A Higher Call: An Incredible True Story of Combat and Chivalry in the War-Torn Skies of World War II By Adam Makos with Larry Alexander. New York: The Berkley Publishing Group, 2012. Photographs. Notes. Bibliography. Pp. viii, 392. $26.95 ISBN: 978-0-425-25286-4
German squadron leader Gustav Roedel said to Franz Stigler before his first mission in North Africa, Every single time you go up, you will be outnumbered. Those odds may make a man want to fight dirty to survive ... Honor is everything here ... If I ever see or hear of you shooting a man in a parachute, I will shoot you down myself.
A Higher Call is an essential read for anyone interested in examining the ethics of the "kill or be killed" environment of World War II aerial combat. Stigler's squadron leader delivered the above warning about ethical standards as a guidepost for Stigler. This warrior ethos is evident in numerous stories that provide the reader with an opportunity to view this complex survival experience from a unique perspective--that of a Luftwaffe fighter pilot fighting for a lost cause. Although this book shows both sides (Franz Stigler in the Luftwaffe as well as Charlie Brown in the Army Air Corps), Makos and Alexander spend most of their time describing Stigler's experience leading up to the unlikely encounter in December 1943. They do an excellent job of allowing the reader to ask the question: how should warriors navigate the complex decision-making terrain of combat, doing their duty while keeping their honor and humanity intact?
A Higher Call artfully depicts life within Germany during World War II and the desperate fight its professional military waged given impossible circumstances. The reader will find rich descriptions of life within the Luftwaffe, and how this force defined professionalism while engaged in the day-by-day grind of constant fighting over numerous years. This book is an excellent source for readers seeking understanding of what it was like to fight on the German side with limited resources while overwhelmingly outnumbered. It does for fighter pilots in the Luftwaffe what Das...