As a kid, I grew up with a love of reading and a passion for vintage aircraft. There was nothing I enjoyed more than to combine those two and reading about the exploits of fighter and bomber pilots during the two World Wars. So when my mate Adam handed me A Higher Call and said that he had thoroughly enjoyed it, it leaped on the chance to get into a good war book again.
The book covers an event that happened during the second World War when a shot up B-17 bomber was chased by a German fighter. On arriving at the bomber, the fighter pilot (Franz Stigler) could not believe that the bomber was still in the air due to all of the damage that it had sustained. Rather than taking an easy kill and shooting it down, the Stigler flew alongside it and escorted it overland and out across the ocean on a homeward passage. By doing so, he prevented the gun batteries on the ground from shooting at the bomber, and as a result most of the bomber crew survived.
This key moment only takes up a small amount of the book, the majority of it covers the life story of the Stigler, from when he was a boy learning to fly gliders to his enrolment in the air force, and after the event in the months when the German forces were retreating and the air force was falling apart. I found the section on the end of the war very interesting, how things were fragmented, and how some leaders were scrambling for power and others just gave up. Great stuff.
There is very little background given on Charlie Brown – the bomber pilot – or his crew, in fact when we first meet them, it is as they are prepping to fly their first mission, the mission in which the event occurs. This was a very enjoyable book, but I think it could have been made even better by the inclusion of more background on the bomber crew.
This was a good read, and if you have an interest in war history, I think you will love it.