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In the early days of World War II, nations were forced to choose sides in the epic battle that would change history forever. But for two brothers, fate had already made the choice. Separated as boys, Max and Harry Kelso have grown up to become ace fighter pilots --- Max with the German Luftwaffe and Harry in Britain's RAF. Now, the machinery of war has set in motion an intrigue so devious, so filled with peril, that it will require them to question everything they know, everything they hold most dear: their lives, their families, their loyalties. Against impossible odds, it is their courage alone that will decide the course of the war ...

320 pages, Paperback

First published May 11, 1998

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About the author

Jack Higgins

295 books1,122 followers
There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

Jack Higgins is the best known of the many pseudonyms of Henry Patterson. (See also Martin Fallon, Harry Patterson, Hugh Marlowe and James Graham.)

He is the New York Times bestselling author of more than seventy thrillers, including The Eagle Has Landed and The Wolf at the Door. His books have sold more than 250 million copies worldwide.

Born in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, Patterson grew up in Belfast, Northern Ireland. As a child, Patterson was a voracious reader and later credited his passion for reading with fueling his creative drive to be an author. His upbringing in Belfast also exposed him to the political and religious violence that characterized the city at the time. At seven years old, Patterson was caught in gunfire while riding a tram, and later was in a Belfast movie theater when it was bombed. Though he escaped from both attacks unharmed, the turmoil in Northern Ireland would later become a significant influence in his books, many of which prominently feature the Irish Republican Army. After attending grammar school and college in Leeds, England, Patterson joined the British Army and served two years in the Household Cavalry, from 1947 to 1949, stationed along the East German border. He was considered an expert sharpshooter.

Following his military service, Patterson earned a degree in sociology from the London School of Economics, which led to teaching jobs at two English colleges. In 1959, while teaching at James Graham College, Patterson began writing novels, including some under the alias James Graham. As his popularity grew, Patterson left teaching to write full time. With the 1975 publication of the international blockbuster The Eagle Has Landed, which was later made into a movie of the same name starring Michael Caine, Patterson became a regular fixture on bestseller lists. His books draw heavily from history and include prominent figures—such as John Dillinger—and often center around significant events from such conflicts as World War II, the Korean War, and the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Patterson lived in Jersey, in the Channel Islands.

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5 stars
793 (32%)
4 stars
1,002 (40%)
3 stars
580 (23%)
2 stars
69 (2%)
1 star
30 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 116 reviews
Profile Image for KOMET.
1,051 reviews126 followers
February 27, 2020
While the novel was centered around an interesting premise of 2 brothers, both fighter pilots fighting on opposite sides in the Second World War, I felt as if it was a rush job. The characters were sketchily drawn and showed little depth. The one figure I found most appalling was an SS officer named Erich Hartmann (which was also the name of the top Luftwaffe fighter ace, who by all accounts, was a very principled man, having survived 10 years of Soviet imprisonment between 1945 and 1955), who came across as the perfect cardboard sadistic villain from central casting, as only Hollywood could create.

Frankly, this novel disgusted me. I had been a thoroughgoing Jack Higgins fan for years. Now I am no longer a fan, preferring only to confine myself to his earlier novels like “THE EAGLE HAS LANDED” and “STORM WARNING.”
Profile Image for Nick Brett.
925 reviews57 followers
December 19, 2011
This is a weak offering from an author who can do a lot better.

It is quite an old novel subject to a re-issue and is the tale of two fighter aces, twin brothers, who fight for the RAF and the Luftwaffe. By way of a backstory we see the separate stories of the two brothers knowing that eventually their paths will collide.

Surprisingly for Higgins, it is simplistic and lacks any sort of tension. Not helped by a total lack of character for the two twins, they remain fairly blank canvases right to the end. Sadly the dialogue is somewhat stilted too. A ‘twist’ is introduced towards the end which is one of the least interesting ones I have ever read! - Utterly pointless.

Having said, it is a very easy, if frustrating, book to read but you finish up thinking your time would have been better spent on a better book.

Probably best avoided.
53 reviews1 follower
September 13, 2022
This was a great flying novel from WWII
Pitting the best flying aces from the British Royal Air Force against the best from the German Luftwaffe.
Great action sequences and historical information.
Romance follows the pilots and intrigue as well.
Enjoyed
Profile Image for D. Krauss.
Author 12 books42 followers
September 5, 2021
Jack Higgins is one of those authors that everyone who learned to read back in the Stone Age (pre-cell phones and only 3 channels on TV) knew. You said his name and everyone went, “Ooooo” because he was Mister Thriller, Mister Espionage and rock ‘em sock ‘em robots. And I thought forever that he had written several books that I had read, like Eye of the Needle but, turns out...he didn’t write that. Or The Fifth Horseman. Or The Day of the Jackal. Turns out, I have never actually read a Jack Higgins novel ever in my life. Oh sure, I’ve seen the movies made from his books, like The Eagle Has Landed, which is not this book, not even remotely. And, after having stumbled across this paperback edition somewhere and reading it, I’m kinda glad I haven’t read anything else of his.

