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Fireball: Carole Lombard and the Mystery of Flight 3 [Audiobook, CD] [MP3 CD]

Robert Matzen , Tavia Gilbert
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • MP3 CD
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audiobooks; MP3/Cdr Un edition (14 Jan 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1482996685
  • ISBN-13: 978-1482996685
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 13.3 x 18.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fireball 6 Jan 2014
By S Riaz HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover
This book is part biography and part the story of a tragic accident, in which actress Carole Lombard and twenty one other people lost their lives. Much of the wreckage of TWA Flight 3, the commercial airliner which crashed on the evening of January 16th, 1942, is still strewn across the side of Mount Potosi in Nevada. The author actually climbed to the crash site and it took him four and a half hours to ascend the steep mountain slope. It can only be imagined how hard it was to mount a rescue mission on that dark night, so long ago.

However, despite so much time passing, the author does a wonderful job in recreating those events - tracking down living eyewitnesses and accounts from people that were there. He tells of how the plane was refuelled at McCarren airfield in Los Vegas, where it took off without problems; heading for the Birbank Air Terminal, where Clark Gable, Lombard's husband, and the wife of the Hollywood publicist accompanying her, were waiting for the plane. Lombard should not have even been on board, having promised not to fly. As well as being accompanied by publicist Otto Winkler, she was also with her mother - who had made her promise to travel by train, due to her fear of flying. Desperate to get home quickly, Lombard insisted on taking a flight. Her mother, Elizabeth Peters was a student of numerology and begged her not to take the plane. Three was apparently an unlucky number and they were taking Flight , arriving at Indianapolis at 3am, there were three of them flying and her daughter was 33 years and months old... The omens were not good.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fireball! 14 May 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I won't write a detailed review as others have done that so well, but I would add that the main reason for Carole Lombard's death, and that of her mother and agent Otto Winkler, was due to Carole herself. I know she was concerned about Gable's womanizing, but had they all taken the train they would only have arrived back a few hours after the plane was due to touch down; there were so many delays on the plane journey home it was hardly worth it. It makes it so much more tragic.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Informative and a brilliant read 1 May 2014
Format:Audio Download
I am a fan of Carole Lombard so this book appealed to me. Finding out what really fascinating although at times it got bogged down with too much technical details.
But I kept reading and the author did an amazing job of being thorough with not only the life of Lombard but the events of the crash.
He makes it clear that her husband Clark Gables reported womanizing gave Ms Lombard the need to get home as soon as possible, or else she would not have been on the plane.
This author is one to watch, his eye for detail is amazing. and he has written a book both informative but interesting and one you keep reading. I highly recommend it
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Fantastic Book 8 Mar 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I had not heard of this author beore, but I am so glad that I have discovered him as this book was so well written and informative. There have been very few full biographies written about Carole Lombard but this is the best one that I have read, and I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone who is interested in this beautiful film star and her tragically short life. There are many aspects of the plane crash in which she died that I was not aware of before and the circumstances were made even more poignant by the fact that there were a number of chances where she could have escaped her fate by not re-boarding the plane at various stops en route to Las Vegas - I kept thinking if only...if only... However, it is clear that Clark Gable's womanising was a strong factor in her her determination to stay on the plane and get home as soon as possible rather than taking the longer train journey - terrible guilt must have been felt by him for the rest of his life. Lombard apart, it was a also very interesting to read about the lives of the other unfortunate passengers and crew on that plane, all mainly young army fliers, and heartbreaking to read about the affect of the crash on their friends and loved ones , which continued to reverberate over many years for those affected.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  197 reviews
83 of 86 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling Story That Comes Together In A Most Interesting Way 8 Dec 2013
By G.I Gurdjieff - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I initially read the digital version of this book compliments of NetGalley. The opinions expressed here are solely my own.

Compelling, exactingly correct, suspenseful, detailed, visual and well-written. All these words came to mind as I read and then reread Fireball. This book is an interesting hybrid that combines the accurate and truthful personal life story of actress Carole Lombard and the events that lead to her early death in January, 1942 as the result of a plane crash.

