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on December 14, 2012
I loved this book.

I thought I knew the premise of the story before downloading it, but by the end of the first few chapters I realized this was so much more then the brief first encounter of the main characters. It's a story of two young men, on opposites sides of the war, sharing the same experiences- fighting to keep sane and survive the horrors of WWII.

You are introduced to Franz (the German pilot) first and then Charlie's story (the American pilot) is intertwined later on. There is no way to read Franz's portion without being in awe of what he survived-multiple bail outs, crashes, and over 480 missions. Being introduced to Franz first makes his run-in with Charlie's plane all the more remarkable - here was this battle-hardened pilot who showed unbelievable compassion, knowing if he were caught it would mean his own life.

The authors do a fantastic job of seamlessly moving between the characters and you get so attached to them that I found myself hesitating when turning the pages because I wanted the ones I liked to live a bit longer. I finished it hours ago, but I know I'm going to reread my favorite chapters before bed tonight!
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on December 15, 2012
First, I need to let all readers know that I worked on this book, supplying Adam with some of my research and interview materials. When I reviewed the manuscript, he had already created a solid work. The book is completely factual, all parties and events mentioned are depicted as they were, and I knew and interviewed all the persons mentioned with exception to Charlie Brown.

Franz was an excellent pilot, a great man, a humanist, who hated the war and despised the Nazi Party, but loved flying. His Catholic background and his having been exposed to the honorable men he flew with, such as Ludwig Franzisket, Gustav Rodel, Werner Schroer, Johannes Steinhoff, Eduard Neumann, Emil Clade, Friedrich Korner, Adolf Galland, and especially Hans-Joachim Marseille reinforced that sense of chivalry, and code of honor among these airmen that is often overlooked in the post war propaganda and the maelstrom of uneducated bias.

I suggest that this book, which is ironically in competetion with The Star of Africa, written by my wife and I, be read in public schools and by the average American. Even if you are not an aviation or history enthusiast, the human element and drama should be enough to justify your time. What the readers will also learn is that Franz, despite his humanist streak, was not that unusual among the men of the Luftwaffe. His experiences with JG-27 in North Africa, and the exposure he had to the previously mentioned men, especially Marseille, and the impressions left upon him, helped mold his attitude.

I highly recommend this book, and I hope that this work receives all of the positive recognition that it deserves. Franz and Charlie were not unique men, but they were both very fortunate to have crossed paths. Their post war friendship, much like that of Col. Joe Peterburs who shot down Oberleutnant Walter Schuck in his Me-262, is something special. This book points this fact out. Once the guns fall silent, the professional warriors set aside their differences. That is what Edu Neuman called the ingredient "that separates us from the animals." Highly recommended as a History and Military Book Club selection.
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on July 13, 2015
I am an avid reader and a picky one at that. If I start reading a book and in does not grab me within 5-10 minutes I will put it down. However this book punched me dead in the face within a few pages. I had just finished the book unbroken and was keen on finding another great WW2 book. So I searched around and came across A higher Call and bam I was in love. This is one of the greatest books I have ever read. My girlfriend who has no interest in war stories was hooked as well when she would see me get all emotional as I was reading the book next to her. She would ask me narrate to her what I was reading and she wanted to hear more and more. This book is not just the story of two war veterans, its the story of good people like most of us are being thrown into a situation where your duty to your country requires killing and somehow in the face of that finding the compassion and courage to do good. I always saw the war from the eyes of the allies, but this book showed me the war from the eyes of the enemy, but a good and honorable enemy. An enemy who himself hated the Nazis and felt the Nazis where the enemy not the Americans or English. The book shows you that not all the Germans in the war were evil bastards. The way Franz cried for a bear who lost his life because of the evils of the Germans and the death of this bear hurt Franz as much as the loss of his own blood brother tells you the compassion and moral standing of the great man. Not only was he a great man but he served in a airforce filled with great men. Men who would shoot Americans and English out of the sky but would worry if the SS troopers would find them and throw the downed pilots into concentration camps. Men who would put their own lives at risk to protect and rescue these downed pilots out of honor because they may have been the enemy but they were aeronautical brothers. This book changed my whole view on those who served in the German military. Before I read this book i would never have saluted a German WW2 veteran, but now so long as they were not sworn Nazis I will gladly salute a German Air force veteran. This book is a must read.
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on December 20, 2012
A Higher Call by Adam Makos: Review by Tom Gauthier
How often do you have trouble reading the last page of an action packed war story because of the blur of tears? First time for me, as I finished Adam Makos new book A Higher Call.
After eight years of painstaking research, Makos has produced a singular piece of work: the true and incredible story of two pilots who locked eyes--and I feel locked souls--across a span of deadly sky over Nazi Germany in 1943, changing the fortunes and the futures of all who were there.
Adam Makos provides us a close-up of the American experience, before during and after this incident. But he also, and in marvelously rich detail, gives us a rare look into the machinations of the Luftwaffe, again, before the war and through to the very end.
.... Engines failed, damage was extensive to flight surfaces, yet under the strong hands of their young pilot, Charlie Brown, the ship remained precariously in the air. Back in the plane's fuselage the crew was bravely caring for each other--some with grievous wounds. As they approached the European coastline, Charlie knew that any moment the coastal flak guns would open up and finish them off.
Suddenly, from behind and below them a FW-109 climbed up from the treetops and began its attack run on the helpless Pub. With all guns frozen the crew could only watch with the resignation of pending death. At the controls of the 109, Franz Stigler, an experienced ace saw the target that would raise his "kill" count. But he didn't kill. I will not herein tell you what transpired in the minds of the American airman or the German pilot. It is something you must read for yourself and let it sink in to your soul, as I did.