Because this was disappointing. And how disappointing to find an icon is not all that.

And, yes, I know, it could be just this novel, which appears to be about the 400th or whatever that Higgins wrote and I guess by this time it’s all old hat and he can just phone it in, which seems the way of prolific formulaic authors [glances at Stephen King]. So I’m not rushing to judgment on him because I don’t have enough exposure to his catalogue to draw informed conclusions [another glance at Stephen]. But the novel itself…

The author, or some author, and his wife are vacationing in the Channel Islands in 1997 when some Hollywood people call and want to talk to him about making a movie so they charter a plane in the middle of terrible weather because getting that movie deal is worth risking life and limb, ya know, and the engine goes out and the pilot panics but, whew, the author’s wife is an experienced pilot and takes over and they crash land into the sea right next to a rescue boat but, whoops, they forgot Tarquin, the so named cute stuffed bear dressed in a RAF flight suit they’d found in a shop some time before, so swim back to get it...yep, swim back to get a stuffed bear out of a sinking airplane...and the rescue boat comes up and the old guy driving it goes, “Tarquin!” when he sees the bear.

Are you irritated yet? Well, stay tuned.

Tarquin becomes, of course, the prompt for the story that the rescue man and his pals tell the author and his wife: Tarquin was the mascot of a WW1 American fighter ace flying for the British, Jack Kelso, who married a German baroness, Elsa von Halder, who was a nurse in the hospital in which Kelso recovered after getting shot down, and they had twins, Max and Harry, who grow up in Boston but then Jack died and Elsa decided to reclaim her barony and took one of the twins, Max, back with her to Germany, leaving Harry in the care of his grandfather.

Uh, what?

Oh c’mon, suspend some belief here because how else are you going to get identical twin cracker jack pilots to fight against each other, Royal Air Force versus Luftwaffe, during WW2? And they are both the greatest pilots who ever flew. I’m surprised the Brits and the Germans didn’t reduce their respective air forces to one aircraft each and let these two single handedly carry on the entire air war. Yep, they were that good. And, of course, the moment arrives when the two greatest pilots who ever lived face each other, twin brothers ironically on opposite sides. With Tarquin the bear in attendance.

Oh brother. Literally.

And don’t get me started on what is supposed to be a jaw dropping twist at the end. It’s actually a laugh out loud, “You gotta be kidding me!” moment.

Please don’t let this be typical Higgins. Please.
100 reviews5 followers
August 28, 2014
This Flight of the Eagles follows a similar theme of the previous novels written by Jack Higgins, such as The Eagle has Landed which sold over 50 million copies. The novel takes place during World War 2 and is about two brothers, both fliers, who fight on different sides. It is an easy novel to read and follow, and I found it very entertaining. There are some twists and turns, and I looked forward to reading the book, and once started found it difficult to put down. i read some of the other reviews and cannot agree with the negative reviews. If you want to relax and read an entertaining story this is for you. I am a big fan of Jack Higgins and always enjoyed his novels. Jack Higgins penned many novels under the names of James Graham, Martin Fallon, and Hugh Marlowe, Patterson began using the pseudonym Jack Higgins in the late 1960s. Some readers feel all his novels should be of the quality of the Eagle has Landed, but how many home runs can you hit. The Eagle Has Landed, was written in 1975, and defined the war novels of the 70's. This novel made Higgins' reputation. The novel represented a step forward in the length and depth of Patterson's work and sold 50 million copies and was made into a hit movie. The Eagle has flown is sort of a novel in a series, The Eagle Has Landed (1975), Touch the Devil (1982), Confessional (1985), and The Eagle Has Flown (1991) Night of the Fox (1986), Cold Harbour (1989) and Flight of Eagles (1998). The novels sort of follow the same theme although different main characters are involved in some of the novels.
This is a very entertaining novel which is worth reading, you would definitely enjoy the story line!
Profile Image for Michael Fox.
91 reviews29 followers
April 20, 2015
I always enjoy a Jack Higgins novel. They are typically well researched and written. Several of his characters are among my favorites that I've read. This book was fast paced and fun. Couldn't wait to learn what happened next. The final twist in the epilogue put a smile on my face. Irony. Yet it was foreshadowed from the beginning. Would recommend this book to all who may enjoy WWII historical fiction.
Profile Image for Steve.
907 reviews8 followers
November 21, 2020


Nov 2020 This remains my favorite Jack Higgins story!!!!! Can't recommend it enough.

