloved actor. Loved reading about his youth and what brought him to films. Definitely a must read for film buffs and those who enjoy understanding the person behind the icon.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Disappointing

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

Much to much time was taken describing the movies Stewart was in. The parts about his life were good, but much to little about that. Also the book was written before his death, which I did not realize and was a bit let down to not have that as part of the ending to the book.

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Very Informative

Jimmy Stewart is one of the greatest actors of all time. I love his story. He wasn't very controversial, which made this book a breath of fresh air.

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  • Story

A painfully long biography with little reward

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

I appreciate the idea that the author Don Dewey has challenged the elevated myth and urban legend of James Stewart. Unfortunately the foundation of "James Stewart: A Biography" is built around countless mediocre and mostly negative reviews of Stewart's films and media projects. Any meaningful insight of Stewart's life is eventually spun into a cynical and lengthy conjecture questioning the actor’s motives, weird references to rumors of his sexuality or building a case for his failing health. Considering Stewart lived until 89 the author's fascination with the actor's weight and frail state throughout the entire book was particularly annoying. <br/><br/>The core revelation towards the end of the book, Stewart’s deep-seated racism is based on a TV producer’s recollection and second hand family stories that as far as I know, the actor never publicly demonstrated or shared within the media, considering he campaigned and fund raised for many politicians throughout his life he certainly had the opportunity. I'm guessing that most people would not be shocked that someone born 1908 had views that by today's standards are considered racist and Dewey in my opinion did not build this case.<br/><br/>Dewey's other revelation that the actor may have been suffering from depression after the death of his son or less interesting film work being offered is somewhat obvious and anticlimactic. Indeed, the last few pages of this book end abruptly as if the author began to place himself into a state of deep boredom. <br/><br/>I was hoping that this book would have dove deeper into Stewart's world and been built around more substantive interviews and observations of the actors life. Perhaps Stewart's friends and family are not ready to fully open up, perhaps James Stewart was for the most part, what we saw on the screen. Regardless, this book is a stretch with little revelations and out of the 18 hours - about 9 of them could have easily been edited away. <br/><br/><br/><br/><br/><br/><br/>