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Wind, Sand and Stars (Penguin Modern Classics) Paperback – 25 May 2000


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Product details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (25 May 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141183195
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141183190
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 1.1 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 12,903 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Writer and aviator, Antoine Jean-Baptiste Marie Roger de Saint-Exupéry was born on 29 June, 1900 in Lyon, France.

Saint-Exupéry studied architecture at the Ecole de Beaux-Arts. In 1921, he began his military service with the light cavalry, and trained as a pilot in Strasbourg. A year later he obtained his license and was offered transfer to the airforce.

Due to objections from the family of his fiancée, Saint-Exupéry instead took an office job in Paris. His engagement to Leveque de Vilmorin was not to last, and for the next few years he had a series of unsuccessful jobs.

By 1926, Saint-Exupéry resumed his love for flying, and he became one of the pioneers of international postal flight. Saint-Exupéry's career as an aviator was flourishing and by 1929, he became director of Cape Juby airfield in Morocco, then moved to South America being appointed director of the Aeroposta Argentina Company.

In the same year, he wrote his first book, Southern Mail. His first major work, Night Flight was published in 1931.

On December 30, 1945, Saint-Exupéry and his navigator, André Prévot, embarked on a record-breaking attempt to fly from Paris to Saigon. Nineteen and a half hours into the flight, their plane crashed in the Sahara desert. Both survived the crash but spent three days battling dehydration, limited food and hallucinations. On the fourth day, they were rescued by a camel-riding Bedouin. In part, this experience was the inspiration for The Little Prince, which begins with a pilot being marooned in the desert.

Saint-Exupéry continued to fly until World War II, during which he took self-imposed exile. He retreated to New York and stayed in the village of Asharoken, Long Island where he spent the summer and autumn writing The Little Prince. The manuscript was completed by October 1942.

On 31 July 1944, a year after his book was published, Saint-Exupéry disappeared over the Mediterranean while flying a reconnaissance mission for his French air squadron, the Armée de l'Air.

Product Description

About the Author

The French Writer and aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1900-1944), was born in Lyon. His first two books, SOUTHERN MAIL and NIGHT FLIGHT, are distinguished by a poetic evocation of the romance and discipline of flying. Later works, including WIND, SAND AND STARS and FLIGHT TO ARRAS, stress his humanistic philosophy. Saint-Exupéry's popular children's book THE LITTLE PRINCE is also read by adults for its allegorical meaning. Saint-Exupéry's plane disappeared during a mission in World War II.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

105 of 110 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 18 April 2001
Format: Paperback
I know a man who sees beauty in everything around him - the expression on people's faces, the way the wind blows things round, in smells and everywhere else. For him too, "Wind, Sand and Stars" has been a guide his whole life.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery was one of the pioneers of flying aeroplanes, first with Aeropostale between France and Northern Africa, and later trans-Atlantic flights from South America. This book is a collection of wonderful tales and deep insights from that life.
In his time, aeroplane engines were far from reliable, and his experiences of crash landing in the Sahara desert, or the Chilean Andes, are astounding. Face to face with life and death, his mind has given birth to the most beautiful paragraphs of enlightened prose I have read.
[I am uncomfortable with the translation of William Rees. Maybe it is because I had read first an earlier translation by Lewis Galantiere (now unavailable). Galantiere had convinced de Saint-Exupery to include passages in the English version that had been left out of the French, and a few other changes. Maybe it is merely "familiarity breeds contempt", but I feel the Rees translation to be inferior. ]{****NOTE to AMAZON: this paragraph may be unsuitable as it refers to another edition.}
This book is my bible. The tenderness and beauty of his observations and view of what is essential is special. Fiercely exciting descriptive passages are blended perfectly with reflections and wisdom. This is my No.1 book of all time.
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful By P. Crayford on 3 Feb. 2009
Format: Paperback
Having read hundreds of Amazon book reviews over the years, and getting through a varied array of works along the way, Saint-Exupery's novel (this is my first) is the only one that has compelled me to jot down my thoughts, and more importantly, give my whole-hearted recommendation.

I think that the other reviewers have done a fine job in summing up the man, his work, and how it can relate to us all on some level. I put the book down on finishing it and went off to do some chore, my mind elevated to some stratosphere it had never entertained before. Having returned in the evening I immediately lifted it off the side and whizzed through it again. This is far from common in terms of my reading habits.

The last chapter 'Men' will leave the enlightened soul breathless with its observation and insight. In these failing economic times the pitch and resonance of Saint-Exupery's words remain strong.

This book is accessible, wondrous, and timeless. I cannot recommend this novel enough.
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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 22 April 1998
Format: Paperback
Saint-Exupery disappeared in North Africa in 1943 while flying reconnaissance flights for the American forces. After reading Wind, Sand and Stars one has a sense that this writer/philosopher, who is probably most well known for his fable The Little Prince, was well prepared for his life to end in this way.
In the opening lines of the original French version Saint-Exupery writes:
"The earth teaches us more about ourselves than all the books.
Because it resists us. Man discovers himself when he measures
himself against the obstacle"

Wind, Sand and Stars is intensely autobiographical as it tells us of this man's adventures from his beginnings as a pilot with the air mail service over France, Spain and North Africa before World War I, through to his musings as an observer of the Spanish Civil War. But far more than an adventurer, Saint-Exupery writes like a poet and has the heart of a philosopher. This wonderful book (a credit to the translator from the original French) has incredibly rich descriptive passages in which he lays out for the reader the details observed in the natural world and the response that these evoke in his mind, heart and soul.
In one section of the book (which a reader familiar with The Little Prince cannot help but conclude was inspirational for that work) Saint-Exupery describes at length his near-death experience after crashing in the Libyan desert, and wandering for days without water or hope:
"Apart from your suffering, I have no regrets. All in all, it has been
a good life. If I got free of this I should start right in again. A man
cannot live a decent life in cities, and I need to feel myself live. I
am not thinking of aviation. The aeroplane is a means, not an end.
Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mick Read on 15 Mar. 2012
Format: Paperback
A simply wonderful book. Antoine de Saint-Exupery's matter-of-fact style recounts his extraordinary life in the early part of the twentieth century as a pilot for the nascent air mail company Aeropostale, initially operating between France and North Africa and subsequently in South America. This was a world of pioneer aviators who were doing a job rather than seeking fame and glory by setting records, but set records they did.
Flying with an engineer-cum-navigator, they made the original maps of some of the remotest regions on earth as they flew them for the first time. Saint-Exupery clearly holds his contemporary airmen in the highest esteem and yet, with no obvious attempt at false humility, does not see himself as being amongst their exalted number. He clearly was.

The prose achieves a Spartan clarity and natural beauty that is as breathtaking as the story it tells. Saint-Exupery exists in a bubble, never mentioning whatever else is going on in the world around him, focussing entirely on man, machine, experience, never trying to place it in a "bigger picture" and, for that, and for brief spell of this novel, one can enter a world of discovery that was over in the blink of an eye.

You will want to read it again.
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