July 2018 More than 5 Stars --- 10 Stars!!!!!!!!!! Now I'm sorry I rated so many Jack Higgins stories 5 stars. This story is "for real" 5 + stars. I loved that the bear Tarquin was a thread throughout the story. I heartily recommend it.!!!!
Profile Image for Douglas.
177 reviews
May 23, 2016
First Jack Higgins book I've ever read (bought at public library book sale for $1). I thought that the story line was believable and exciting. I will have to find more of his books to read.
449 reviews
May 10, 2017
I really enjoyed this book. I do so enjoy Higgins WWII novels.

This one was particularly good. It started off in WWI with a American Flyer Kelso who flew with the British during WWI. With each flight he took a bear with him called Tarquin. During the war he was shot down and met a Prussian nurse Elsa von Halder who had lost everything in the war. They married and she came to the US on a boat and had identical twins whilst Kelso went back to the War. At the end of the war he returned as his father Abe Kelso who has a governor was rich played with fast cars and planes and was eventually killed in a car crash.

The two sons Max and Harry loved their mother but were in awe of their father. As children he took them up in a plane (to which he was told off by his wife) and after that they were hooked. After her husband's death, Elsa told Abe she wanted to return to what was now Germany. Her family were Barons and she wanted to restore the family estate. Abe agreed to it and to give her some money for her to do it but on the condition that one of the sons remained with him as he could not bare to lose them both. The sons agreed to it and the only thing they seemed to argue over it was who got to keep Tarquin the bear. Max went to Germany as the olders to become the future Baron von Halder and Harry stayed with his grandfather in the US.

Over the years, both boys became flyers because this was all they cared about. Harry in the US Air Force and Max in the Luftwaffe. At the beginning of the war, Harry transferred to Finland and fought the Russians/Germans before going to England to help in the Battle of Britain. Max flew planes in the Luftwaffe. Both boys excelled and were the best pilots on either side.

Through Harry's connection to intelligence he was able to find about Max's progress and Max used his same connections on the other side to find about Harry.

Without wanting to spoil it Harry starts working for Special Intelligence and doing courier flights where he flies Eisenhower around and through a spy network the Germans find out and come up with a plot to switch Harry/Max so they can use him to kill Eisenhower.

What I loved was that they under-estimated how the boys felt about each other. Though they were separated as teenagers they still loved each other - and their mother - family trumped it.

Neither of them cared about the side they were fighting for - other reviewers had issues with this, but I didn't I got it - they were "flyers" - they just wanted to fly planes - they didn't care who is was for. In the end it made a difference, because though he flew for the Luftwaffe he wasn't a Nazi -he didn't believe in the cause - only in his family.

The ending was really sad and had a great spoiler. This book was written really well. There has been some comments that there was not enough background and people couldn't care/relate to the characters but I didn't see that - the background was perfect for me - I loved it and I really enjoyed it.

5 stars. Top draw, really enjoyable WWII yarn.

Profile Image for Tania.
1,277 reviews29 followers
February 13, 2020
Harry and Max Kelso are twin brothers, born to an American father and a German mother during WWI. Their father was an ace pilot who never recovered from the horrors of war. Their mother was a faithful but repressed personality, and after their father passed the boys were split apart. One went to live with their mother in Germany, the other stayed to live with their grandfather in America. Despite the distance, the boys maintained their relationship until WWII broke out. Then they found themselves in the service of opposing armies, asked to do the unthinkable.

The story is told as a story, being told to two characters (one an author, one a pilot) in the present-day (1990's). An old teddy bear, one with quite a distinct personality, is used to propel the storytelling along. All of this works quite well, and the boys are dashing historical figures. I am appalled, though, at the thoughtlessness and cruelty of the mother and grandfather in splitting up the boys. I am devastated at the choices they have to make. And I am quite unsettled by the ending. The book moves along at quite a steady, even plodding, pace, and yet there is definitely an undercurrent of danger, and a feeling of despair, that runs through it all and keeps it interesting.

