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)
Reader and long-distance commuter.
Getting to know people, decent people. Not all of our enemies were monsters.
The book is basically a biography of Franz Stigler.
Excellent voice adaptations for different characters.
Of course! The incredible incident that occurred over Germany.
This book is history at the lowest level. We see how some of our enemies were not monsters, but were people with values much like our own. I am continually surprised at the stories that come out of WW 2. Perhaps it is true of any war -- if we dig deep enough, we find humanity.
Christian Colburn West Chester, PA
Listened to the book in 4 days. Hated having to turn it off. Fantastic listen,
Dr. Jim Fox -- Former College Professor and Mental Health Therapist
Absolutely! Not only my friends, but everyone should listen to this book. We often forget that Hitler came to power with only 44% of the vote. Not every German was a member of the party and not all were part of the "Final Solution." Many Germans fought for country -- not for the Nazi party or ideology.
"Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery" by Metaxas
Hard to say: both the American pilot Charlie and the German pilot Fritz were convincing characters.
When the two pilots finally meet 40+ years later.
concerned for the Republic
Many non-fiction works focusing on WWII center on battles and troop movements, and this book, of course, contains those elements, but the main idea the listener is left with is the personal story behind two men who were on opposite sides of the conflict. In particular, it was interesting to have a view of the inner workings of the German air groups, and their surprising attitudes toward and dislike of Hitler and his suppression of all voices critical of him. Information was tightly controlled, and no dissent was tolerated. Spies were everywhere, and execution was the punishment for even joking about Hitler.
I think the German pilot, Franz, was the most intriguing character. His reasons for not shooting down the American pilot when it was to his benefit to do so are thought provoking.
Just a really enjoyable, but not necessarily relaxing, listening experience.
Yes. You learn a lot about German and American Air Force during the war.
No I do not normally listen to books twice.
It was just a great story and it shows how one decision affects generations.
Near the top.
No Simple Victory. They both give an unconventional view of World War II. Most books in English focus, understandably, on the USA and Britain. However, these two books provide a different view.
An enhanced emotional appeal.
I found it very emotional.
One of the best books I have purchased. I very highly recommend it to everyone.
The backgrounds of the principal characters are fascinating and the in-depth history lesson that goes along with their gut-wrenching war years brings the men alive.
It made me a little sad; the impact of being thrust into such horrendous situations so early in life had to be profound. Yet it had a wonderful ending.
Seeing the war from a different perspective
As is always the case with an audiobook, the narrator makes the book come alive. Robertson Dean was magnificent.
Well written and expertly read
I enjoyed learning about the day to day lives of the characters as well as their combat experiences. It was the manner in which the story unfolded, bit by bit that kept me on the edge of my seat, always wanting to hear what is next.
The absolute best though was the reunion, how it came about, how they each felt that was the high point in the story for me.
One final thought, my thoughts are also on Franz Steigler's parents, they are the reason he became the man he did!
I don't know that listening to Robertson Dean was better than reading it myself. I can say he did a masterful job and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to him!
I must admit to choking up listening to their reunion
WONDERFUL read, particularly for WWII buffs, but also for anyone who enjoys a good human interest story!
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