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)
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.
This book is very well-written and narrated. I was very impressed with it and came away weighing things about it for many days. Though this is a non-fiction book, I just read about some similar things in the semi-autobiographical fiction book "Legion of Doom," by Sven Hassel. That book had many instances of German soldiers risking their lives to go have a swim with Russian soldiers who were also risking their lives- just to be human for an hour and forget the war. I'm very intrigued by stories like this and "A Higher Call," is a huge story like this.
Excellent writing in every respect.
This is the first Robertson Dean book I've listened to, he is excellent.
Yes - a wonderful book
I have read and listened to many historical books and accounts from WWII from all sides of the war. Few have come close this incredible story. It is a must read!
An amazing story of good men and great pilots in the the war torn skys of WWII. I love this book. So incredible.
One of the very best WWII books ever. Franz & Charlie are destined to meet. It occurs for ten minutes on the northwestern corner of Europe. The conditions are truly unbelievable. What happens, why it happens and the story of how a B-17 crew and a Me-109 ace get there will thrill and amaze the reader. Absolutely FIVE STARS.
In our current era where it is too easy to hate and assume the worst of people with whom our country is at odds, this is a reminder of choices we can make.
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