I've seen others praise the twist at the end. I didn't care for it, because though it kept me thinking on the book for hours I couldn't come up with a good reason for it to happen within the confines of the story.
103 reviews3 followers
September 11, 2017
I particularly like Jack Higgins/James Patterson's WWII novels and this book was no exception. It had a very interesting plot involving American-born twin brothers, Harry and Max Kelso, fighting on opposite sides of the war. One was a fighter pilot for the RAF and the other for the Luftwaffe. The early part of the novel, setting up the war scenes to follow, was a little tedious and it jumped around a bit, but once the real stuff got going it was excellent with some great characters. It begins actually with WW I and the twins' father as a pilot. Both are smitten with the flying bug as a direct result of their father's experience. However, it is their mother who has the greater influence as she is German-born and takes one of the twins back to Germany before the start of the war and he becomes a Baron in the process. The war scenes are excellent, especially the flying, with a great description of Britiqan under the Nazi blitz. There is also a twist in the ending that I wasn't expecting, so have a read!
151 reviews
May 2, 2020
Not as familiar as some with the work of Jack Higgins, I found this work intriguing. I had heard of “The Eagle Has Landed”, due primarily to the movie adaption by the same name, but have yet to read it. All this to say, my only preconception coming into this book was based on the somewhat comical picture of Higgins with Tarquin on the dust jacket.

His set-up and closing leave the uninitiated to wonder if this might have been historical fiction, based on real-life characters. To this reader, that lent credence to the tale, igniting interest in its historicity. Sprinkling in actual agents in the WWII fray, such as Himmler, Eisenhower and the like, Higgins effectively sells the story.

Foreshadowing leads any experienced reader to suspect the denouement but the twist at the end was particularly touching. Invest a few hours with one; you’ll find it worth you while.
Profile Image for Sarah Allen.
430 reviews7 followers
February 20, 2019
The book starts in the current day with the author and his wife flying to a remote airport in the southwest of England. I thought it might be a non-fiction book until he continued on with the story of twin brothers raised together in the U.S. who ended up flying opposite of each other in WWII. One brother flew for the Luftwaffe and the other for the Royal Air Force in England. I really appreciated the authenticity of the writing about the aircraft, airfields, conditions, flying techniques and historical figures in the book. It is fast paced and grips the reader's emotions until the last word.
April 11, 2020
I only had the Readers Digest condensed edition to read so I can't really rate this book properly. I remember the "Eagle Has Landed" as being excellent!! A classic! This one was a good WW2 story with lots of intrigue and airborne action, but hardly true! (Not sure why he took that angle?!) However, I thoroughly enjoyed this quick read of 150 pages. I'm sure I missed a lot by only reading this abridged edition.
Profile Image for John.
1,502 reviews5 followers
November 14, 2018
THis was a right and good read. Not sure how much if any is true, but the structure of the tale flows very wel and hte characters are life like.
The best part is not the Natzi bad guys or the missplsced twins, but the bear who gets to fly. Almost like a combat Winnie the Pooh. Sure makes me smile thinking of him.
Profile Image for Megan.
216 reviews20 followers
December 27, 2019
Disclaimer: I read the condensed version, in Reader's Digest. The premise was promising, and it had some touching moments; however: 1) I was not impressed with the writing (usually I'm not a stickler for the old adage "show don't tell," but this book convinced me it's sound advice), and 2) there was (totally unnecessary) sexual content.
Profile Image for Lucas Cadmiel.
33 reviews
March 26, 2019
Sem dúvida, uma leitura interessante, quando fora forjado a troca dos irmãos, senti uma "adrenalina", algo que que não me recordo de "ter" sentido durante uma leitura de algum livro; ainda sobre os irmãos, de repente o desfecho poderia ser mais "interessante";
1 review
December 16, 2019
A real page-turner!

I could not put the book down. I had never heard of Jack Higgins before I read this book. I’m hooked and looking forward to reading his other books starting with Cold Harbour.
Profile Image for Graeme.
43 reviews
June 13, 2022
Interesting read. Starts and ends with a more personal and realistic introduction and conclusion. The story is quite good and has some interesting twists and turns. Compared to the Sean Dillon series, this was a bit more interesting.
Profile Image for Basanta Raj.
3 reviews
November 18, 2017
I love books from Jack Higgins. Easy to read and follow. The store telling. I can image watching the scenes as it unfolds.
18 reviews1 follower
November 23, 2018
Really went downhill after the last few chapters. The overacted performance by Patrick Macnee didn't help...
628 reviews5 followers
April 18, 2019
A very enjoyable WWII read........a good job by Jack Higgins......
Profile Image for Mylie.
155 reviews
April 22, 2019
3.5 stars. Not as good as his older ones... feels rushed. Still a fun, action packed read.
178 reviews
July 7, 2019
An average story which the author claims to be true. However, certain events are clearly not true and none of the main characters or events can be confirmed by any historical evidence.
Profile Image for Nick.
762 reviews1 follower
March 11, 2020
A well crafted story, focused on two sons and their family during WWII, full of all the intrigue and uncertainties of wartime. Great suspense, and an entertaining read.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 116 reviews

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