Charlie Brown and Franz Stigler survived the war. There was no official mention of Stigler's saving Ye Olde Pub in American records. In Germany, he could say nothing and hope no one recognized his plane from the ground--or it would be a firing squad for him.
The story of their meeting decades later and the ability to share the personal feelings of all who were touched by the incident near Christmas 1943 over Germany. Here's where I began to tear up.
Adam Makos has brought us an action packed adventure story. But he has done it through the eyes, souls, fears, and personal travails of both the Germans and the Americans. Yes it's a war story, but more than that it's a warriors' story--humanized but not trivialized like we've never seen before. Vicious and deadly battle could not snuff chivalry and a higher call. It's is so good to be reminded of this through a real life story.
A Higher Call is a must read.

Dr. Tom Gauthier, MBA, Psy.D.
International Award Winning Novelist
Co-host of Military Author Radio
Military Writers' Society of America
U.S. Air Force Veteran
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on December 21, 2012
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 down the bomber and it's crew, 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 wondered, "Was it worth it?". It took 46 years for Stigler to find out that the bomber did return home safely and to finally meet the American bomber pilot, Charlie Brown.

Author Adam Makos provides all the descriptions of battle, dog-fighting and heroism you would expect in a book of this nature but he really focuses on the human side, on the losses. Character after character are introduced only to die. The story of one young German flier is heartbreaking. In the last days of the war he told Stigler that he was going to return home, surrender and that he hoped to study engineering. Stigler asked if he wanted to take just one flight in an Me-262, the world's first operational jet fighter. The boy said yes. Since American bombing had stopped two days before, Stigler thought it would be a safe, quick flight, but the jet's engines cut out and the plane went down. Stigler raced to the crash sight and was able to arrive in time for the boy to ask Stigler to say goodbye to his mother and sister for him. The boy died in Stigler's arms. So many wasted lives.

While the description of Stigler escorting the bomber to safety is moving, the scene that meant the most to me was at a veterans reunion where Charlie Brown introduced Stigler to two of the crewmen who had been onboard the bomber that Stigler spared. As the four men hugged and cried they were joined by the descendants of the American fliers -- people who owed their lives to the act of generosity and kindness shown by Franz Stigler. Stigler and Brown remained close friends until their deaths, both in 2008.

It took 46 years for Stigler to get an answer to the question that had haunted him for so long. Yes, it was worth it.
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on July 5, 2015
Oddly enough I have had a desktop Background of this exact situation on my laptop for at least the last year
before running across this excellent read.
I found a deep new respect for the german pilots of WWII and was very surprised at the conditions they
lived through both during and after the war.
One thing I had never thought of was that they didn't get to go home after say 25 missions or 1 year tour of duty as many of the Allies pilots did.
For them it was start to finish.
Every Aviation history buff needs to read this fine account of the Charlie Brown and Franz Stigler incident.
The photo I added is the background I spoke of.
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on April 3, 2017
This is the story of Franz Stigler and Charlie Brown, two World War II pilots. Franz was a German fighter pilot. Charlie was an American bomber pilot. Their planes met in an air battle in December 1943, but due to very unusual circumstances, they ended their encounter without having shot each other from the sky. Author Adam Makos researched this remarkable story for over eight years before he published it. I was very impressed with his list of sources at the end of his book.

