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 is a remarkable book. The story is at once inspiring and conflicting. The history undertones are significant and helpful in understanding what was happening in Germany under Hitler.
The book is well written and informative as well as very interesting.
Equally important, the performance is top notch. When listening while driving, I found myself lingering in my vehicle to continue to listen, even though I had reached my destination.
Honorable men were sent to war to fight for their countries. They fought to protect their family and neighbors. This story gives a look at the perspective from each side. I highly recommend this book. It doesn't apologize for war or killing or glamorize it in any way. It captures the stories of heroes on both sides of the conflict.
I was enraptured from beginning to end. I was mystified about halfway through when the story of the actual event was told, and wondered then how the rest of the book could be filled. But not to worry, there was plenty of good stuff to say. The last chapter had me weeping— for various reasons that I won't elaborate lest I spoil it for others.
If you read WW2 non-fiction of any type get this now.
Perspective from the German fighter pilot point of you is phenomenal. The pacing of the story reads like fiction.
The connection over the years after the war, heart warming.
Please somebody make the movie
I am a Christian wife and mother. I write two blogs. My somewhat theological blog is called "Just Another Clay Pot," and my Fiction/Poetry blog is called "Weightiness and Whimsy."
What a beautiful story...so glad it didn't remain "classified" forever!
I love biographies which inspire me to want to be a better person. This story of courageous kindness in a time of madness certainly fits that description. That anyone could suffer what these men suffered and still maintain good hearts is amazing. But they did, as their actions proved.
The narration ranged from "adequate" to "good," with the lower marks for the unfortunate attempts at German accents. But I'm very finicky about accents, and others might not find it distracting as I occasionally did.
I can certainly recommend this book as a valuable addition not only to WWII history, but to human history. It's gritty and real, but warm and inspiring, too. That's quite an achievement.
This book is unique because it tells the story from two perspectives. An American bomber pilot and a German fighter pilot. It reveals much about the U.S. Air Force and German Luftwaffe, it's pilots and the triumphs and hardships they experienced during the war. And of course, the incredible story of these two men's first meeting...
This is tough to answer. Obviously the story about the "encounter" is gripping and extraordinary. I appreciate the author sharing both men's stories. Especially detailing the experiences of Franz Stigler during the war. I suspect Mr. Brown was less open about his experiences and his encounter with a sympathetic German pilot was one the few memories he did not want to forget... Whereas Mr. Stigler seemed more open to share his experiences. Most Americans (myself included) know little or nothing about the German Luftwaffe and it's pilots. Very intriguing.
I have not listened to any of Robertson Dean's other book performances. However, his performance was so good, any decision to purchase an audiobook would be made much easier knowing he is narrating.
Of course, the encounter of Franz Stigler and Charlie Brown in the skies above Germany.
I so enjoyed this book, I've listened to it three times. The book was extremely very well written and narrated. What an experience it must have been for Adam Makos to have had the privilege of interviewing both of these fine men!
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