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Wind, Sand and Stars (Penguin Modern Classics) [Paperback]

Antoine Saint-Exupery
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
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Book Description

25 May 2000 Penguin Modern Classics

Both a gripping tale of adventure and a poetic meditation, Antoine de Saint Exupéry's Wind, Sand and Stars is the lyrical autobiography of an aviation pioneer, from the author of The Little Prince. This Penguin Modern Classics edition is translated from the French with an introduction by William Rees.

In 1926 de Saint-Exupéry began flying for the pioneering airline Latécoère - later known as Aéropostale - opening up the first mail routes across the Sahara and the Andes. Wind, Sand and Stars is drawn from this experience. Interweaving encounters with nomadic Arabs and other adventures into a richly textured autobiographical narrative, it has its climax in the extraordinary story of Saint-Exupéry's crash in the Libyan Desert in 1936, and his miraculous survival. 'Self-discovery comes when a man measures himself against an obstacle,' writes Saint-Exupéry. This book explores the transcendent perceptions that arise when life is tested to its limits.

Writer and aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1900-44), was born in Lyon, France. 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.

If you enjoyed Wind, Sand and Stars, you might like Woody Guthrie's Bound for Glory, also available in Penguin Modern Classics.

'A Conrad of the air ... Like Conrad, Saint-Exupéry is a poet of action'

André Maurois


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Wind, Sand and Stars (Penguin Modern Classics) + Southern Mail / Night Flight (Penguin Modern Classics) + Flight to Arras (Penguin Modern Classics)
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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: 12.9 x 0.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 17,691 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.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
It was 1926. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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4.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
99 of 104 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
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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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Breathless 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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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Aviator, Poet & Philosopher 22 April 1998
By A Customer
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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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Superb 4 Mar 2009
Format:Paperback
I stumbled upon this book by chance whilst looking for desert related literature and such were the comments from previous reviewers I felt compelled to purchase a copy. I am so glad I followed that impulse as I found this little book an absolute gem.

On the face of it 'Wind, Sand and Stars' recounts some of Antoine de Saint-Exupery's adventures whilst serving as a pioneering airmail pilot crossing the Sahara and later the South Atlantic. If you venture beyond the rather slow start to the book your perseverance will be justly rewarded as it blossoms into a wonderfully intense almost poetic form incorporating not only the author's airborne adventures but also experiences from the Spanish Civil War and form his earlier life in France.

The description of his crash landing in the desert, and subsequent deliverance, details not just the terrible physical suffering he and his companion endured but also the powerful effect it had upon his spiritual being - a truly moving narrative.

This book is a wonderfullly thought provoking, perceptive and uplifting piece of literature and is highly recommended.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Wind, Sand and Stars
Nice, practical edition. Very well written, fluent story. Definitely would recommend it to adventure lovers. Ideal for reading while travelling.
Published 3 months ago by Željka
5.0 out of 5 stars Wind, Sand and Stars
A wonderfuilly evocative and moving work by one of the greatest French stylists of the 20th century, Antoine de St-Exupery, who died piloting his fighter aircraft in 1944. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Brian G
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic
This is a classic. It is an interesting book for both aeroplane-obsessive and the generally curious. It covers interesting places, early aviation and the dangers of same. Read more
Published 8 months ago by bob
5.0 out of 5 stars Musings on the wonder of early flying
Part dreamer, part poet, Saint-Exupery wrote this short account of his days flying during the 1920's and 30's. Read more
Published 13 months ago by D. Gardner
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful, inspirational and beautifully crafted. A joy to read.
This is one of the most beautiful books I've ever read.

You may perhaps be familiar with Antoine de Saint Exupéry's work through the book The Little Prince which... Read more
Published 21 months ago by Steven Unwin
5.0 out of 5 stars A little gem
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... Read more
Published on 15 Mar 2012 by Mick Read
5.0 out of 5 stars perfect
antonie should not have died so early - missed his writing masterpieces - hope to read every single one of his books - wished i live in his era
Published on 23 Dec 2011 by Siobhan
5.0 out of 5 stars An Englishman surviving in Spain
In the chapter on 'Comrades' of Wind, Sand and Stars in the classic book by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry I have quoted the paragraph which begins 'But little by little we... Read more
Published on 27 May 2011 by El Inglés
5.0 out of 5 stars The antidote for the "middle seat blues"...
Fear of flying nowadays mainly involves a strong distaste for the crowded planes, fear of drawing a far too overweight passenger as your next seat companion, the comedy of the... Read more
Published on 30 Jan 2011 by John P. Jones III
4.0 out of 5 stars Very evocative, but watch the translation...
I assume Saint-Exupery wrote this in French and that explains the trouble I had starting this book.

10 pages in I seriously considered giving up on this book, so... Read more
Published on 3 Dec 2007 by M. Saxby
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