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

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4.26 of 5 stars 4.26  ·  rating details  ·  5,803 ratings  ·  796 reviews
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 bom ...more
Hardcover, 392 pages
Published December 19th 2012 by Berkley (first published December 1st 2012)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jerry Bransford
I just completed reading Adam Makos' A Higher Call and I can only say I was absolutely stunned after finishing its final page. I sat quietly for several minutes, staring at the book and flipping through it looking at its pictures again, trying to come to grips with what I had just read. It is a more emotional book than I imagined it would be.

Adam has written a stunning, eye-opening, and breathtaking story of the lives of WWII pilots from both sides of the European Theater, and I dare say his is
...more
Karen
A Higher Call is mostly the story of Franz Stigler, an ace WWII German fighter pilot who came upon a heavily damaged and helpless American B-17 bomber struggling to return to England. Stigler could have easily shot the bomber down, but instead he escorted them past an anti-aircraft battery and flew along side them for a while out over the North Sea. Stigler knew he would be court-martialed if anyone found out what he had done. For years he wondered if the bomber had made it home safely and he wo ...more
Jon
What's better than a good novel? A great story that is a true and inspirational one!I never write reviews but this book was so good, I thought I had to do so. So many things had to go just right and the timing always had to line up, or this book would never have existed. Brave and honorable men do exist in real life. We just normally don't get to hear about them. Read the book. You'll be glad you did.
A.L. Sowards
I really enjoyed this book. After looking at the cover and reading the back, I expected it to be the story of a US bomber crew and a German fighter pilot. In reality, the majority of the book was about the German fighter pilot, Franz Stigler, but that didn’t make the book any less enjoyable. I’ve read more about American bomber crews than about German fighters anyway, so I liked the unexpected focus.

The highlight of the book involved (view spoiler)
...more
Linda B.D.
I bought this book for my husband. I usually read time travel, romance, and apocalyptic books. I read the cover and it sounded interesting. I've always loved non-fiction-especially history concentrating on time travel during the Civil War. After all, this is a New York Times Best Seller, so I decided to give it a try, thinking I would read the first chapter then fall asleep. With 371 pages also filled with many, many pictures (never printed before), I was captured with the plot immediately. No w ...more
Laurel
I just finished reading A Higher Call: An Incredible True Story of Combat and Chivalry in the War-Torn Skies of World
War II. I was a little skeptical about the use of the word "incredible" in the title. I discovered that the author chose it for the best of reasons- it's totally accurate. This is an incredible book to read and experience from a personal and historical point of view; plus the story it weaves about two pilots from opposing sides is truly incredible! It is difficult to write this r
...more
Leonard Romney
I am an avid reader of WWII sweeping histories, personal stories, events. etc. This book, A Higher Call, is one of the best, in my opinion. I lived in Germany for 2 1/2 years in the early 1960's, being a missionary there for the LDS Church. That experience whetted my life long obsession with all aspects of the war, partially started by the Nazi's under Hitler. This true story recounts the acts of a german fighter pilot who endangered himself by shepherded a horribly damaged B17 out of Germany an ...more
Ranjeev Dubey
I guess you would say this book is flogging a dead bomber. The story is worth 1000 words, maybe 2000 but having been there and done that, the authors have gone on to stretch it into a book. Its a lot of stretching.

Still, I read it through because somewhere in all this, I learnt a lot more about what life was like for German airmen supporting the Africa Corps in WW2. Considerably more interesting was Luftwaffe experience of the last days of the Third Reich and even more, the truth about the Worl
...more
Steven
I felt this was extremely well written and an incredible story that needed to be told. I had read some reviews that stated they didn't care for how the stories of the 2 different men told in flashback were interspersed but I followed the flow extremely well. The thing that struck me was how my impressions of 2 pilots on different sides of the war had, in reality, a same common enemy that they felt dragged them into battle. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and give it my highest recommendation.
Nooilforpacifists
Stretches one event for an entire book, yet. . . The most interesting parts are the disintegration of the mighty Luftwaffe, and how a "Band of Brothers" of true believers -- not in National Socialism, but in air power -- escaped during the last months of war, from Göring's grasp. They slid to Austria with an ever-decreasing number of serviceable aircraft, plus the few remaining Messerschmitt jets.
Paul
This was a great book. At Christmastime in 1943, a German – who was already one of the leading fighter pilots at that point of the war – comes across a severely damaged B-24, barely able to fly, but instead of shooting it down, he leads it out into the Atlantic – and gives the crew a chance to survive. He had never shown such mercy before, and the risk of his own execution was profoundly real, yet he couldn’t bring himself to shoot them down. The two pilots met nearly 50 years later, and that ac ...more
Katherine
Wow - what an amazing story! This book tells the story of a German fighter pilot and an American bomber pilot that had a brief encounter in the skies over Germany during WWII. The author's extensive research fills in the details and the book is told primarily from the perspective of the German fighter pilot. The author's forward addresses this; he was initially reluctant to interview the enemy but changed his tune after meeting Franz Stigler (Stigler set him straight on their first visit that he ...more
Evan
As a guy who reads volumes of pilot bios and has high rated some classics, let me say this...ONLY this book made me Misty-Eyed for 20 minutes during the wrap-up. That's because it is a piece of human drama at a war backdrop, and not the other way around.

