Four days before Christmas in 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. 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 forty years until, as old men, they would search for one another, a last mission that could change their lives forever.
Customer ReviewsSee All
A Must Read Chivalry Back Then Was Dead
Franz was a gentleman's gentleman. I have read the book "A Higher Call" several times and it nearly brought tears to my eyes each time I read it.
Franz could have very easily shot Charley down but he didn't. Whomever said that chivalry was dead is wrong. Excellent book highly recommend you read the book "A Higher Call". When Franz was flying over in North Africa, his squadron leader Lieutenant Gustav Rodel told Franzthat if ever see hear of you shooting at a man in a parachute, I will personally shoot you down myself. Lt. Gustav Rodel also stated "You follow the rules of war , not for you enemy". You will fight by the rules to keep your humanity.
Some of the reviews that have been written on this book book complain about the majority of the book being devoted strictly to Franz Stigler.
Well if you read in the first part of the book, Adam Markus went to interview Charlie Brown, Charlie told Adam Markus "do you really want the whole story about my flight and my crew, then I don't think you should start by talking to me. If you really want to learn the whole story, learn about Franz Stigler first". Charlie said that he was just a character, Franz Stigler is the real hero. The German Pilots had a code of honor that they aheard to. While in North Africa Franz Stigler was told by his Fllight Leader Lt . Gustav Rodel "If I ever hear or see you shoot down a man in a parachute, I will personnally shoot you down myself.
Hope that y'all enjoying reading the book as much as I have, It is worth every penny. As I have said previously I have ready the bookat least 4 times and each time that I read "A Higher Call" it honestly brings tears to my eyes.
May both Franz Stigler & Charley Brown RIP!!!!! -
From the minute I started listening in on the incredible courage and skill of these WWII fighter pilots, I felt immersed in their world. I recommend this book to everyone! Magical, truly magical.
A Higher Call
I happened to be in Seattle several years ago and heard the story at the 379th's reunion. I didn't meet Brown or Steigler but saw and heard them speak. The book is just fantastic.