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A Higher Call: An Incredible True Story of Combat and Chivalry in the War-Torn Skies of World War IIby Adam Makos
Synopses & Reviews
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 bomberand#8217;s tailand#151;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 dayand#151;the Americanand#151;2nd Lieutenant Charlie Brown, a former farm boy from West Virginia who came to captain a B-17and#151;and the Germanand#151;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 Franzand#8217;s harrowing missions. Charlie would face takeoffs in English fog over the flaming wreckage of his buddiesand#8217; 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 and#147;top secret.and#8221; 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.
"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." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
In 1944, hundreds of Allied soldiers were trapped in POW camps in occupied France. The odds of their survival were long. The odds of escaping, even longer. But one-man had the courage to fight the oddsand#160;.and#160;.and#160;.
An elite British S.A.S. operative on an assassination mission gone wrong. A Jewish New Yorker injured in a Nazi ambush. An eighteen-year-old Gary Cooper lookalike from Mobile, Alabama. These men and hundreds of other soldiers found themselves in the prisoner-of-war camps off the Atlantic coast of occupied France, fighting brutal conditions and unsympathetic captors. But, miraculously, local villagers were able to smuggle out a message from the camp, one that reached the Allies and sparked a remarkable quest by an unlikelyand#151;and truly inspiringand#151;hero.
Andy Hodges had been excluded from military service due to a lingering shoulder injury from his college-football days. Devastated but determined, Andy refused to sit at home while his fellow Americans risked their lives, so he joined the Red Cross, volunteering for the toughest assignments on the most dangerous battlefields. In the fall of 1944, Andy was tapped for what sounded like a suicide mission: a desperate attempt to aid the Allied POWs in occupied Franceand#151;alone and unarmed, matching his wits against the Nazi war machine.
Despite the likelihood of failure, Andy did far more than deliver much-needed supplies. By the end of the year, he had negotiated the release of an unprecedented 149 prisonersand#151;leaving no one behind. This is the true story of one manand#8217;s selflessness, ingenuity, and victory in the face of impossible adversity.
THE NEW YORK TIMES AND INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER
December, 1943: A badly damaged American bomber struggles to fly over wartime Germany. At the controls is twenty-one-year-old Second Lieutenant Charlie Brown. Half his crew lay wounded or dead on this, their first mission. Suddenly, a Messerschmitt fighter pulls up on the bomberand#8217;s tail. The pilot is German ace Franz Stiglerand#151;and he can destroy the young American crew with the squeeze of a trigger...and#160;
What happened next would defy imagination and later be called and#147;the most incredible encounter between enemies in World War II.and#8221;
The U.S. 8th Air Force would later classify what happened between them as and#147;top secret.and#8221; It was an act that Franz could never mention for fear of 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 the world for each other, a last mission that could change their lives forever.
About the Author
Larry Alexander has been a journalist and columnist for the Intelligencer Journal newspaper in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, for more than a decade, winning numerous awards for excellence in journalism. He grew up on the same street in the same town as Major Dick Winters, three decades later.
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