Four days before Christmas in 1943, a badly damaged American bomber struggled to fly over wartime Germany. At its controls was a 21-year-old pilot. Half his crew lay wounded or dead. It was their first mission. Suddenly a sleek, dark shape pulled up on the bomber’s tail - a German Messerschmitt fighter. Worse, the German pilot was an ace, a man able to destroy the American bomber with the squeeze of a trigger. What happened next would defy imagination and later be called the most incredible encounter between enemies in World War II.
This is the true story of the two pilots whose lives collided in the skies that day - the American - Second Lieutenant Charlie Brown, a former farm boy from West Virginia who came to captain a B-17 - and the German - Second Lieutenant Franz Stigler, a former airline pilot from Bavaria who sought to avoid fighting in World War II.
A Higher Call follows both Charlie and Franz’s harrowing missions. Charlie would face takeoffs in English fog over the flaming wreckage of his buddies’ planes, flak bursts so close they would light his cockpit, and packs of enemy fighters that would circle his plane like sharks. Franz would face sandstorms in the desert, a crash alone at sea, and the spectacle of one thousand bombers, each with eleven guns, waiting for his attack.
Ultimately, Charlie and Franz would stare across the frozen skies at one another. What happened between them, the American Eighth Air Force would later classify as top secret. It was an act that Franz could never mention without facing a firing squad. It was the encounter that would haunt both Charlie and Franz for 40 years until, as old men, they would search for one another, a last mission that could change their lives forever.
©2012 Adam Makos (P)2013 Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
“This book grips you like a movie. It’s part Top Gun, part Valkyrie, and more!”(Marcus Brotherton, New York Times best-selling author
“It is often said that ‘war is hell’ - and it is - however, this story reveals how the human spirit can shine in the darkest hours. A Higher Call is an eye-opener.” (Col. Charles McGee, Tuskegee Airman, WWII)
“‘Can good men be found on both sides of a bad war?’ The author asks the question and delivers the answer. A powerful, haunting read.” (Chuck Tatum, author of Red Blood, Black Sand)
Top ten for sure. I'll be recommending it to everyone I can!
Lone Survivor - another harrowing true account, although a VERY different type of story and type of war. But both leave you breathless
He's very steady, almost calming. You feel like your Grandpa is telling you a story, and just feel at ease, even in the tense parts. His accents are well done and his intonation is spot on. Great performance!
Each of the battle sequences were impossible to turn off. I would sit in my car ( I listen on commutes) for up to an hour, sometimes in horrible southern Louisiana heat!, just to finish that particular episode. Knowing it was a true story, and listening to what these men went through, was just incredible
My husband and I are both in the Navy, my husband is special forces and has seen much more combat than I ever will. This story though, is more than either of us could ever dream. It's a world in the past, WWII era, and the story brings it to life in a new way. You come to understand how the fighters on both sides were feeling, how they and the civilians suffered. All with heroism, adventure, and humility along the way. An absolutely incredible book that I will never forget.
This book and the story it tells are just amazing. While it is a book about WW2 and it doesn't doesn't pull punches about the horrors, it is not so much a good guys vs. bad guys story as it is a story about two men whose lives intersected in the sky over Germany, how they survived the war, and how they found each other much later. It is a book for anyone interested in the war or in flying, but even more, it is a powerful study of human spirit.
This is one of the last great un-heard stories of WWII. The author does an impressive job introducing us to the two main characters early on in the story and then proceeds to intertwine other characters and side stories while still maintaining the focus on the two pilots. I also liked to prespective from Germans against the Nazi party as WWII was ramping up.
This is a must listen to anyone who enjoyed Unbroken.
As always Robertson Dean's narration was spot on!
Say something about yourself!
Read it for yourself. I enjoyed discovering how this came to be told and then the people were unfolded. There were times when I felt like I was with them. It made me laugh and cry.
The aircraft called "the Pub" was just spell binding.
WWII from an entirely different perspective. Enthralling read, perfect narration. The author's research is unbelievable. Makes one wonder if Makos has been contacted by Hollywood for a movie. I hope so on one hand, but on the other, screenplays quite often water down the content far too much and part of the joy of this book is the detail presented on a closely knit time-line. In any case, I acquired a much different perspective on German military sensibilities during that era as a result of this great history lesson.
audio addict! Mostly interested in history and some historical fiction. Will Durant is my all time favorite. Loving the Great Courses too.
