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)
The underlining chivalry of the two soldiers. Being a former US Soldier stationed in Germany I totally understood what the author was talking about. In fact I had the wonderful opportunity while in Germany to train with the Germany Army and I was awarded a German Shootsner(bronze). What an awesome experience and the German's were wonderful! Very respectful to me an American, treated me like royalty.
To many to list just one. There were two moments that will just grab you specifically. First when the two pilots first meet. And second, was when they meet after the war.
Charlie was, just because of his sense of loyalty to his men. Just an incredible man.
Just to many to name just one.
Yes, absolutely! This is a must read for any American. This exemplifies what it has taken to remain a free country. One must always remember, Hitler was trying his best to strike America. Since WWII we have continued to have wars, the World Trade Centers have been brought down(albeit by cowards). America can never rest, we ARE the shinning light of the world. It is well documented throughout history.
The best education I've received is Self education.
Honor above all
It was a great story on both sides. Learning more about the German soldiers is remarkable. To learn just what these young men went through is humbling.
Robertson Dean is a great story teller and quickly becoming one of my favorites. If you like WWII aviation stories you need to Listen or buy Masters of the Air.
The Beginning to the End.
This is by far the absolute best book that I have ever listened to so far.....(I am a long time member with over 100 books in my library.....
Toss up between Frans and Charlie - but more Frans
Several parts during the air battle with Frans and Charlie - but the ending moved me to tears.. I listen while driving and I just about had to pull over it was becoming difficult to see the road...
The historical facts opened my eyes to the fact there is a big difference between German soldiers and the Party members.... I'm from Dutch descent and up until now I had not realized how much Germany suffered under Hitler's reign.
I haven't read the print version
It strengthened my belief that in the worst of circumstances humanity can overcome evil and just one act can have profound effects for generations to come.
A huge amount of history of WWII, the German people, and pilots on both sides of the war I had not known. The story brings out humanity in the most horrid nightmare for so many millions of people. A wonderful experience. Well written and narrated.
Many excellent books have been written on WW II but this one must be considered one of the best! Adam Makos has done a superior job of research then delivered a story that delivers both intellectually and emotionally!
This story reminds us of what honor and nobility are even during the horrors of war. It also offers rare insight into the regular (and in many ways not so regular) combatants that were on the losing side. This story makes the reader realize how tragic WW II was for so many on both sides, what sacrifices were made, and what heroics occurred.
Makos tells a very personal story and, in doing so, offers a unique perspective on the key events of the war through the eyes of those doing the fighting. If you have to select a single book that offers insight into the historical significance of the war, one that will be a very compelling read, this is where to go!
I always love learning more about WW11 especially from the personal relationships shared during this pertinent time of our countries history. Great book.
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.
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