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A Higher Call Audiobook

A Higher Call: An Incredible True Story of Combat and Chivalry in the War-Torn Skies of World War II

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Publisher's Summary

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.

What the Critics Say

“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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    Bobmon 09-11-14
    Bobmon 09-11-14
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    "Simply wonderful"

    I purchased this book quite a few months ago and just never got around to listening to it until this past week. Once I started listening to it I just couldn't put it down. The story is incredibly compelling and the narration is spot on with easy transitions to a very understandable German accent and back to lend character to the people in this book.

    This book is not your typical WWII story. Too often those stories turn the Germans into two dimensional caricatures of real people and hide the internal conflicts that they too went through during the war.

    This story does not glorify warfare. It does not glorify killing or death. It does not glorify either the Allied cause or the German cause. It simply tells the story of real people on both sides of a war. You will feel heartache for the losses of both the American bomber crew and the German pilots. You will find yourself cheering for the bomber crew to make it home, and for the German pilots to find a way to survive to the end of the war.

    Sitting here today writing this I can't begin to tell you how happy I am that I picked up this audiobook and listened to it. This book is going to be a favorite of mine time and again in the future.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Katie E. Martens katie 06-03-14
    Katie E. Martens katie 06-03-14 Member Since 2015

    katie

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    "Absolutely unforgettable- riveting!"
    Where does A Higher Call rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Top ten for sure. I'll be recommending it to everyone I can!


    What other book might you compare A Higher Call to and why?

    Lone Survivor - another harrowing true account, although a VERY different type of story and type of war. But both leave you breathless


    What about Robertson Dean’s performance did you like?

    He's very steady, almost calming. You feel like your Grandpa is telling you a story, and just feel at ease, even in the tense parts. His accents are well done and his intonation is spot on. Great performance!


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Each of the battle sequences were impossible to turn off. I would sit in my car ( I listen on commutes) for up to an hour, sometimes in horrible southern Louisiana heat!, just to finish that particular episode. Knowing it was a true story, and listening to what these men went through, was just incredible


    Any additional comments?

    My husband and I are both in the Navy, my husband is special forces and has seen much more combat than I ever will. This story though, is more than either of us could ever dream. It's a world in the past, WWII era, and the story brings it to life in a new way. You come to understand how the fighters on both sides were feeling, how they and the civilians suffered. All with heroism, adventure, and humility along the way. An absolutely incredible book that I will never forget.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brock DONOSTIA-SAN SEBASTIAN, Spain 03-08-14
    Brock DONOSTIA-SAN SEBASTIAN, Spain 03-08-14 Member Since 2015

    So much to learn, and so little time to sit down and read. Thanks Audible.

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    "The ending was awesome"

    I saw this book had received a landslide of amazing reviews, and was eager to listen to it. I also enjoy learning about World War II, so I knew I'd enjoy it. It didn't diappoint me, but it also didn't thrill me like I thought it might. It was no Unbroken, which after reading all the reviews I thought it could be. There are a couple key chapters in the book, and I often found myself wanting to speed it along to these pivotal moments. The book closes with such an amazing wrap up to the story that it leaves a great final impression, and makes you glad you listened to it.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    William Winston Salem, NC, United States 09-07-13
    William Winston Salem, NC, United States 09-07-13
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    "Highest recommendation."

    This book and the story it tells are just amazing. While it is a book about WW2 and it doesn't doesn't pull punches about the horrors, it is not so much a good guys vs. bad guys story as it is a story about two men whose lives intersected in the sky over Germany, how they survived the war, and how they found each other much later. It is a book for anyone interested in the war or in flying, but even more, it is a powerful study of human spirit.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    CBlox Las Vegas, NV 04-01-13
    CBlox Las Vegas, NV 04-01-13 Listener Since 2004
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    "Riveting. Incredible. Heroic."

    This is one of the last great un-heard stories of WWII. The author does an impressive job introducing us to the two main characters early on in the story and then proceeds to intertwine other characters and side stories while still maintaining the focus on the two pilots. I also liked to prespective from Germans against the Nazi party as WWII was ramping up.

    This is a must listen to anyone who enjoyed Unbroken.

    As always Robertson Dean's narration was spot on!

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mary 03-25-13
    Mary 03-25-13 Member Since 2017

    Say something about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "I could not put it down"
    If you could sum up A Higher Call in three words, what would they be?

    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.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of A Higher Call?

    The aircraft called "the Pub" was just spell binding.


    8 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeffrey Austin Texas, United States 03-31-13
    Jeffrey Austin Texas, United States 03-31-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Unusual, could not put it down, fantastic!"