Although Mr. Makos tells the story of both men, most of the book concentrates on Stigler, describing his youth, his desire to be a pilot, his incredible skills and bravery, his attempt to deal with the horrors of war, and ultimately, his disillusionment with Germany's path in the war. Neither Stigler nor his family were members of the Nazi Party, but as a military man, Stigler followed orders and did what he thought necessary to protect his homeland from British and American bombing raids. After the war ended, he found himself scorned by fellow Germans, who had been misled by German wartime propaganda to believe that their own pilots were not trying hard enough to beat The Allies.

The human interest factor about the December battle and the two enemies' attempts to find each other over 40 years after the war ended is fascinating and poignant, especially as it would become a reunion of two people who never knew each other's names.

Aircraft fans should be quite interested in the very thorough description of the various WWII era planes. I found myself skimming over those parts to concentrate on the human interactions and the stark realities of war.

This is an enlightening nonfiction read. Prepare yourself for some very disheartening, gruesome descriptions of the personal consequences and sacrifices made by the pilots.
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on March 20, 2017
This is a fascinating story and a great anti-war book. I grew up being taught in schools that the United States were the good people in the Second World War. This story, as the American Charles Brown pointed out, revolves around a pilot that was born in Germany instead of someplace else. He was performing his duties in the war just as his American counterpart. Throughout the book, the majority of the story revolves around the character, the honor, the dedication to country of Frank Stigler, the German pilot of the book. Stigler has the incredible compassion to not shoot down an American B-17 returning to England severely damaged after the crew's first bombing sortie. Stigler had lost a brother in the war and could not bring himself to destroy a limping, barely flying B-17 with obviously wounded airmen on board. Stigler's actions, if made known to superiors, would result in a firing squad. The majority of this book is a marvelous behind the scenes look at how Franz Stigler existed in a very desperate country losing the war. It is a scary look at the mismanagement of resources and waste of human lives in Germany during the war. The fact that these two fliers were able to survive the war and reunite years later as extremely close friends is the best happy ending possible. For a book about the best sides of human decency and tremendous character, read this book. Those with knowledge of World War II history, will enjoy the training, tactics, and hazards of flying out of England in heavy bombers as well as the other side flying in ME 109's attempting to stop the destruction of Germany. Sad that thousands of young men, doing the duty fate cast on them, died in service to their respective counties.
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on May 13, 2016
I just finished this last night and I can't stop thinking about it. What an amazing story......people can't make this kind of stuff up, which is why I prefer the true stories like this one. I love how the author wove us into the lives of Franz Stigler and Charlie Brown -- so we got to know them even before we reached the main event of the story. We got to know this German Air Force pilot -- and he was just another man, doing his job to defend his country. I was quite surprised at how the German Air Force didn't really associate with the Nazi Party, and how they had their own strict rules, like not shooting down a man who was in a parachute. I guess like most people, I figured they were all Nazi's, but they weren't, and I found myself daring to really like Franz as I got to know him in the book. Then comes Charlie Brown, and hearing his antics of buzzing his house in his small town in West Virginia -- and getting to know his crew mates was a delightful read. Reading how their lives were on the base in England made me feel that I was an observer in their lives. Then there was that flight -- and I felt like I was in the plane with them as they kept getting hit - one after another and thinking "oh no they are going down" -- and I know I was reading faster and faster, probably skipping more words than reading them, just to get to the highlight to find out what happened. I won't give anything away, but trust me -- coming from a woman who also happens to love US History stories - especially TRUE ones -- this book is fantastic. Even if you aren't a history buff, this is still an amazing story. I would give this book 10 stars if I could. It definitely needs to be made into a movie -- HOLLYWOOD are you listening? Make this book into a movie but for crying out loud, don't change the story. It doesn't need it! HIGHLY RECOMMEND this book!
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on April 28, 2017
This is an excellent story. At first I was a little put off by the focus on Stigler and all of his missions but as I continued reading I saw that the comprehensive history (of both Stigler and Brown) was necessary to adequately set the stage for everything that followed. The more I read the more entranced I became. I love how it all came together in a wonderful culmination of events at the book's conclusion. It interested me so much I made a point of looking up the videos (which, by the way, if you do this without reading the book first, you'll be cheating yourself of truly understanding the story and its significance.) I love the history, the appreciation I gain for our service men and women and the ultimate humanity (albeit, sadly, along with cruelty and tragedy) that rests in hearts on both sides of war. I appreciate the author's TEMPERED use of offensive language. Descriptions of events pertinent to servicemen and war are well-balanced between accuracy and excessive explicitness. Some people refrain from reading books about WWII because they're afraid of becoming depressed. Not so with this story. Read it and be inspired.
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