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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.

Critic Reviews

“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 Ratings

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Great listen. One of the great books of WWII.

I've listened to many books about flyers in World War II this is one of the best. Give it a listen.

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Honorable

An incredible story of survival and an act of compassion that changed the lives of a handful of men in WWII. The book mostly focuses on Franz Stigler's experiences and the physical and mental toll the war took on him. An excellent piece of WWII history.

On a technical I listened at 1.5 speed

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Great book. A must read.

This is a fantastic book. Definitely a must read. I would recommend it to anyone interested in WW2 history.

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  • Manuel
  • Quantico, VA, United States
  • 12-02-16

Wonderful story

This book changed my view on the German enemy of WW2. Humanity lives in all of us. Cowardice is leaving humanity behind.

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Inspiring Message of the Power of Humanity

War is known and understood for it's cruelty and degradation, and it's impact on everyone's life that is unfortunately touched by it. Occasionally, a true story comes along that shows how individuals have the inner fortitude, courage and power to triumph despite their circumstances. An excellent true story, well written and well read that is highly recommended for anyone looking to remember why this generation of World War II fighters and heroes are the greatest generation that has ever lived.

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This should be a movie

This would make a great movie! Captivating story of chivalry and a good listen. I loved it!

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Great book

This is a great book about the chivalry of pilots in the early stages of World War II.

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Incredible story about incredible people

I had first heard a brief story between Franz and Charlie and wanted to know more. This book does a great job going through there war carriers and time after the war. It gave me goosebumps and chills on several occasions. I can't wait to listen again!

I would recommend this to anyone interested in WWII, aviation or someone looking for a great story.

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Greatest Book on Heroism in Decades

What an amazing and engaging narrative! This book compares to Michael Shaara's The Killer Angels in that it is not only a well written story, but the reader will not look either the Germans or the Americans as the enemy. We have individuals rhat as the story unfolds we vegin to care very much about refardless of which iniform they wear.

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Wow...

No words I can put down would do this tale justice... Harrowing tale of men and machine, and finding ones self in the skies...