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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 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 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 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 December 3, 2014
I just finished this at 1 AM and vowed to write an immediate review. See, I don't stay up til 1 AM for ANYTHING.

This book is essentially a narrative of two men in a difficult world, just living day-to-day until it is over. Both start from the point of view that as military fliers, they were initially somewhat removed from the daily death and destruction that is wrought of their jobs because they didn't see the faces of those who died from their missions. This distance, though, quickly disappeared as the human toll of their missions became more glaring.

Can any of you imagine that you'd be forced into a job where it is kill-or-be-killed on a daily basis? That is what war does and in this case, the people of Germany had no real choice in the matter. Using hate and bigotry, a vicious political minority set the country on a path of destruction that they never deserved. They were deliberately kept ignorant and fearful by the propaganda machine that knows that an ignorant and frightened populace is more easily controlled. (And remember, this is an important point today in this country.) The German people were every bit as victimized as those of other countries invaded by their dictator. And this dictator brought about great hardship and death and destruction to the country the German citizens loved. This simple fact comes forth, over and over again in this story and should be a lesson to all who prejudge others.

This book is well written and meticulously detailed to show the daily life of Hanz Stiegler as he struggled with his place in this mess. Of course, Charlie Smith and his crew's experience and struggles are also well detailed, but I think many Americans have at least a passing knowledge of the American experience in all of this. The German experience? Not so much.

I would hope that this book will be read by many more, but more importantly, that many will take lessons from it and step back to review their own lives and prejudices and how they're influenced by propaganda, within the framework of their new 'education'.
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VINE VOICEon September 9, 2015
Makos gets at what it was like to be a member of a WWII US Army Air Corps B17 bomber crew member in "A Higher Call".

The highlighted story is about a badly damaged B17 and its crew on its first mission. When it tried to make it back to England a German fighter pilot swooped down on it and soon realized that it was badly if not mortally crippled. Instead of shooting it down the fighter escorted the bomber over the heavily defended coast thus sparing the bomber from having to run a gauntlet of deadly flack. Why did he do it? Why not just shoot down he bomber and claim another air victory? This is the focus of this book.

Of course the book is about much more than this one encounter, it's about war, horror, battle, death, life, duty, and honor.

While not as compelling a tale as his more recent book "Devotion" Makos does a fine job of capturing what it may have been like to be a German fighter pilot and what it was like to be a bomber pilot.

The telling seemed less focused, er, a bit more diffuse than in "Devotion" and I had to wait and wonder when he was going to get to the main tale. Then once I got there it seemed somewhat like a marginal note than a center piece. That was OK, it played an important role in the big picture.

All in all this was a good read, but not a great one.

4 solid stars
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on July 6, 2014
A friend and I visited an aviation museum in McMinnville, Oregon. The docent who led our tour through the museum spoke about a painting he donated to the museum. It depicts the German fighter plane flying next to the crippled B-17 as the shoreline of the North Sea passes below. The docent told the story of the German pilot who did not shoot down a bloodied bomber crew, but allowed them to limp 300 miles back to a base in England. Thereby the German pilot answered a higher call to preserve life rather than destroy an enemy who might return later for more bomb runs.

The book is more than what led up to a remarkable encounter. It describes how aviators on both sides of the same war thought about their obligations and the sense of right and wrong they each brought to what they did. As a result, they were remarkably similar in the way they each thought. That is a second tale in the book and is every bit as significant as the encounter between a fighter plane and a crippled bomber.

Herman Goering's personality and attitudes became an additional story that offered insight about how and why the German people came to disdain the Luftwaffe, also into why the ME-262 Schwalbe jet fighter did not become a factor in the outcome of the war.

I found two inaccuracies in the book. First, the radio man on Ye Olde Pub (the B-17 in the story) is said to have labored over his radio with its tubes and transistor chips. Transistors were not invented until three years after the war ended. Electronic chips did not come along until the 1960s, maybe the late 1950s in some applications. And, second, I have driven through parts of Germany where the encounter between the two planes took place. This would be over Ostfriesland or Lower Saxony near Oldenburg, Jever, and Shortens. The book speaks about the pine trees of northern Germany. I remember plenty of deciduous trees, but no pine trees, although there may be a few here and there.

I recently read The Secret Agent (Stephan Talty) about Eric Erickson. He was an American of Swedish parents who sold petroleum to the Nazis after going back to Stockholm in the 1930s. He became an American spy and was able to convince the German High Command he was an ardent Nazi. He was able to get a pass that allowed him to tour petroleum refineries in Germany no questions asked, including the 25 plants producing synthetic petroleum from coal. He relayed their locations to London and the Allies bombed those facilities. A Higher Call mentions problems stemming from acute petroleum shortages late in the war. The two books reinforce one another.
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Adam Makos should take a bow. He's taken one small incident in WW2 Europe (small to us, the reader), one that had been hushed up by the US Army Air Force, and made not only a great book but a great history out of it. The main characters are both brave men, Franz Stigler, who goes from Lufthansa pilot to Luftwaffe Trainer, to fighter pilot, defending his country against the Allied Air Armada. But Stigler isn't a Nazi, in fact he is an excommunicated Catholic, who never loses his belief and in one wonderful moment of mercy (which would have gotten him killed), allows Charlie Brown, Farmboy turned pilot from West Virgina, to escape German skies in his battered B-17. For years the two men wondered if the other survived. I won't say more about the book, since that would spoil it for any readers, but I will say that that last few chapters put tears in my eyes. Mr. Makos brings both men to vivid life, letting us see that not every German was a Nazi, that some didn't allow the darkest time in German history to ruin them. I give this book the highest recommendation. Just a brilliant, brilliant book that deserves to be on the Kindle or bookshelf of every World War Two history buff. Bravo, Mr. Makos!A Higher Call: An Incredible True Story of Combat and Chivalry in the War-Torn Skies of World War II
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on February 11, 2018
The writing is a bit choppy in the first few chapters, especially in those which recount the German's story - almost as if it was written in German and translated into English. Perhaps this was even intentional, though it makes the reading a tad tedious in parts. But, the story was so good that I felt compelled to keep reading. And I'm sure glad I did - the writing gets better as the book continues, and the story is just wonderful!
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