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

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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 tail—a 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 day—the American—2nd Lieutenant Charlie Brown, a former farm boy from West Virginia who came to captain a B-17—and the German—2nd 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.

 

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User Review  - MasseyLibrary - LibraryThing

Five days before Christmas 1943, a badly damaged American bomber struggled to fly over wartime Germany. At its controls was a twenty-one-year-old pilot. Half his crew lay wounded or dead. Suddenly a ... Read full review

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User Review  - lamour - LibraryThing

On December 20, 1943, an American B-17 is trying to escape a mauling by FW-190's and ME-109's to reach the North Sea and eventually its base in England. As they approach the coast and the flack ... Read full review

Contents

INTRODUCTION
1
A Stranger in My Own Land
9
Follow the Eagles
21
Fire Free
44
The Desert Amusement Park
61
The Stars of Africa
73
The Homecoming
91
The Unseen Hand
109
Stick Close to
247
The Downfall
261
The Flying Sanatorium
283
We Are the Air Force
301
The Squadron of Experts
313
Was It Worth It?
352
AFTERWORD
369
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
379

The Berlin Bear
131
The Farm
137

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About the author (2013)

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.

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