I'm a long time fan of Lombard's and was curious when I saw this as an offering from NetGalley. Since I have access to detailed information about this air disaster that isn't in the public domain, I wondered how accurate this book would be and how it would be constructed.

Seventy-one years after her death, Lombard is remembered primarily by fans of '30's and '40's American cinema or her death at a young age. Her films frequently are shown on cable network Turner Classic Movies (TCM) and are available on DVD. Lombard is also remembered as the third wife of film icon Clark Gable. Lombard and Gable were the Jolie and Pitt of their time. Gable may still remembered for his long and productive career, but at the time of Lombard's death they were both top box office draws. While they shared on screen pairing in 1932, a chance meeting at a party four years later lead to a fabled romance that was not without difficulties (such as Gable's second wife) and then finally marriage. In January, 1942 Lombard was one of the first film stars to use her celebrity to sell war bonds at what would come to be known as a Victory Drive. Lombard concluded the drive in her home state of Indiana. Her presence had brought people out in droves and she wanted to return to her home base in California as quickly as possible for personal reasons. Her traveling companions included her mother Bess Peters who absolutely did not want to travel by air and P.R. rep Otto Winkler who also had a very good reason for not wanting to fly.

As I started reading Fireball, it struck me that I liked the way author Robert Matzen conceived this project. Executed as part biography and part anatomy of an air disaster, the author constructed a factual biography that was not embellished with the typical Hollywood speculation though it certainly addressed a lot of the myths concerning Lombard's life and the subsequent crash in the Nevada mountain range ended it. This book relies heavily on personal interviews from family, friends, and associates of Lombard and the information regarding the crash of TWA Flight #3 comes from public records, investigation findings, and eye witness accounts from observers such as people who witnessed the fireball created when the plane slammed into Mt. Potosi as well as members of the crew involved in the recovery effort, and employees at the airport in Las Vegas.

Aside from the fact that Mr. Matzen has his story right down to the smallest detail, the end result of alternating between biography and the events covering the plane crash, recovery efforts, and its aftermath which included a detailed investigation are suspenseful. I knew the outcome when I began this book and found that the momentum continued to build as I read on. This was quite impressive and absolutely enhanced this book from my perspective.

As for the biographical information, there were a lot of details which I was not aware of. In retrospect, myths such as Lombard's relationship with crooner Russ Columbo started making sense despite the fact that reality was greatly at odds with the myths. Additionally, there has been plenty of theories concerning the crash itself. One popular story that was favored was sabotage by Nazi spies. J. Edgar Hoover endorsed this one for awhile and Orson Welles floated this version while he held court during extended booze fueled lunches until his own demise.

I liked the way the author handled the plane crash. While Lombard was the best known person on the flight, Matzen created a broader story about the 22 lives that were lost on the flight. The individual stories varied and included a young wife who wanted to get home to her husband and a world famous musician who fortuitously dodged an unenviable fate by being bumped from the flight.

There is so much more that I could say about this book. I loved it. It was well written and nearly impossible to put down. While I had my digital copy from NetGalley, I bought extra copies as gifts for myself and others. The hard copy includes new additions such as a larger photo gallery and an interview with a woman who was bumped from the flight in Albuquerque which for me brought this story full circle.
40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fireball died in fireball 18 Dec 2013
By Rikki White - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I like to read about film stars and so do lots of readers judging by the means the media use to get every little detail about the lives of celebrities...Carole Lombard was the typical great star at the height of the golden age of movies. She was married to the King of Hollywood, Clark Gable, a man who adored her devil may care attitude to life. She had it all and what she wanted, she got, which ultimately resulted in her untimely death. The Fireball died in a Fireball which was totally avoidable for her and her travelling companions who were desperately against the flight she insisted upon, but couldn't prevail against her determination to get home to Clark as quickly as possible. The reason being Lana Turner who was filming with the King and, though he adored Carole, he had a roving eye and jealousy reared its head in Carole's mind. She knew that fidelity was rare in Hollywood and the casting couch reigned supreme. After all, she herself had reached the pinnacle the same way. Her studio told her she must not fly, A contingent of army personnel were given priority and she was ordered to give up her seat, but she threw her weight around, she was after all a famous movie star, and was permitted to remain on the flight on which she perished.

