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.
“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)
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Proof the term "Hero" knows no borders
This book is a perfect example of a wonderful story waiting to be told. In the hands of a skilled writer, the author disappears and the story stands on its own. Beautifully written and leads the listener courageously through some of the most harrowing moments of the air war.
It was easy to put myself in the position of both pilots and to understand their call to duty. Particularly interesting was the mental preparation each aviator went through before undertaking missions that would reasonably be expected to end in death. Hard to imagine doing so day after day.
The reunion of the aviators at the Boeing plant at the 50th anniversary of the B-17. The emotions shared by the survivors moved me greatly.
The book easily breaks into two or three listening sessions since the author approaches the story first from the German side, then from the American side, and finally to the reconnection and reconciliation of the two sides.
This was an unusual read for me. I am not a big fan of war stories. This story was epic in its display of courage, valor and honor. It was both inspiration and humbling.
Sometimes the truth is better than fiction...
A Higher Call is one of those inspiring stories that makes you want to be a better person. World War II brought about some of the most unthinkable actions of pure evil mankind has ever seen - and yet amongst such atrocities, decency and valor and good will still shone through in the actions of men from both sides of the war. This is one of those stories.
This book brought tears to my eyes. And for a man's man who stinks at showing emotion like me - that's saying something. Phenomenal book.