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)
I am the most amazing version of myself that I have ever met.
A Higher Call is one of those inspiring stories that makes you want to be a better person. World War II brought about some of the most unthinkable actions of pure evil mankind has ever seen - and yet amongst such atrocities, decency and valor and good will still shone through in the actions of men from both sides of the war. This is one of those stories.
This book brought tears to my eyes. And for a man's man who stinks at showing emotion like me - that's saying something. Phenomenal book.
This was a fascinating recounting of the actions of a German ace pilot and his seemingly inexplicable actions in assisting a disabled American B-17 bomber piloted by a 21-year-old farmboy to return to England after a bombing run.
Meticulously researched, this true story weaves the lives of the "average men" doing their jobs in the time of war, men who are fighting for their families and their country and who recognized that the man in the other plane is a human being and one could respect the courage of the other.
Don't miss this if you are a fan of World War II History.
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).
WB from Athens
I cannot find the words to describe how much I loved this story. Just finished it yesterday and still in awe of the men and their actions. I happened upon this story after reading a CNN article describing the basis of the book, then decided to check it out in Audible. Although not my typical read, I gave it a try and am so very thankful I did!
Going into the story, you know the high points and premise, but you do not know the back story and all that transpired prior to that fateful day. You get to live in each man's life as they first began their careers in the military, seeing and feeling what they experienced. As the days and months go by you learn about the core of each man and a basis for honor and duty that transcends simple words on a page. All leads up to the moment when they first met, completely unaware of the destiny awaiting them.
I cannot recommend this book more! The story is well researched and put together, with consideration and respect for all that lived it. The narrator was exceptional and brought the book to life. As I said in the beginning - I'm in awe of these gentlemen. After the book, please also look up the additional content on the author's site but I recommend you do this after finishing the book. Get to know Franz and Charlie as they were as young men, then watch videos of them after meeting for the first as old men (technically their second meeting). You will cry and the tears are out of respect, joy, and honor.
The most enjoyable aspect of the book was the suspense during aerial combat and the accounts of bravery and daring in the face of almost certain death.
What I liked most about the story is the relationship forged by these two warriors and the bond they shared. If only the same chivalrous conduct existed in today's discourse. Where are all the gentlemen gone.
My favorite scene was the near demise of the crew of "Ye Olde Pub" and it subsequent rescue.
I was particularly moved by Franz and Charlie's initial meeting in person and later the reunion with members of the crew along with Franz
I highly recommend this audio-book to any aviation enthusiasts. You will not be disappointed.
Tell us about yourself!
While the book was really a history lesson on the German Airforce during WWII thru the eyes of an ace pilot - the second part of the story - saving a bomber was a nice bonus.
There are a number of audiobooks that I could not stop listening to, and I have indicate as such in my reviews. But, this story was unbelievable. I really thought that I would be hearing mostly about an American pilot, but it was more about the German fight ace. Without spoiling the story, I was very taken aback by German fighter pilot's honor, what post-war Germany was like for them, and the fact that although they love the father land -most of them hated the Nazi party. During the war they were heros and afterwards were considered the lowest of the low. Enjoy
Well told, well read, and fascinating on so many levels, a "Higher Call" relates in page turning fashion the men behind the oxygen masks in combat aircraft during WWII. My husband, a naval aviator during VN, was captivated by the details of the flying as well as the human side of the men piloting the aircraft. After listening to this in its entirety, it's hard not to believe in miracles, purpose, and guidance in our lives. Informative, inspiring, entertaining---what else could we want in an audio book?
Great story of integrity doing the right thing in the face of danger and hardship. Amazing story that is History!
I have always been a fan of historical novels, but usually I steered away from ones about WWII. For me it was clear, there were good guys and bad guys and I knew exactly who was who in that war. However, I was wrong. This book changed my point of view. Not drastically, but enough that it gave me pause. Who were the German pilots? Why did they fly? Were they all nazis who blindly followed the "party" or did they have thoughts of their own? Did they have a code of conduct, acknowledge the Geneva Convention or was the goal to just shoot down as many planes as they could? What happened to them after the war?
This book was very addictive. I looked forward to each chapter and loved how the story isn't told from the "American's" point of view, this isn't his story. That isn't what it is about. This story is about find the human being, the person, behind the term Luftwasse and what it means to serve a "higher call".
My one regret isn't for me, but for the author. There is moment in the book where he talks about seeing a German pilot at an airshow and how the man was somewhat shunned, and how he didn't go up and speak to him. I regret that he did not. That man probably had stories of his own to tell; Stories that he would have liked to share with someone, a dignity that should have been recognized. I would like to have heard his story as well. Ah well, what is missed is missed and the only the wind hears its song.
This is a good story, and I recommend it.
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