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

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  18,356 ratings  ·  1,881 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
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 ·  18,356 ratings  ·  1,881 reviews

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Start your review of A Higher Call: An Incredible True Story of Combat and Chivalry in the War-Torn Skies of World War II
Jerry Bransford
Jan 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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.
Dec 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 06, 2013 rated it really liked it

Starting with an encounter between a badly shot up B-17 and an ace German fighter pilot on Christmas Eve of 1943, the author tells the story of the pilots of the 2 airplanes. In telling the story he also tells a little of his own growth in researching that story.

While this book is the story of the two pilots, Charlie Brown (yes that’s really his name) who was piloting the B-17 and Franz Stigler, who was flying the ME109, this narrative is mainly Stigler's story. At the time of the encounter Stig
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
"Can good men be found on both sides of a bad war?"

If there is any honor and beauty to be found in war, this is it: A Higher Call: An Incredible True Story of Combat and Chivalry in the War-Torn Skies of World War II. Even in war, miracles happen and God extends grace.

After reading Makos' latest release - Devotion: An Epic Story of Heroism, Friendship, and Sacrifice - a truly phenomenal book - and now this one, I'm totally in awe of his moral integrity, tenacious resolve, and dedication to pre
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)
Nov 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book was phenomenal...

I knew from the very first few chapters, that I was gonna end up enjoying this book very much.
This blend of beautiful and harrowing experiences, written together with incredibly researched work makes this such a well executed book.

I have to say this book is mainly about the German pilot who according to his amarican counterpart was the ‘hero of this story’.

I loved that it was written with such a wide perspective from the Germans side since the time of his childhood.
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
Dec 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A German fighter pilot tracks a lonely American heavy bomber trying to escape back to Britain after bombing a German city. The bomber is so shot to pieces that Lieutenant Franz Stigler is amazed it’s still able to fly. The rear gunner is dead. None of the plane’s other guns are working. The American pilot is a twenty one year old rookie.

This confrontation between an American pilot and a German pilot in December 1943 is the hinge that holds this riveting book together. We get a detailed account
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.
Franz and Charlie.
On opposites sides.
But united through the bond of a horrific moment captured in the midst of battle.

This is an incredibly emotional story that was both informative, intriguing, and easily visualized. It's not often true stories can hold a readers attention so well, but this one far surpassed what I expected. The moment between Franz and Charlie is brief compared to the extent of the rest of the book, but I wasn't bored in the least. You get to see both Franz and Charlie's life
Feb 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Ranjeev Dubey
Oct 07, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Dec 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a great book!!! This is the first book I have read from a German viewpoint and it has opened my eyes to a whole new history of WW2. This is an awesome book and Makos brings to life the side of the Luftwaffe in it's air battles against the Allies, and what those pilots faced daily. Incredible book!!!
Jeff Dawson
Nov 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A tribute to all airmen.

An absolutely brilliant work! I cannot say enough of this true World War Two account of Franz Stigler and Charlie Brown. I’ve read many accounts where soldiers from both sides would come to meet one another during a lull in the action. There are countless stories of this occurring in World War I and II. Many of them occur around Christmas when it’s “Good will towards men.”
But none of the stories compare to this one.

Charley’s B-17 has been riddled with bullets, flak and c
Jul 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I sometimes hesitate to recommend certain books because they can be a chore to read. Adam Makos books are different. They read like novels and they always start out painless, maintain the reader’s interest and end with a reunion of the combatants. It is recipe for success.

A Higher Call is a must read for all WWII aficionados, history buffs, and aviation enthusiasts. Heck, even the dabblers will enjoy this one. Like every Makos book, it entertains from start to finish and it does not intimidate.
Monica Johnson
Feb 08, 2015 rated it did not like it
I feel awful rating this book with 1 star. I thought I would be enraptured. The reviews are amazing. I read, and read, and read, but just could not get into it. I finally put it down, because I had a stack of books that were breathing down my neck. Another embarrassing confession: My elderly next door neighbor lent me the book when he found out how much I enjoyed "Unbroken" by Laura Hillenbrand. They are the sweetest neighbors you could ever ask for, and after I tried for months to get into this ...more
Jan 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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.
A small act of humanity saves many lives. When a German ace pilot refuses to shoot down a damaged B-17 bomber, the German pilot is later re-united with those who he saved.
Katherine Wacker
Apr 08, 2018 rated it really liked it

In Adam Makos’s A Higher Call: An Incredible True Story of Combat and Chivalry in the War-Torn Skies of World War II, the author relays the tale of two pilots destined to meet from opposite sides of the war. Franz Stigler, a veteran German pilot known for his exploits in the air and one kill away from becoming an ace, sees a badly damaged B-17 and makes a heroic choice. Charlie Brown, the young American of the limping bird, knows that he and his crew are living on borrowed time when the unimagin
Leonard Romney
Mar 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobook, history
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!
Brian Goeselt
Dec 23, 2012 rated it liked it
Got off to a very slow start. Initial prose awkward, stilted and juvenile. Insight into day to day life inside Germany as a fighter pilot in WW II helped redeem the story. Power of the drama of airwar won out over bad prose. Amazing story .
Dhiraj Sharma
Mar 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
“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
Christopher Cerda
May 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
If there have been two events that have undoubtedly had the greatest effect on the course of modern age they would be World War 1 and World War 2. They both demonstrate the horror of war and the atrocities that mankind can commit while also showing the cost that it can inflict upon the world. From the Lost Generation to the Jewish Holocaust, the two Great Wars have shown us the deepest depths of what humans can inflict upon ourselves.

But even though these two terrible wastes of human life have s
Mar 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: histories
A Higher Call is a very interesting book from a number of viewpoints. As the number of our WW II veterans dwindle, because of aging, this book serves as a reminder of how war is experienced by the combatants. As a student of the war and having an interest in the air forces i.e planes and their pilots, this book is an outstanding recounting of the challenges of aerial combat during WW II.
This book touts itself to be an account of a spectacular encounter between a German fighter pilot and an Ame
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Hailed as “A masterful storyteller” by the Associated Press, Adam Makos is the author of the New York Times bestseller, A Higher Call, and the critically-acclaimed, Devotion. Inspired by his grandfathers’ service, Adam chronicles the stories of American veterans in his trademark “You Are There” style, landing him “in the top ranks of military writers,” according to the Los Angeles Times. In pursui ...more

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“Franz’s father gave him a lesson. “Always do the right thing, even if no one sees it.” 16 likes
“Of the twenty-eight thousand German fighter pilots to see combat in WWII, only twelve hundred survived the war.” 4 likes
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