As I mentioned earlier this week, Mr. Pete, the kids and I saw "Made for Each Other" last week via Netflix. We are big fans of Jimmy Stewart, but the leading lady, Carole Lombard, was unknown to us. Not completely. Of course I had heard of her, but I really knew nothing of her life, only that her life had been cut short in a plan crash.
So I started to look on the internet for more information. Time and time again, the new book Fireball: Carole Lombard and the Mystery of Flight 3 by Robert Matzen was mentioned as being very authoritative about Lombard and the plane crash. Since I grew more intrigued, I bought a copy for my Kindle and have been reading it off and on all week.
I enjoyed the structure of the book. Mr. Matzen alternates chapters about Carole Lombard's life with chapters on the events and people surrounding the crash. I was a reader who primarily wanted to learn about the accident, but I also got glimpses of who Ms. Lombard was as a person and why she was so important in the movie industry of the 1930s and early 40s. I think this made for a more well-rounded book.
As an occasional National Enquirer reader, I found the behind-the- scenes look at Carole Lombard's life and loves, and the information about Hollywood in the early 20th century to be interesting and satisfying.
But the real heart of the book lays in the stories surrounding the crash. I did not expect to get as caught up in the stories of the first responders and the rescue team. Nor did I think I would learn so much about the other victims of the crash, such as Clark Gable's best friend, the pilot and the flight attendant, or the young military men on their way to fly bombers at the start of the war. But it was those stories that really pulled me in to the human side of this tragedy and gave it more depth. Mr. Matzen even found a woman who had survived the crash and shared her story.
The book is well documented - and that's a story all by itself because Mr. Matzen poured over documentation, legal papers, interviews and newspaper accounts from 70 years ago. He also traveled to the remote disaster site himself.
The back of the book has citations for all of the resources and interviews, and that's the part I have been stressing to my high school students as we talk about research and the difference between primary and secondary resources. Mr. Matzen gives a well-thought out and logical theory for what caused this disaster that I found to be plausible. Since at this time in America, reporting and conclusions tend to come from ideology instead of evidence, I found Mr. Matzen's thought process to be refreshing. I'll be sharing this as an example with my students in the future.