On one hand, there is an account of an American bomber crew who survived at both the mercy, grace, and self-sacrificing chivalry of their opponent. But theirs is the highlight side story tale, which brought this bio to life.

On the other hand, it
...more
Grumpus
What to say? Freakin' Amazing !

Just another example of the Greatest Generation. Chivalry, bravery, and honor among pilots amidst the horror of war.

I was going to give this 4 stars but the tear-jerking ending boosted it to 5-stars.

If you are a WWII buff, enjoy history, or looking for an amazing story, read it, read it, read it!
Dhiraj Sharma
“Gentlemanly War”… isn’t this an Oxymoron. I mean what could be gentlemanly when you are trying your best to kill your enemy, shoot bullets into him and make widows and orphans in the process.

This is the extraordinary and unbelievable story of Lt. Franz Stigler of Luftwaffe and Lt. Charlie Brown of USAAF during World War-II.

Lt Franz spared the life of Charlie Brown’s crew on their 1st bombing run over Germany and let the plane fly back to England by shielding it thru German Flak. He could have g
...more
Anne
Aug 22, 2013 Anne rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone
If I could have given more than 5*****, I would have. This book was that good. it was so well written, yet the story could have written itself. It is something you usually read about in novels, but think, "This could not be for real." But yes, it was. I concerns two WWII pilots, Franz Stigler, a German and Charlie Brown, an American. Neither was political. Stigler was a young German born of devout Roman Catholic family in Bavaria who were avidly anti-Nazi and Charlie was the son of American farm ...more
Katie
Mar 05, 2013 Katie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2013
December 20, 1943, American pilot Charles Brown and crew flew into the path of German pilot Franz Stigler. Brown's plane had been demolished from the day's mission, and Brown looked into Stigler's eyes with fear. Stigler, having just lost his brother, had begun to operate by a new code: "to celebrate victories not death, and to know when it was time to answer a higher call." Stigler made a split-second decision that, if discovered, would land him in front of a firing squad, but would ultimately ...more
Gerald
Probably the most fantastic and memorable stories of World War II I've EVER read (and I have read many).

A chance encounter over war-torn northern Germany between a fighter plane flown by a famous German Ace and American B-17 so badly shot up that it was a miracle it was still flying. What led the German, who could have easily shot down the Americans, to not only spare their lives but to escort them through the flack guns along the coast and risk being court martialed?

How was the B-17, with its
...more
Trev Twinem
A very enjoyable read concerning a Luftwaffe pilot and an American B-17 pilot who have an extraordinary meeting during the heat of battle and many many years later a reunion takes place. Well written historical event that reads like a thriller.
John
This is an endlessly interesting and often harrowing story of two pilots who meet in the skies over Germany in December 1943. It follows the career of fighter pilot Franz Stigler through North Africa, Sicily and Germany until he crosses paths with Charlie Brown, a B-17 pilot on only his second mission. Brown's plane is basically shot to pieces and the encounter between the two pilots will change both their lives. Stigler goes on to fly the dangerous 262's and Brown completes his tour of duty. Bu ...more
Caroline
I wasn't too sure what to expect in my first foray into military writing. But this proved a much more readable book than I expected--and expertly researched. "A Higher Call" is the true story of the German ace fighter pilot who saved the lives of a U.S. B-17 crew limping toward the German border in a hideously damaged craft. In addition to this remarkable story and the pilots' reunion nearly 50 years later, I learned a great deal about the German luftwaft, its aces and their anti-Hitler views, a ...more
Jim
I listened to this audio version (reader gets four stars) on a 24 hour cross-country drive...so it was pretty continuous from start to finish...all in a 'day'.
The story is a good one, but the subject matter is a bit contentious. The author wishes us to believe that one act of compassion (on the part of a Luftwaffe fighter pilot) somehow makes a difference in our interpretations/impressions of an otherwise brutal slaughter of young men (and women) during the air wars of WWII. It doesn't. But the
...more
Stephan Kapustka
A Higher moral code in the skies of WW2 Reviewed 11/5/2014

