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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.
About The Author
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.
Reviews Publishers Weekly
Military historian and aviation enthusiast Makos, along with WWII biographer Alexander (In the Footsteps of the Band of Brothers), delivers a top-notch narrative of the unlikely encounter between one of Germany's leading fighter aces, Franz Stigler, and the rookie crew of an American bomber in the frigid skies of Germany in December 1943-upon engaging the already damaged American plane, Stigler had mercy on his enemies and escorted them to safety. Building on the events of that encounter, Makos crafts a multifaceted story, relating the career of Stigler from his first taste of combat in North Africa to his final assignment flying jet fighters in the waning battles of the war in Europe. He also follows American Lt. Charlie Brown and his crew through training and to the successful completion of their combat tour in April 1944. Based on thousands of hours of interviews and an evident knowledge of his subject, Makos details the frantic life of the German fighter pilots living on the edge, and the American bomber crews, far from home, fighting to survive. The book is a riveting story of humanity and mercy set against the ghastly backdrop of war. Agent: Greg Johnson, Wordserve Literary Agency. (Jan.) Library Journal
Mitchell Zuckoff's Frozen in Time might prompt a desire to learn more about aerial combat and the life of WWII fighter pilots. For those readers, suggest this highly narrative account of German and American fighter pilots and the incredible moment when a sworn enemy did the seemingly unthinkable during war. Franz Stigler was a German fighter ace who was proven, skilled, and deadly. Charlie Brown was a novice pilot, flying a plane with disabled guns and extensive structural damage-a sitting duck. What occurred when the two encountered one another is the stuff of legend. Tracing the biographies of both men, including detailed accounts of Stigler's career and Charlie's training, Makos and Alexander create a vivid account of the lives of pilots during the war and recreate with riveting power their combat missions.
(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. Kirkus Reviews
An inspiring dual biography of two World War II airmen against the background of the European air war. In 1943, a severely damaged B-17, returning from a mission over Germany, was intercepted by a Messerschmitt fighter. Instead of finishing off the crippled bomber, the German pilot guided it toward the Channel and sent it on its way to England. Both pilots were still living 60 years later when Makos, editor of the military journal Valor, discovered the story. That single encounter was too short for a book, but Makos and military writer Alexander (Biggest Brother: The Life of Major Dick Winters, the Man Who Led the Band of Brothers, 2005) bring together the stories of the pilots. Franz Stigler was a deeply religious Catholic who loved flying. Already a commercial pilot, he was drafted into the Luftwaffe at the beginning of the war. He served grueling tours in Africa, Italy and Germany, becoming a fighter ace
and flying the first jet while watching most of his comrades die as massive bomber formations devastated his nation. Charlie Brown was a West Virginia farm boy who moved from the peacetime National Guard to the Army to the controls of a B-17. Many of his friends died, as well. Serious military buffs may wrinkle their noses at the energetically nonpartisan tone--all the Luftwaffe pilots hated the Nazis; the American airmen were quirky but brave-and there is too much invented dialogue. Despite excesses of enthusiasm, massive research and extensive interviews combine in a vividly detailed account of German fighter operations in Western Europe and the training and blooding of an American bomber crew. "Oh Readtail, theyre so beautiful!!!!" Leafspot, Dawnclans medicine cat purred "what will you name them?" Redtail looked at her mate Thornpelt for suggestions, but he just shrugged "whatever you want to name them is fine with me." He meowed, smiling unenthusiastically, looking at us weird. Redtail looked down at her two newborn daughters. "I think this one will be..." she paused to think "Lilykit" she meowed happily, signaling to my light brown tabby sister with violet eyes with her tail. Then she pointed at me "and she will be Skykit" she purred. Thornpelt licked Redtails cheek, never taking his unsettling stare off of us. "Those are beautiful names" he said. That was three moons ago, and today, me and Lilykits mother FINALLY let us out of the nursery, I am playing mossball with Lilykit and Thornpelt, tossing it back and forth, I glance over at my father and I catch him glaring at us. He saw me looking at him and he turned away and went over to talk to his best friends Nightpelt and Tigerstripe. "Lilykit! Skykit! Time