Thank you Adam Makos for writing this book! From a young age, I saw WWII Germans as the really bad guys. As I grow older, I still struggle with these feelings about the citizens of Nazi Germany, which causes a lack of empathy about their loss and suffering.
The author of this book felt the same way when he started his correspondence with a United States WWII pilot, Charlie Brown, the Captain of a B17 bomber. Charlie had an exceptional story from his time flying the B17 bomber over Germany. The caveat was that before Charlie would tell his story, he wanted the author to first speak with Franz Stigler, a Bavarian fighter pilot for Germany during WWII, now living in Canada.
The story that is told in this book is just breathtaking, heartbreaking, and utterly compelling. I was absorbed in every second of this book, finishing it in one sitting and wanting more!
The pilots fighting for Germany were not allowed to be affiliated with a political party. Though I'm sure many were National Socialists (Nazis), there were many who despised the changes brought by the Nazi Regime. The story of Franz Stigler is fascinating and important; it demonstrates the humanity of the "enemy". The strange relationship between Charlie and Franz is so touching and beautiful.
Best book of the year! Don't hesitate to buy this one!!
I have to admit that when I heard the introduction to this book, I was about ready to turn it off. The author's story of how he came to write it and, especially, his belief at the time the base story came to light that all German's were Nazi's in WWII left me wondering whether this could be a good listen. However, I soon forgot any misgivings and found myself immersed in the story, especially Franz's side.
The brief central story is compelling, but it's the background stories that are the most interesting. I have read other books about the air war over Europe, but learned from this book a great deal about how the air war evolved from the pilot's point of view.
I won't give out any spoilers, but this is a very interesting book that is well worth your time. I gave the "story" a 5, not because of it's prose, but because of the information it contains. The writing is fine (basically it's reporting) and the pace of the book and organization are spot on. There is an element that is overplayed in the writing, but it's not so over the top to detract from your enjoyment (I'll leave it to you to figure out what I am talking about).
This novel is centered around a remarkable incident that lasted all of 20 minutes, but the story of what lead up to this tremendous act of chivalry and its aftermath are equally remarkable. The book mainly follows the life of ace Luftwaffe pilot Franz Stegler who would be worthy of a novel had the incident never occurred. The story goes into many technical aspects of both the allied and German planes to help explain the challenges of these opposing forces, and if you're not technically minded, this could be a minus. I'm not terribly technical myself, but found it all very engaging. The book is well balanced with many lighter moments as well, as when Franz adopts a bear whom he takes along as a drinking companion to the local pub. I've read many WWII novels, and this is one of the cream of the crop.
Wonderfully written and researched. The narrator hits it perfectly. I listened pretty much non stop for two days.
The description of the German Fighter pilot letting the American pilot and crew live to fight on another day.
If you listen to podcasts check out the John Batchelor Show May 25, 2015 hour 4. The podcast makes you decide quickly that you want to experience this novel.
I am not really great with reviews since I like everything and suspend reality quickly but I do it anyways. Umpire and classic books yay
The introduction to this book is interesting. The author talks about how he started by interviewing World War II veterans for his school magazine and it took off from there. He did not, under any circumstances, wish to interview anybody who fought for the Germans though, as this was an American publication and he felt there was no good that could ever come from the Nazi side of the war. Little did he know about Franz Stigler. Charlie Brown, a pilot spared from destruction by this WWII ace, told the author that if he wanted his story, he had to interview Franz Stigler first and get his story.
The incident which drew me to this book in the first place is about half way through the book. It is a poignant moment but greater things are left to come. The story of Stigler is fascinating. The story of Charlie Brown is ok but to get inside the German war machine from a reluctant cog makes for great reading and a very touching ending. I would listen to it again.
Towards the end when Stigler becomes a jet pilot makes for some of the best moments in the book.
The Franz Stigler Story: The Ace of Humanity
This book is powerful in that it shows that the enemy isn't the propaganda that is being sold to us, they are people with loyalty and families just like us who want to do what is best for them. If we could all have the sensibility of Stigler and Brown, who all these years after the incident are incredible friends the world would be a much better place.
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