In the war torn skies of Europe in late 1943, during World War II, a lone B-17 bomber limps home. It is badly beaten, and several crew members are dead or critically wounded. Just when the pilot, Charley Brown, didn't think things could get any worse, a seeming nightmare appeared. A German Messerschmidt BF-109G appeared behind them. And its pilot, Franz Stigler, wasn't an incompetent either. He was a veteran of the North African campaign,
...more
Stanley Cramer
Very possibly the best book on WWII I've ever read, and I've read a lot of them. How this book was not nominated for best fiction book of the year is beyond me. Adam Makos does a superb job in the telling of this remarkable tale. Much (I'd say 65%) of the tale is about Franz Stigler and his plight as a Luftwaffe pilot. Another 30% is about Charlie Brown (you gotta love the name) and his B17 crew. The remaining 5% about their meeting and reunion. If this book wasn't so well documented, one might ...more
Jennifer Rayment
still have tears in my eyes after finishing

Random Thoughts

Could not stop listening to this I was hooked in from the very first paragraph
Won't lie, I really don't do a lot of non-fiction, but one of my customers insisted that I had to read this and I promised I would (Probably would have been a while to read, but saw it on the new arrivals for my library so I downloaded it right away for listening to)
Half way through listening I was already telling everyone that they had to read it - sold 3 c
...more
Nathalie S
This book is really how it is described--An incredible true story of combat and chivalry in WWII and the chivalry came from the usually unlikely realm of a German fighter pilot. The key was that he did not belong to the Nazi party and he was a believer who carried his rosary at all times, even after he was booted out of the Catholic Church. The story is primarily the one of Franz Stigler, who shows mercy to American Charlie Brown and his crew, flying a disabled bomber and feels this "higher call ...more
thewanderingjew
This unusual book tells the story of World War II, from the perspective of a German hero, Franz Stigler, a boy who once wanted to become a priest but whose love of flying led him, instead, to become a fighter pilot, a flying ace, whose act of mercy saved the life of an American soldier. He never joined the Nazi party nor did members of his family. His brother was a suspected member of the underground. While I always knew that not all Germans were supporters of Hitler or members of the National S ...more
Susan
I just loved this book. The detail to what life was like for these men was incredible. I could just imagine being there with them based on the authors descriptions. I found the book to be motivating in so many ways. These were extraordinary times as are the men who served. The authors description of his opinions prior to interviewing Franz and his new appreciation and education is wonderful. I learned a lot. A must read!
Ted Hunt
When I read the introduction of this book, I was not encouraged about its prospects. How can someone who grew up in the 1980's have believed that every German during World War II was a Nazi? (Who was this guy's history teacher, anyway?) However, I was very pleasantly surprised by how engrossing the story became (and the author admits how much his views changed by researching and writing this story). First of all (spoiler alert), the front cover provides a false impression of what the book is rea ...more
Al
I obviously had multiple problems with this book. Had it not been written and presented as a true story, but rather as a non-fiction novel ala Capote's "In Cold Blood", I would have had less of a problem. The purple prose recalling minute details of events, scenarios and conversations that supposedly were recalled from memory 50 or 60 years before was just too far beyond credibility.

Admittedly, it is an interesting World War II story from a perspective we rarely get. However, throughout, I was g
...more
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A Higher Call: Of Dubious History 8 94 Sep 24, 2014 03:44PM  
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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, M ...more
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“Franz’s father gave him a lesson. “Always do the right thing, even if no one sees it.” 3 likes
“Of the twenty-eight thousand German fighter pilots to see combat in WWII, only twelve hundred survived the war.” 1 likes
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