to come in!" Our mothers voice said from the nursery. "Coming!" Me and Lilykit said at the same time, we ate, and curled up to sleep in our mothers warm, fluffy fur. Around moonhigh that night, Redtail got up and padded out of the nursery no make dirt, accidently waking us "sorry!" She mewed appoligetically "its okay" i mewed sleepily. I closed my eyes and tried to go back to sleep, but i couldnt, i kept having this feeling that someone was watching me. I shrugged it off and burried my nose into Lilykits fur, and eventually beg to fal aslep, but then i heard a rustling near me. My head shot up, and my heartbeat quickened. I looked around frantically trying to see what it was. "its just... the wind..." i whispered to myself "or is it?" A familiar deep growl said, before it grabbed me and my sister, and pinning us to the ground by the necks with his claws unsheathed "say goodnight my little angels" he growled, digging his claws farther into our necks. Lilykit squeaked in pain. In the faint light of the moon, i could just make out the outline of a golden pelt "TThornpelt?" I whispered "yeah thats me" he hissed "why... why are you doing this?!" I squealed "because your not right! Your not the kits i tried so hard to get! Your both stupid and ugly!" He growled fiecrly, a mouse length away from my face "and now i wont have to see the disgraces i call my kits i anym-" "THORNPELT!!!!" Redtail shrieked from the entrance of the nursery, and immediatley the claws sheathed again, and he jumped away from us. "WHY IN STARCLAN ARE YOU DOING THIS?!" she meowed deseratley "because i..." he didnt finish, and ran out of the nursery d into the woods. By now, cats wer gathered outsid of the nursery "Redtail, what happened?!" Spiritheart meowed urgently "yeah what happened?" Windtail said. Redtail sat down and looked at the ground. "Nothing... please get Hazelstar..." she meowed numbly, and Angelwing ran to get her. Leafspot came in d examined our necks. "How does it feel?" She mewed to us "it hurts!" Lilykit squealed, and Leafspot looked at her sympathetically. Hazelstar bounded in and asked what happened. Redtail told her everything. "Im afraid this severily breaks the warrior code... so im afraid... Thornpelt is banished from Dawnclan..." (sorry its a bit rushed... out of space! Chapter one in the next result!)
Well written - Intensely Riviting - Certainly a "Must Read" Excerpted from Chapter 15, “A Higher Call” (Page 184)… “MEANWHILE, ABOVE OLDENBURG, GERMANY THE PUB DROPPED from the sky in a spin, accelerating as she passed through twenty-two thousand feet… twenty thousand… eighteen thousand… In the cockpit, gravity pulled Pinky’s limp body against the wall and Charlie across the gap between their seats. The fall continued to sixteen thousand feet… fourteen thousand… twelve thousand…
Some twenty seconds later the bomber spun through ten thousand feet, where its spiral broke into a nosedive. The plane plunged straight down. At low altitude, the cockpit began to flow with oxygen-rich air. Charlie regained consciousness. Shaking his head he saw the German landscape through his windscreen, rushing closer by the second. The ground was barely a mile below. Pressed back into his seat, Charlie strained for the controls. He gripped them and hauled back. ‘Pinky!’ Charlie yelled to his unconscious copilot. Pinky still wore his oxygen mask, one that ironically now prevented him from breathing. Charlie reached over and tore the mast from Pinky’s face. ‘Damn it, wake up!’ Charlie shouted. Pinky began to breath but remained unconscious…. ****************** The altimeter wound backward: 7,000 feet… 6,000… 5,000… Charlie strained with all his might. The trees and homes of the suburbs of Oldenburg came into focus. At three thousand feet, The Pub did something that no B-17 missing a stabilizer should have done. She stopped diving. For reasons inexplicable, her wings began to flutter. The plane flirted with the idea of lift. Charlie dug his heels into the rudder pedals and pulled back on the yoke with his whole body. The bomber’s wings took bigger bites of the air and surged at the taste. Passing beneath two thousand feet, after falling nearly five miles, the bomber’s wings began flying again. But the plane was still dropping. Charlie’s arms shook. Just when Charlie was sure The Pub was going to scrape the houses below, her nose lifted to the horizon and she leveled out… ****************** But there was an error in Doc’s course that neither he nor Charlie had spotted. When Doc drew their course on the violently convulsing map, he was so fixated on the flak rings that he had failed to see the course he drew would doge the village of Jever, but not its German airfield. FRANZ HEARD the bomber before he saw it. The ground crewmen had just strapped in the fresh belt of 20mm cannon shells and slammed shut the fighter’s engine cowling when a low drone emanated from south of the field, drawing everyone’s attention. There, several miles away, a