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)
Excellent story and wonderful insight into the life of a German pilot including the challenges faced by those loyal to their country but conflicted by the actions of their leaders.
I was really pleased to have read this book because while I know there was a difference between Germans and Nazis I wasn't able to separate the two very well before this book. This book really opened my eyes to the bravery and courage of those fighting for their country, Germany and NOT the Nazis. Such a wonderful story about how there are good people everywhere. I loved this perspective and I think the author did a wonderful job of balancing the American and German perspectives without demonizing either side - a difficult thing to do in my opinion.
Definitely worth the read!
Told a story of WWII that I has never heard before. I'm not a huge history fanatic, so some people may not be as surprised as I was to learn of the chivalry and common decency of the German air force in WWII. This is a truly enjoyable story , and well told from both sides.
I cried and laughed and felt like I was with them both.
War is terrible. To fight for ones country is fighting for your family, friends, and loved ones.
This true story tore my heart out in so many ways, but I loved all of it.
Duty, Chivalry and Courage
Soldat by Siegfried Knappe because of the in-depth recollection and storytelling of the wartime service of a German soldier.
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand because you get the same sense of dread every time a bomber crew took off on a mission.
This is a must read (listen to) for any WWII history buff. This is an excellent source of information into the lives of a German fighter pilot and an American B-17 pilot. While the story focuses primarily on Franz Stigler, you still get an good story for Charlie Brown and his crew as well. I was pleasantly surprised at the detailed recollections of Franz Stigler and Charlie Brown and how their stories interwove. Both stories were captivating. Really, though, the "escort" part of the book (as depicted on the cover) was only a minor part of the story...probably the most interesting part, but that was not the climax of the book. The writing was such that you got a real sense of the stress these men faced on a daily basis. Descriptions made it feel as if you were in the heat of the desert or freezing at 30,000 ft. You felt the tension of having to go up on another bomb run over German, or diving in the Bf-109 towards the enemy bomber formation. Adam Makos' research really pays off in his writing. This book is definitely worth your time and money. A MUST READ!!!!
I read Unbreakable by Laura Hillenbrand and thought it was a great book. I was looking for something else that might be similar and I stumbled upon this and was not disappointed. This book is incredible and I use that word because had it been a novel, it would not have been believable. The story's focal point is the encounter between a German fighter ace and a young B-17 pilot on his first bombing mission over Germany. The author does eight years of research on the pilots involved and weaves a tale that is not only informative, but exciting and inspiring as well. In order for the reader to appreciate the full story of the one time encounter, ten minutes long, the author creates a context that gives the pilots' background and aviation experience. I loved the story and am very appreciative of the author keeping this event alive. In a world of violence and criminal evil, it is nice to read of decent men with ethics and morality that transcend their own time and place. I gave the performance only four stars. The narrator did a good job with the material and interpreted the voices of the characters nicely. There were times that his breathing was distracting. This surprised me as most of the narrators Audible or the publishers use somehow take out that distracting inhaling. It's not there the entire time, which is why I was even more surprised as to how the director let this slip through. But don't let that keep you from purchasing this book, the story more than makes up for a careless narrator.
Robertson Dean was very talented and added realism of narrative voice to Franz with a believable German accent.
The moving meeting under the B17 42 years later.
His performance couldn't have been improved - Flawless execution.
Great story. Great read. Great reader.
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