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Wind, Sand And Stars (Harvest Book) Kindle Edition
About the Author
ANTOINE DE SAINT-EXUPÉRY, the "Winged Poet," was born in Lyon, France, in 1900. A pilot at twenty-six, he was a pioneer of commercial aviation and flew in the Spanish Civil War and World War II. His writings include The Little Prince, Wind, Sand and Stars, Night Flight, Southern Mail, and Airman's Odyssey. In 1944, while flying a reconnaissance mission for his French air squadron, he disappeared over the Mediterranean.
--This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
- ASIN : B009SS1QIA
- Publisher : Mariner Books; First edition (January 1, 2010)
- Publication date : January 1, 2010
- Language : English
- File size : 862 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Sticky notes : On Kindle Scribe
- Print length : 184 pages
- Best Sellers Rank: #245,739 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from the United States
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The author mastered the technical skills, but also the art of flying. His book captures the sheer exuberance of flight, and the excitement of a nighttime aerial crossing of the Sahara. Likewise, he relates finding passages through the 21,000 ft Andes with a plane whose "ceiling" is 18,000 ft. Along with his technical skills, and his descriptive powers, he brings the intellect of a philosopher to his writings. Consider his rebuke to the Luddites among us: "Numerous, nevertheless, are the moralists who have attacked the machine as the source of all the ills we bear, who, creating a fictitious dichotomy, have denounced the mechanical civilization as the enemy of the spiritual civilization." (p 43) And for those amongst us who have been thrilled to the austere beauty of the desert, including myself: "I shall never be able to express clearly whence comes this pleasure men take from aridity, but always and everywhere I have seen men attach themselves more stubbornly to barren land than to any other. Men will die for a calcined, leafless, stony mountain. The nomads will defend to the death their great store of sand as if it were a treasure of gold dust. And we, my comrades and I, we too have loved the desert to the point of feeling that it was there we had lived the best years of our lives." (p84) Or later: "...it was here in the desert he possessed his veritable treasures--this prestige of the sand, the night, the silence, this homeland of wind and stars." (p105)
A strong theme in this book is the lost potential in each person, the contrast between what they could have become, and what they have settled for, once the routines have hardened. Consider: "Nobody grasped you by the shoulder while there was still time. Now the clay of which you were shaped has dried and hardened, and naught in you will ever awaken the sleeping musician, the poet, the astronomer that possibly inhabited you in the beginning." (p11). He ends the book on this theme, writing of the child Mozarts throughout the world: "This is a life full of beautiful promise." Saint-Exupery realizes he won't make it to his potential, won't soar among the stars: "This little Mozart will be shaped like the rest by the common stamping machine. This little Mozart will love shoddy music in the stench of night dives. This little Mozart is condemned."
Saint-Exupery is most famous for his children's classic, also of potential and loss, "The Little Prince." This book is a most worthy complement for adults, particularly those who have fought the hardening of their own clay. The author lived as he wrote, perhaps taking one too many chances. His plane crashed in the Mediterranean during WW II, but his mission at the time appeared not to be related to the war, but rather the oldest and most common of peccadilloes, the pleasures of the flesh. The airport in his place of birth, Lyon, is named after him.
Overall, an excellent read, even if you are stuck in the middle seat.
That said, I can't help but imagine that this book inspired many a youth to pursue a career (or at least a hobby) in flying; the depictions of flight and the landscapes he flew over (and sometimes crashed into), especially the desert, have a haunting beauty, and with the benefit of retrospect, carry with them a note of nostalgia for times gone by. For while Saint-Exupery's interests and his story are ultimately a universal one, the tale itself is very much a product of its time: the twilight of colonialism, the dawn of modernity. Saint-Exupery is clearly a proud product of a powerful, if fading, empire, and even while sympathizing with Others who are not from that heritage, he will occasionally write passages that will be offensive to the more culturally aware 21st century reader. For some readers, this might be an unforgivable flaw, but for me at least I believe one can tell from his writings that Saint-Exupery's heart is in the right place, even if his perspective is colored by the colonial mindset from whence he came. At the same time, the beginnings of the modern age make for an exciting time, and the frontier for this age is clearly in the sky, not on earth. The danger and, dare I say, the "adventure" of flight give Saint-Exupery a unique and philosophical perspective ... it is hard to think of what similar "living on the edge" type frontier exists today that combines danger, adventure, and contemplative solitude ... it is hard to think of a modern day "mail pilot" for UPS or FedEx having quite the same philosophical musings today as a mail pilot in his day. Perhaps one day space will indeed live up to its moniker as the final frontier, but for the moment at least, space does not quite represent what the sky in the 1920s and 1930s did. At the same time, Saint-Exupery is clearly wary of this modernity ... the horrors of the Spanish Civil War clearly foreshadow the even more horrible events of World War II. While we do not currently live in a world at war quite in the same way as his was becoming, the strife and conflict which abounds today makes Saint-Exupery's words no less meaningful. And, again, this was his purpose--his thoughts are not bound by time or place, even if his particular experiences were.
A gripping tale and beautifully eternal message for those of us living on this Land of Men.
Top reviews from other countries
So I was a little intrigued to read this book, the introduction does not spoil the rest of the text, or so I found, and its safe to read it if you want to get a sort of overview of what follows. The rest of the book are a number of thoughtful essays, on the experiences of an early pilot transporting mail, in very dangerous conditions, a hard, eventful life, full of loss and meaning. It is very readable, the style of writing is really good and I only felt like skipping pages once or twice when I thought that the eulogies to friends or colleagues extended a bit further than was to my liking, although I entirely understood why this was so at the same time. It is a kind of testimonial.
The book has the very best writing I have ever encountered, bar none, about the desert, the Sahara, the people who live there etc. This is a complete aside, I would guess, but I definitely enjoyed these parts more than others as they made me think of the science fiction novel Dune and the desert living tribesmen, The Freemen, I would definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoyed that novel for those aspects.
There is also some great content about the Spanish Civil War, discussion of what motivated the various factions in that conflict, relating the awakening ideological devotion at that time to his own experience of a rescue in the desert. Its a book full of insight about life, living and it is very life affirming, without exhibiting any ideological messages, and I liked the simple idea that if you wish to convince someone of the horrors of war you should not simply dismiss them as a barbarian but attempt to see things as they do. It might be a simple enough insight about communication but it seems important, then and now.
I also liked the depiction of a different time and how they then dealt with the experience of loss and trauma too. Even before the civil war content it is clear that the flying the mail to its destination is a particularly dangerous affair, frequently pilots and their aircraft are lost, sometimes the pilots fly with the knowledge that their trip is a virtual kamikazi mission and there is no shortage of courage involved. The vital important of connectedness/relatedness to others and contact is what I took from the book in dealing with those kinds of scenarios. Recommended.
This may be a post COVID norm, but the cover of this April 2020 purchase is matt and the paper quality throughout is poor. It feels like a self publish/print rather than a bona fide Penguin Modern Classic.