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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
andldquo;Richard Rubin has done something that will never be possible for anyone to do again. His interviews with the last American World War I veteransandmdash;who have all since diedandmdash;bring to vivid life a cataclysm that changed our world forever but that remains curiously forgotten here.andrdquo;andmdash;Adam Hochschild, author of To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914andndash;1918
In 2003, 85 years after the end of World War I, Richard Rubin set out to see if he could still find and talk to someone who had actually served in the American Expeditionary Forces during that colossal conflict. Ultimately, he found dozens, aged 101 to 113, from Cape Cod to Carson City, who shared with him at the last possible moment their stories of Americaandrsquo;s Great War. Nineteenth-century men and women living in the twenty-first century, they were self-reliant, humble, and stoic, never complaining, but still marveling at the immensity of the war they helped win, and the complexity of the world they helped create. Though America has largely forgotten their war, you will never forget them, or their stories. A decade in the making, The Last of the Doughboys is the most sweeping look at Americaandrsquo;s First World War in a generation, a glorious reminder of the tremendously important role America played in the war to end all wars, as well as a moving meditation on character, grace, aging, and memory.
andldquo;An outstanding and fascinating book. By tracking down the last surviving veterans of the First World War and interviewing them with sympathy and skill, Richard Rubin has produced a first-rate work of reporting.andrdquo;andmdash;Ian Frazier, author of Travels in Siberia
andldquo;I cannot remember a book about that huge and terrible war that I have enjoyed reading more in many years.andquot;andmdash;Michael Korda, The Daily Beast
For the past decade, Richard Rubin sought every last living American veteran of World War Iand#8212;and uncovered a forgotten great generation, and their war.
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 bombers tail. The pilot is German ace Franz Stigler—and he can destroy the young American crew 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.”
The U.S. 8th Air Force would later classify what happened between them as top secret.” 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.
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 bomberandrsquo;s tailandmdash;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 dayandmdash;the Americanandmdash;2nd Lieutenant Charlie Brown, a former farm boy from West Virginia who came to captain a B-17andmdash;and the Germanandmdash;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 Franzandrsquo;s harrowing missions. Charlie would face takeoffs in English fog over the flaming wreckage of his buddiesandrsquo; 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 andldquo;top secret.andrdquo; 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
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.
Table of Contents
Prologue: No Manand#8217;s Landand#8195;ix
1.and#160;and#160; Wolves on the Battlefieldand#8195;1
2.and#160;and#160; Over the Topand#8195;15
3.and#160;and#160; The American Sectorand#8195;35
4.and#160;and#160; Cheer and Laughter and Joyous Shoutand#8195;72
5.and#160;and#160; The People Behind the Battleand#8195;94
6.and#160;and#160; The Forgotten Generationand#8195;111
7.and#160;and#160; Give a Little Credit to the Navyand#8195;123
8.and#160;and#160; A Vast Enterprise in Salesmanshipand#8195;142
9.and#160;and#160; Hell, We Just Got Hereand#8195;165
10.and#160;and#160; We Didnand#8217;t See a Thingand#8195;188
11.and#160;and#160; Loyal, True, Straight and Squareand#8195;216
12.and#160;and#160; Old Dixieland in Franceand#8195;243
14.and#160;and#160; A Wicked Gun, That Machine Gunand#8195;312
15.and#160;and#160; Wasnand#8217;t a Lot of Helpand#8195;346
16.and#160;and#160; The Last Night of the Warand#8195;389
17.and#160;and#160; The Last of the Lastand#8195;424
18.and#160;and#160; We Are All Missing You Very Muchand#8195;465
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