    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.

    7 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Benoibe New Orleans, LA, United States 06-21-13
    Benoibe New Orleans, LA, United States 06-21-13 Member Since 2010

    audio addict! Mostly interested in history and some historical fiction. Will Durant is my all time favorite. Loving the Great Courses too.

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    "Gorgeous!!!! Best of the year! 5+Stars!"

    Thank you Adam Makos for writing this book! From a young age, I saw WWII Germans as the really bad guys. As I grow older, I still struggle with these feelings about the citizens of Nazi Germany, which causes a lack of empathy about their loss and suffering.

    The author of this book felt the same way when he started his correspondence with a United States WWII pilot, Charlie Brown, the Captain of a B17 bomber. Charlie had an exceptional story from his time flying the B17 bomber over Germany. The caveat was that before Charlie would tell his story, he wanted the author to first speak with Franz Stigler, a Bavarian fighter pilot for Germany during WWII, now living in Canada.

    The story that is told in this book is just breathtaking, heartbreaking, and utterly compelling. I was absorbed in every second of this book, finishing it in one sitting and wanting more!

    The pilots fighting for Germany were not allowed to be affiliated with a political party. Though I'm sure many were National Socialists (Nazis), there were many who despised the changes brought by the Nazi Regime. The story of Franz Stigler is fascinating and important; it demonstrates the humanity of the "enemy". The strange relationship between Charlie and Franz is so touching and beautiful.

    Best book of the year! Don't hesitate to buy this one!!

    9 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Fletch South Carolina 04-08-13
    Fletch South Carolina 04-08-13
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    "Chivalry is just the beginning"

    I have to admit that when I heard the introduction to this book, I was about ready to turn it off. The author's story of how he came to write it and, especially, his belief at the time the base story came to light that all German's were Nazi's in WWII left me wondering whether this could be a good listen. However, I soon forgot any misgivings and found myself immersed in the story, especially Franz's side.

    The brief central story is compelling, but it's the background stories that are the most interesting. I have read other books about the air war over Europe, but learned from this book a great deal about how the air war evolved from the pilot's point of view.

    I won't give out any spoilers, but this is a very interesting book that is well worth your time. I gave the "story" a 5, not because of it's prose, but because of the information it contains. The writing is fine (basically it's reporting) and the pace of the book and organization are spot on. There is an element that is overplayed in the writing, but it's not so over the top to detract from your enjoyment (I'll leave it to you to figure out what I am talking about).

    6 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Blythe California 02-27-16
    Blythe California 02-27-16 Member Since 2012
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    "Fascinating true story of Germans opposing Hitler"
    What did you love best about A Higher Call?

    It's a point of view rarely told, about the incredibly brave Germans who did try to oppose the incoming Nazi regime.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The book is framed by the remarkable true story of an American bomber crew whose lives were saved by German fighter pilot Franz Stigler, who escorted their very damaged plane home across enemy lines. While this story is just a small part of the book, it is no less amazing and extremely touching.


    Any additional comments?

    Nominally the true story of how a German fighter pilot risked courtmartial to help a damaged American bomber get home alive during WWII, but also an amazing history of the German airforce during WWII told through the memory of that German pilot, Franz Stigler. I've read a fair bit about WWII and particularly the airforce but listening to this audiobook made me realize that I'd never heard anything about the German side of it, only the allied side.

    The book describes how the German Luftwaffe was opposed to the Nazi party - a group of them "mutinied" against Göering and were almost executed because of it - no member of the German airforce except the commander Göering himself was ever convicted of a war crime - and how many pilots would go out of their way to try and ensure that downed allied pilots were captured by the air force and did not fall into the hands of the SS.

    Through Stigler's history the author paints a picture of the increasing desperation of the air force trying to protect German cities against the bombers while Göering simultaneously refused to give them the jets they needed to be effective defense (instead allocating those jets to offensive bombing missions), and how as the war went badly Göering made the air force into scapegoats, blaming them for being cowards and failing to protect Germany, to the point that Stigler was repeatedly refused any work after the war simply because he had been a pilot. Stigler was also member of Germany's "Squadron of Experts", JG-44, who tried in the last months of the war to defend against the bombers with a very few of the newest jets Germany had produced, planes that ran on kerosene and were so poorly manufactured that their parts disintegrated under any stress because Germany no longer had access to metals needed to make durable quality parts.

    The story of Stigler and the American crew is a small part of the story but no less amazing and extremely touching. This really was an incredible window into a little-told part of WWII history, to the point that I plan to buy the paper version of the book also. Highly recommended to anyone with an interest in WWII and/or the Luftwaffe.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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