A Higher Call
An Incredible True Story of Combat and Chivalry in the War-Torn Skies of World War II
Publication Date: December 19, 2012
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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 taila 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 daythe American2nd Lieutenant Charlie Brown, a former farm boy from West Virginia who came to captain a B-17and the German2nd 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.
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.
"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...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...A riveting story of humanity and mercy set against the ghastly backdrop of war."—Publishers Weekly
“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 “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: The Undaunted Courage and Ultimate Sacrifice of Navy SEAL Team SIX Operator Adam Brown “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