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

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

4.7 243
by Adam Makos, Larry Alexander
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions


THE NEW YORK TIMES AND INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER

Four days before Christmas 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

See more details below

Overview


THE NEW YORK TIMES AND INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER

Four days before Christmas 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 in 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—2nd Lieutenant Charlie Brown, a former farm boy from West Virginia who came to captain a B-17—and the German—2nd 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 1,000 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 8th Air Force would later classify as “top secret.” It was an act that Franz could never mention or else face a firing squad. It was the encounter that would haunt both Charlie and Franz for forty years until, as old men, they would search for one another, a last mission that could change their lives forever.
 

Read More

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Military historian and aviation enthusiast Makos, along with WWII biographer Alexander (In the Footsteps of the Band of Brothers), delivers a top-notch narrative of the unlikely encounter between one of Germany’s leading fighter aces, Franz Stigler, and the rookie crew of an American bomber in the frigid skies of Germany in December 1943—upon engaging the already damaged American plane, Stigler had mercy on his enemies and escorted them to safety. Building on the events of that encounter, Makos crafts a multifaceted story, relating the career of Stigler from his first taste of combat in North Africa to his final assignment flying jet fighters in the waning battles of the war in Europe. He also follows American Lt. Charlie Brown and his crew through training and to the successful completion of their combat tour in April 1944. Based on thousands of hours of interviews and an evident knowledge of his subject, Makos details the frantic life of the German fighter pilots living on the edge, and the American bomber crews, far from home, fighting to survive. The book is a riveting story of humanity and mercy set against the ghastly backdrop of war. Agent: Greg Johnson, Wordserve Literary Agency. (Jan.)
Library Journal
Mitchell Zuckoff’s Frozen in Time might prompt a desire to learn more about aerial combat and the life of WWII fighter pilots. For those readers, suggest this highly narrative account of German and American fighter pilots and the incredible moment when a sworn enemy did the seemingly unthinkable during war. Franz Stigler was a German fighter ace who was proven, skilled, and deadly. Charlie Brown was a novice pilot, flying a plane with disabled guns and extensive structural damage—a sitting duck. What occurred when the two encountered one another is the stuff of legend. Tracing the biographies of both men, including detailed accounts of Stigler’s career and Charlie’s training, Makos and Alexander create a vivid account of the lives of pilots during the war and recreate with riveting power their combat missions.

(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Reviews
An inspiring dual biography of two World War II airmen against the background of the European air war. In 1943, a severely damaged B-17, returning from a mission over Germany, was intercepted by a Messerschmitt fighter. Instead of finishing off the crippled bomber, the German pilot guided it toward the Channel and sent it on its way to England. Both pilots were still living 60 years later when Makos, editor of the military journal Valor, discovered the story. That single encounter was too short for a book, but Makos and military writer Alexander (Biggest Brother: The Life of Major Dick Winters, the Man Who Led the Band of Brothers, 2005) bring together the stories of the pilots. Franz Stigler was a deeply religious Catholic who loved flying. Already a commercial pilot, he was drafted into the Luftwaffe at the beginning of the war. He served grueling tours in Africa, Italy and Germany, becoming a fighter ace and flying the first jet while watching most of his comrades die as massive bomber formations devastated his nation. Charlie Brown was a West Virginia farm boy who moved from the peacetime National Guard to the Army to the controls of a B-17. Many of his friends died, as well. Serious military buffs may wrinkle their noses at the energetically nonpartisan tone--all the Luftwaffe pilots hated the Nazis; the American airmen were quirky but brave--and there is too much invented dialogue. Despite excesses of enthusiasm, massive research and extensive interviews combine in a vividly detailed account of German fighter operations in Western Europe and the training and blooding of an American bomber crew.
From the Publisher
“From the horrors of the most savage war in history emerges this beautiful story of a brotherhood between enemies. Simply told, splendid and well worth the read.”—Joe Galloway, coauthor of the #1 New York Times bestseller We Were Soldiers Once...and Young

“This book grips you like a movie. It’s part Top Gun, part Valkyrie, and more!”—Marcus Brotherton, author of the New York Times bestseller We Who Are Alive and Remain

“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.”—Colonel 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

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780425252864
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
12/19/2012
Pages:
400
Sales rank:
93,247
Product dimensions:
6.25(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.38(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author


Adam Makos is a journalist, historian, and editor of the military magazine, Valor. In his fifteen years of work in the military field, Makos has interviewed countless veterans from WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and present-day wars. He has flown a B-17 bomber, a T-38 fighter with the Air Force, and was one of the few journalists privileged to examine Air Force One with its pilots. In pursuit of a story, Makos met Presidents, had tea with Prince Charles, and toured the DMZ border in Korea with American troops. The high point of his work occurred in 2008, when Makos traveled to Iraq to accompany the 101st Airborne and Army Special Forces on their hunt for Al Qaeda terrorists.
 
Larry Alexander is the author of the New York Times bestselling biography Biggest Brother: The Life of Major Dick Winters, the Man Who Led the Band of Brothers. He is also the author of Shadows In the Jungle: The Alamo Scouts Behind Japanese Lines in World War II and In the Footsteps of the Band of Brothers: A Return to Easy Company’s Battlefields With Sgt. Forrest Guth. Alexander has been a journalist/columnist for the Intelligencer Journal newspaper in Lancaster, Pennsylvania for more than thirteen years and has won numerous state-level awards for excellence in journalism.

Read More

Videos

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >