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

by Adam Makos, Larry Alexander


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THE INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER: “Beautifully told.”—CNN “A remarkable story...worth retelling and celebrating.”—USA Today “Oh, it’s a good one!”—Fox News
A “beautiful story of a brotherhood between enemies” emerges from the horrors of World War II in this New York Times bestseller by the author of Spearhead

December, 1943: A badly damaged American bomber struggles to fly over wartime Germany. At the controls is twenty-one-year-old Second Lieutenant Charlie Brown. Half his crew lay wounded or dead on this, their first mission. Suddenly, a Messerschmitt fighter pulls up on the bomber’s tail. The pilot is German ace Franz Stigler—and he can destroy the young American crew 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.”

The U.S. 8th Air Force would later classify what happened between them as “top secret.” It was an act that Franz could never mention for fear of facing a firing squad. It was the encounter that would haunt both Charlie and Franz for forty years until, as old men, they would search the world for each other, a last mission that could change their lives forever.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Praise for A Higher Call

“A remarkable story...worth retelling and celebrating.”—USA Today

“Beautifully told.”—CNN

“A riveting story of humanity and mercy set against the ghastly backdrop of war.”—Publishers Weekly

“Oh, it’s a good one!”—Fox News

“Deeply felt by its author and deeply affecting to read.”—The Times (London)

“A truly awe inspiring story of wartime chivalry.”—Daily Mail (London)

“Incredible.”—New York Post

“Inspiring.”—Kirkus Reviews 

“Simply told, splendid, and well worth the read.”—*Joe Galloway, co-author 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, co-author of the New York Times bestseller Tough as They Come

“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.”—Colonel Charles McGee, Tuskegee Airman, WWII

A Higher Call exemplifies beautifully the brotherhood of warriors and will forever change how you look at World War II.”—Eric Blehm, author of the New York Times bestseller, Fearless

“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

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780425255735
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/06/2014
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 18,402
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

Customer Reviews