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Promise at Dawn: A Memoir (Revived Modern Classic) Paperback – April 17, 1987


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Promise at Dawn: A Memoir (Revived Modern Classic) + Romain Gary: A Tall Story
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Product Details

  • Series: Revived Modern Classic (Book 635)
  • Paperback: 348 pages
  • Publisher: New Directions Publishing (April 17, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811210162
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811210164
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #587,285 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English, French (translation)

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Denis on January 2, 2004
Format: Paperback
"Promise at Dawn" is the first book of what can be considered as Romain Gary's Memoir ( this books ends with the end of WWII but Romain Gary's lived until December 2nd, 1980). Romain Gary was the only writer to be awarded twice the "Prix Goncourt" (the famous French litterary prize) , he was diplomat, movie maker, and a true lover of America. "Promise at Dawn" like most of his books is full of adventures, travels, unexpected meetings, love for life and a communicative optimism. This book made his mother a legend in the French litterature: she epitomizes the love of a mother for her son. "In Promise at Dawn", we live and breathe with Romain Gary during his early years: from his birth in Moscow in 1914 until his return to France after the Liberation.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Yevgeny N. Kuznetsov on February 9, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Life as a Work of Art

This autobiography is a story of self-discovery which is at once charmingly engaging and profoundly deep. This book is one of two of my absolute favorites. I am a native speaker of Russian and I also read a lot in Spanish -- this is not to boast, but to show that I know to what to compare to. And surely there are books which are better written, not to mention more famous. And yet, as other reviews indicate, I am not alone. How come?

Literature and in art general is often intellectualized, taken too seriously and made separate from everyday experiences of life. But experience of reading a book is actually could be just like another experience: observing the beauty of nature, doing Yoga on the mat, staying in a challenges situation in everyday life or having a good conversation with a friend. In all those experiences we discover what we are and what we are capable of. And the book we read, we really read only to the extent that there is something in it which resonates with us and own worldview. The great book is only great for us as it speaks to each us individually while it articulating our own yearnings and dim glimmering. This is one such great book.

Paraphrasing Nietzsche, it is a story about life as a work of art. The author constantly finds itself in impossible situations when he faces multiple conflicting constraints; in fact it is sheer impossibility of these life situations which makes them believable: fantasy rarely stretches as far as exigencies of real life do. Making creativity a way of life, Gari always finds spectacular solutions, sometime more so, sometimes less but always creative and unpredictable. He says he has no choice, he promised his mother (hence 'Promise at Dawn').
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 11, 1998
Format: Paperback
Renew your faith in the human spirit. Read this wonderful memoir about a courageous single parent and her gifted child. Warmth, pathos, humor, it's all here. There's adventure too as the author takes you on a geographic and spiritual pilgrimage from Russia to France, and then escapes as a fighter pilot to England in 1940.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful By "joey-b" on July 15, 2000
Format: Paperback
No other writer I have ever read possesses such a deep understanding of the world. He is a philosopher, a social critic, a romantic and an incredible writer. His books bring me to tears, not because they are sad, but because they are beautiful. I have read Promise at Dawn several times, and each time it fills me with a yearning for life. I recommend this book, and all he has ever written, very highly.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 6, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Romain was a facinating character and a tremendous writer. As a lover of literature and a writer myself-I highly recommend this book. I read approximately 300-400 books a year and this is the best I have ever read, in my opinion. My favorite line: "it occured to me that life lies on sunny days." I cried, I laughed and I grew. What more can you ask from a book? Too bad, more are not written by like Promises At Dawn.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Roger K. Ward on June 29, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book needs no review; it is simply a beautifully written, remarkable literary work. I have read it in both the French original and the English translation. Mr. Beach's translation obviously was a painstaking process due to superb quality of the end product. A must read.
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Format: Paperback
This is not only one of the best memoirs of World War II, it is an awesomely endearing work of the mysteries of love. There is the love of the mother for France; the mother for the boy; the boy for France, which allows him to become a great warrior and man of letters; and more.... I shall not give away the surprise, but be prepared for an awesome discovery the last tenth of the work. I refer here to the 1500 letters that the mother wrote him during his years in England, when flying his Boston Bomber against the Nazis.

One point: it does not show the great intellectual courage of the man... After getting type-cast as a famed author, he saw fit to publish new works under another name, and these too became best -sellers. Can we name one other man so gutsy to do such a thing?
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It is most interesting, and the translation is very good and reflects his style in French which is not always the case. Fascinating
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