A Higher Call: An Incredible True Story of Combat and Chivalry in the War-Torn Skies of World War II.

Author:Huddleston, Robert
Position:Book review
 
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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 (Reviewed in the Fall 2014 APH by a different reviewer with a different conclusion)

A Higher Call is an engaging tale from the European air war. It is classified as a history and biography. The historian, Adam Makos, no doubt contributed the historical parts; while the journalist, Larry Alexander, contributed the biography. Most of the "biography" comes from interviews, with the historian simply placing the personal stories in the context of the war. Alexander, using an exceptional amount of quoted dialogue, added to the story; but his sources are limited. The result is a blend of what the subject, German pilot Franz Stigler, said about his Luftwaffe service and what the autobiographer has added. Stigler and the American bomber pilot, Charlie Brown, both died in 2008.

The thrust of Stigler's story is that the moral compass of German pilots and the Luftwaffe was superior to those of the US Army Air Forces. In addition to Stigler's response to a higher call when he decided not to destroy a crippled American bomber, he enhances the character of the Germans while denigrating Americans with examples both silly and serious. As examples, Luftwaffe fighter pilots claim a "victory" upon destroying an enemy aircraft, Americans a "kill." Germans were ordered not to fire at an enemy in a parachute. American pilots and gunners, however, were "known" to kill the helpless enemy; and pilots were warned that American fighters would also strafe them on landing when entangled in their parachutes. Perhaps there were such...

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