This week’s guest on Veterans Radio is author Robert Matzen. Mr. Matzen takes a different approach to the traditional Hollywood biography, in part using storytelling skills honed as a feature documentary filmmaker. He also makes a commitment to get in the middle of the action and experience the subjects of his books.
Robert’s latest book, Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and World War II, takes audiences to a place Audrey never dreamed they would go: inside the wartime life of a ballerina in Arnhem under Nazi occupation. This time Robert traced Audrey’s footsteps in the Netherlands and dug deep into research archives in The Hague. With a pro-Nazi mother at war’s outset, and a father imprisoned for his fascist beliefs, Audrey Hepburn experienced war close-up. Matzen learned that she served as a doctor’s volunteer aide and as a runner for the Dutch Resistance. New interviews, research in top secret archives, and an alliance with Audrey’s son Luca Dotti led Robert on a fascinating voyage of discovery into experiences Audrey felt she needed to keep secret her whole life.
The second half of the program is going to be a replay of our interview with Matzen in September 2018 about his previous book, Mission: Jimmy Stewart and the Fight for Europe. In that one he took to the air in the cockpits of B-17 and B-24 World War II heavy bombers to get a glimpse of life in the air as experienced by the fliers of the Eighth Air Force. Mission reveals bomber pilot Stewart as a real-life action hero through 20 often-intense B-24 combat missions. Upon his return home, Jimmy Stewart went into production of the beloved It’s a Wonderful Life while still suffering the effects of what we now know as PTSD.
Matzen’s media tour raised awareness about PTSD, which became a focus of many interviews, with Glenn Beck and Veterans Radio.