The author has researched her life so thoroughly, the feel of the book is that he was a witness to everything that went on. All these events happened more than 70 years ago, but it's like it was yesterday. A very well written account of an incredible life and a very enjoyable read.
31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fireball 6 Jan 2014
By S Riaz - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This book is part biography and part the story of a tragic accident, in which actress Carole Lombard and twenty one other people lost their lives. Much of the wreckage of TWA Flight 3, the commercial airliner which crashed on the evening of January 16th, 1942, is still strewn across the side of Mount Potosi in Nevada. The author actually climbed to the crash site and it took him four and a half hours to ascend the steep mountain slope. It can only be imagined how hard it was to mount a rescue mission on that dark night, so long ago.

However, despite so much time passing, the author does a wonderful job in recreating those events – tracking down living eyewitnesses and accounts from people that were there. He tells of how the plane was refuelled at McCarren airfield in Los Vegas, where it took off without problems; heading for the Birbank Air Terminal, where Clark Gable, Lombard’s husband, and the wife of the Hollywood publicist accompanying her, were waiting for the plane. Lombard should not have even been on board, having promised not to fly. As well as being accompanied by publicist Otto Winkler, she was also with her mother – who had made her promise to travel by train, due to her fear of flying. Desperate to get home quickly, Lombard insisted on taking a flight. Her mother, Elizabeth Peters was a student of numerology and begged her not to take the plane. Three was apparently an unlucky number and they were taking Flight , arriving at Indianapolis at 3am, there were three of them flying and her daughter was 33 years and months old... The omens were not good. Once aboard, they were even asked to disembark, to give priority to service personnel; but the actress insisted that she was doing valid war work, travelling the country selling bonds and fundraising for the war effort and they were allowed to re-board.

This book gives you a biography of Carole Lombard, plus gives information on the other passengers. These included a young army wife, going to join her husband, several passengers from the US Army Air Corps Ferrying Command, flying bombers to be delivered overseas and, obviously, the crew. After the accident there was a desperate rescue attempt, in difficult conditions. The book follows what happened, the investigation and asks why the accident happened. It is a very readable account of a tragic event and the author gives an amazingly detailed account of what happened and the people involved.

Lastly, I received a copy of this book, from the publisher, for review.
16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning!! 14 Dec 2013
By Yvonne - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The detail is incredible, but very, very sad. Great book! I highly recommend it.

There are lots of unknown interesting facts.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book about an amazing woman and a terrible tragedy. 8 Jan 2014
By Thomas A. Indelicato - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Mt. Potosi and the crash of TWA Flight 3 has been a casual interest of mine for many years. I would often gaze upon that wall like mountain at the southern end of the western wall of the Las Vegas Valley and wonder about the people whose lives were snuffed out in an instance in time, and question how it could have happened. I wasn't even sure which airport TWA 3 had departed from; North Las Vegas, the airstrip which is now Nellis AFB, or the then McCarran Field, now McCarran Interntional. Robert Matzen's well researched book answers all those questions and more. Included are 16 pages of photos, making things even much clearer to the reader.

But besides the riveting report of the tragedy, this is a fascinating bio of Carole Lombard. She was no piece of fluff. She was a woman of substance who was tough when she needed to be, but kind and unshakably loyal to friends and causes she found worthy of her time and trust. Robert Matzen, for a short time, brings her back to life for the reader and makes us understand why Clark Gable, her 'Pa', though he lived on for many years after her death, never stopped loving or missing Carole, his 'Ma'.
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