B-17 flew toward them, so slow and so low it looked like it was coming in to land. The drone grew louder and deeper, like the thundering of a thousand bass drums. The sergeant’s eyes lit up. Franz flicked away his cigarette and climbed up the wing into his plane. The ground crewmen yanked the fuel lines. Tossing on his straps, Franz made a twirling motion with an outstretched finger, and two crewmen cranked the engine over. As the revolutions climbed, Franz tugged the starter lever and ignited his fighter’s engine…. ****************** BEHIND THE PUB, Franz’s 109 appeared, a small black spec racing above the forests. Climbing up from the treetops, Franz began his attack run. In his ball turret, curled around his guns, Blackie eyed the coast ahead, a finish line and invisible fence he longed to clear. He never considered that a firing squad of flak guns lay there. Nor did Blackie have any idea that his buddies in the fuselage above him were debating whether or not to bail out. Instead, he worked the triggers of his frozen guns, squeezing them, hoping the guns would thaw. They made a dull clicking sound. Remembering his duty, Blackie spun his turret to watch for enemy fighters. He planned to bluff them if they attacked. He stopped his spin when his guns faced the tail. ‘Dear Jesus,’ he muttered. There, a mile away, a 109 was climbing straight for him. Soon the 109 had climbed above Blackie’s line of sight. Blackie wanted to shout, but his microphone was dead. He wanted to slap his turret to summon
his buddies’ attention, but no one would have heard him. He was alone… ****************** Something’s wrong, Franz thought when he saw the tail guns pointing lifelessly to the earth. His eyes fixed on the bomber’s left stabilizer. He realized it had been shot away. ‘My God,’ he muttered. ‘How are you still flying?’ When the bomber’s wings filled his windscreen, Franz knew it was time to shoot. His finger arched on the trigger, ready to squeeze. But still the tail guns pointed silently downward… ****************** There, floating behind the B-17, Franz looked at the bomber with the curiosity of his boyhood, a time when he would run from his house at the sound of an airplane. In the rush of long-dormant emotions, Franz forgot he was a German fighter pilot. Franz had seen planes come back from battle shot to pieces. But he had never seen anything like this. Every foot of the bomber’s metal had silver holes from where bullets had entered and flaked away the paint. Kicking his rudder pedal and nudging the throttle forward a bit, Franz swung his 109 past the tail and flew along the bomber’s right side, parallel to the fuselage… ****************** From his turret, Blackie looked in shock at the 109 pilot. A minute before, Blackie had prepared to die, expecting the 109 pilot to shoot him from the sky after disappearing behind the tail. But the pilot had never fired. Now, instead, the German fighter pilot flew formation with the American bomber. Blackie abandoned his efforts to clear his guns. Instead, he folded his hands, ‘What are you waiting for?’ Blackie said quietly as the German’s eyes met his. The Franz Stigler who went to Africa to avenge his brother’s death would have had an answer. He would have destroyed the bomber and killed its crew. But there, in the desert, and over ancient Sicily, the last of Europe’s Knights had taught Franz Stigler a new code. Their code said to fight with fearlessness and restraint, to celebrate victories not death, and to know when it was time to answer a higher call…”
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 quietely 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 probably the most complete and best accounting I have ever read, especially from the German fighter pilot's side...it is absolutely brilliant. And as one who has been reading WWII and fighter pilot books for 30+ years, it stands head and shoulders above all the others in my opinion. Adam's coverage of the German fighter pilot's side was the most complete coverage I have ever read and it provided new insight into a side of things I never thought I'd be able to read. And American B-17 bomber pilot Charley Brown's insistance that Adam focus on German figher pilot Franz Stigler's side as the real story turned it from an interesting story to a poignant personal story of how things really were. Thank God that Charley Brown knew where the real story was and pushed for it to be told from that point of view. That turned the book from just a very good book into an amazing read. I believe this book has movie potential, it has a story quality seldom seen and I believe it deserves wide dissemination. I am thankful I found and responded to A Higher Call's back-page advertisement in The Smithsonian's Air &
Space magazine. Adam Makos came out with Hell of a first book, he has a real talent and I look forward to future books by him.
You can download from the link below http://theproductguide.net/books/A-Higher-Call/