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 audiobook is probably one of the very best I have ever listened to. In fact, I would go so far as to say this book is on a par with Laura Hildebrand’s phenomenal book titled Unbroken.
A Higher Call is a true story about two WWII heroes - Second Lieutenant Charlie Brown, who is an Army Air Corps B-17 pilot, and Second Lieutenant Franz Stigler who is a Luftwaffe fighter pilot and one of Germany's most famous Aces.
The story is incredibly well researched and extremely well written, the narration is near perfection.
Listening to this book will be worth every minute of your time, the story and the experience will enrich your life.
If I could rate this book a 10, I would do it in a heartbeat.
This book is a perfect example of a wonderful story waiting to be told. In the hands of a skilled writer, the author disappears and the story stands on its own. Beautifully written and leads the listener courageously through some of the most harrowing moments of the air war.
It was easy to put myself in the position of both pilots and to understand their call to duty. Particularly interesting was the mental preparation each aviator went through before undertaking missions that would reasonably be expected to end in death. Hard to imagine doing so day after day.
The reunion of the aviators at the Boeing plant at the 50th anniversary of the B-17. The emotions shared by the survivors moved me greatly.
The book easily breaks into two or three listening sessions since the author approaches the story first from the German side, then from the American side, and finally to the reconnection and reconciliation of the two sides.
This was an unusual read for me. I am not a big fan of war stories. This story was epic in its display of courage, valor and honor. It was both inspiration and humbling.
One of the best books that I have read. Fantastic story. Once I started listening to the audiobook it was hard to stop. My wife and teenage boys also loved the audiobook.
"The two most important days of your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why" Mark Twain
A Higher Call is one of those inspiring stories that makes you want to be a better person. World War II brought about some of the most unthinkable actions of pure evil mankind has ever seen - and yet amongst such atrocities, decency and valor and good will still shone through in the actions of men from both sides of the war. This is one of those stories.
This book brought tears to my eyes. And for a man's man who stinks at showing emotion like me - that's saying something. Phenomenal book.
I love WWII stories, and this is one of the best I have read. Even though I knew the thread of the story before I started the book, I was captivated as the story unfolded. My faith in humanity has been restored.
The reunion of these two pilots was truly a moving part of the book. It's disturbing that some people were bothered by this development.
Say something about yourself!
Read it for yourself. I enjoyed discovering how this came to be told and then the people were unfolded. There were times when I felt like I was with them. It made me laugh and cry.
The aircraft called "the Pub" was just spell binding.
I am an avid eclectic reader.
This is the story of Franz Stigler, a German fighter pilot and Charlie Brown a B17 Eighth Air Force pilot. It is the fascinating story of how their lives intersected in December 1943 permanently altering their lives. I found this an emotional book with a similar effect on me as Laura Hildebrand's "Unbroken". It left me feeling good about people. Most of the book is about Franz Stilger's life as a child, young man and pilot commercial then military. He was a German ace and later flew the jet planes over Germany. It also covered the men of the B17 and then their hunt for each other after the war. I noted that long after the war the crew of the B17 "Ye Old Pub" received their metals- Brown, the Air Force flying Cross and the silver star for each of the crew making them the highest decorated B17 crew. Adam Makos is the editor of the military magazine Valor and came across this story during interviews with WWII pilots. He brought to life the story of a man, the air battles, the thrill of flying and the fear of living in Nazi Germany. I am sure glad he wrote the story as a book. Robertson Dean did a great job reading this book. This book is not only for us WWI and WWII history buff but for any teen or adult that is looking for a good story with moral value.
WWII from an entirely different perspective. Enthralling read, perfect narration. The author's research is unbelievable. Makes one wonder if Makos has been contacted by Hollywood for a movie. I hope so on one hand, but on the other, screenplays quite often water down the content far too much and part of the joy of this book is the detail presented on a closely knit time-line. In any case, I acquired a much different perspective on German military sensibilities during that era as a result of this great history lesson.
WB from Athens
I cannot find the words to describe how much I loved this story. Just finished it yesterday and still in awe of the men and their actions. I happened upon this story after reading a CNN article describing the basis of the book, then decided to check it out in Audible. Although not my typical read, I gave it a try and am so very thankful I did!
Going into the story, you know the high points and premise, but you do not know the back story and all that transpired prior to that fateful day. You get to live in each man's life as they first began their careers in the military, seeing and feeling what they experienced. As the days and months go by you learn about the core of each man and a basis for honor and duty that transcends simple words on a page. All leads up to the moment when they first met, completely unaware of the destiny awaiting them.
I cannot recommend this book more! The story is well researched and put together, with consideration and respect for all that lived it. The narrator was exceptional and brought the book to life. As I said in the beginning - I'm in awe of these gentlemen. After the book, please also look up the additional content on the author's site but I recommend you do this after finishing the book. Get to know Franz and Charlie as they were as young men, then watch videos of them after meeting for the first as old men (technically their second meeting). You will cry and the tears are out of respect, joy, and honor.
This book captures many aspects of a different time, which is slowly fading from our consciousness. It was thrilling to experience such a vivid picture of the air war.
I was particularly impressed by all of the information on what it was like to be a German, and a German pilot, during the war.
I hope someone does make a film. I would say that it is a story of two pilots whose path cross during the war, and again after the war.
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