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104 of 109 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Crash landing in the Sahara desert...profound insight...
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,...
Published on 18 April 2001

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Not what I expected; too much philosophising and not enough detail in the aviation aspects for me I'm afraid.
Published 1 month ago by JeffR


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104 of 109 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Crash landing in the Sahara desert...profound insight..., 18 April 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Wind, Sand and Stars (Penguin Modern Classics) (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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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Breathless, 3 Feb. 2009
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This review is from: Wind, Sand and Stars (Penguin Modern Classics) (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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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Aviator, Poet & Philosopher, 22 April 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Wind, Sand, and Stars (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.
One doesn't risk one's life for a plane any more than a farmer ploughs
for the sake of the plough. But the aeroplane is a means of getting
away from towns and their book-keeping and coming to grips with
reality."

Wind, Sand and Stars is not an easy read. But for those with patience and an interest (in a phrase from The Little Prince) in "listening with the heart", here is an insight to one man's struggle to understand and articulate the sacredness and greatness of human life.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Superb, 4 Mar. 2009
By 
Mr. H. F. Murden (New Barnet, Herts, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Wind, Sand and Stars (Penguin Modern Classics) (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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A little gem, 15 Mar. 2012
This review is from: Wind, Sand and Stars (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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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very evocative, but watch the translation..., 3 Dec. 2007
By 
Amazon Customer (Fleet, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Wind, Sand and Stars (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
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 convoluted, flowery and stodgy was the prose, something I have done with less than 5 books ever.

That I didn't and give the book 4 stars is testament to chapter two and beyond, but be aware that you might have to persevere to get to the greatness of this book.

This MIGHT be down to translation into English and some versions may be easier to read than others.

The episode of the crash in the desert is a page turning thriller, though, and his experiences in Spain during the civil war are a diverting counterpoint to the rest of the book.

A great read, if you can get into it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Musings on the wonder of early flying, 14 Mar. 2013
By 
D. Gardner (Kent UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Wind, