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 didn't read the print version.
The in-depth background given most of the characters and the timeline of the air battles related to the ground war and political feeling in each country.
The German jet fighter.
Yes, I drove around town and took the long way to finish a chapter. I listened with earbuds while I was hand sewing.
Everyone would enjoy this story but especially relatives of B-17 pilots and crew.
Makos starts out by admitting he never knew there could be anything such as a “good German.” But once he heard this story of chivalry in the skies, he couldn’t ignore it.The main incident occurs halfway through the book so it could be argued that the rest is just “filler,” which would only be partially true. Although much of the background information was stretched out to prolong the narrative, the reader learns a lot of fascinating details about the German Luftwaffe. To tell the truth, the German soldier's story (2nd Lieutenant Franz Stigler) is more interesting than the American’s (2nd Lieutenant Charlie Brown). Another intriguing fact brought out in the book was that the Catholic Church initially took a strong stand against Nazism. (According to the movie, Amen., they waffled on that later.) Although the writing was average, the narration was well done and the conclusion inspiring.
This book took such a unique view of World War II; showing the perspective of a German soldier was extremely fascinating and helped me understand how the German citizens may have felt during Hitler's reign.
Definitely a fascinating and eye-opening read.
Increasing my ops tempo by allowing storytellers to whisper in my ear(buds).
I have rarely encountered a book with sections so disparate in quality. At first the book is dispassionate; a mere assemblage of biographical anecdotes with all the insight and passion of a High School research paper. Then something happens. The people to whom we have been introduced—and who seem like so many stick figures for all the humanity that had been associated with their early exploits—come vibrantly to life. When the air war heats up for these pilots, the writers suddenly gain empathy for them and the scenes in the air take of the feeling of grand drama. The book continues in this fashion, flip-flopping between lackluster factual accounts and gripping high drama; sometimes it is brilliant and engaging then it degenerates into a description of the sad state of Germany under the Nazi regime. Later it again will become immediate, personal and exciting, and even rises into moments of insight and poignancy. One constant theme of the book is the sense of honor that inhabits the pilots on both sides of the conflict embodied in the statement, “A man must only answer to God and our comrades.”
Robertson Dean is wonderful in this non-fiction account. When the account requires drama Dean pulls out his repertoire of character voices and can hold the tension during the battle scenes masterfully.
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.
If this were fiction, I'd have to say it was a little implausible. Being a true story, It's amazing. I think it's amazing that the incident occurred in the first place, and secondly that they were able to resolve it so many years later as they did.
It was interesting to see two opposing sides but not necessarily two opposing conclusions.
I think the story of these men shows there are good, noble people all over the world and that there are more than two sides to every story.
A worthwhile listen.
Yes, and I am not normally a war stories fan- that would be my husband. But this story, or both stories, put a human face on so many aspects of this war that I got all caught up in the story- and it's a true story on top of everything else, too!
Not to spoil it, but when he walked past the Nazis at the end of the war and everyone pretended to be blind to each other. Or maybe when you listened to him go through what we'd now call PTSD episodes and just have to live with it. Or maybe the absolute joy he found in flying....
All of them.
Not a war story fan? Get it anyways, it's a terrific story.
Yes: Besides the action built in to nearly every minute, there is the moral, human, and personal elements of war presented in a way that requires the reader to think about his or her own condition. This story is so improbable, yet its truth is indisputable. I would love to see this book made into a movie as a way to present to a larger audience one story of the moral conflict that so many faced during WWII and wars preceding and following it. Buy it, you will not regret this purchase.
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.
Enlightening masterful engaging
History of the German air war through the eyes of an ace. Never realized that the Nazi's were really a minority party and you didn't have to be a Nazi to be a warrior.
He's just awesome. Such emotion and perfect timing.
The end - vey emotional.
I can't get this out of my head! Spectacular.
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