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 purchased this book quite a few months ago and just never got around to listening to it until this past week. Once I started listening to it I just couldn't put it down. The story is incredibly compelling and the narration is spot on with easy transitions to a very understandable German accent and back to lend character to the people in this book.
This book is not your typical WWII story. Too often those stories turn the Germans into two dimensional caricatures of real people and hide the internal conflicts that they too went through during the war.
This story does not glorify warfare. It does not glorify killing or death. It does not glorify either the Allied cause or the German cause. It simply tells the story of real people on both sides of a war. You will feel heartache for the losses of both the American bomber crew and the German pilots. You will find yourself cheering for the bomber crew to make it home, and for the German pilots to find a way to survive to the end of the war.
Sitting here today writing this I can't begin to tell you how happy I am that I picked up this audiobook and listened to it. This book is going to be a favorite of mine time and again in the future.
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 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.
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!
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 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.
Loved the true stories and adventures in this book and learned a lot about the US and German WWII Airforces; it reminded me a bit of "Unbroken: A WWII Story...". The narrator was PERFECT too! Recommended it to all my friends :-).
I hear voices. But maybe that's because there's always an Audible book in my ear.
This book does a great job of bringing together the lives of two men who were supposed to be enemies. It's a really good look at humanity at its finest - particularly when the men are in a brutal situation. It also provides an inside look on WWII pilots and programs that's really interesting.
The fact-written-as-fiction aspect makes it similar to "Unbroken" - though this book lacks the edge-of-your-seat suspense. I'd recommend this book to someone who loves WWII history and consumes a ton of books a year. If you only have time to listen to a few books, there are others in this genre that I think are more rewarding.
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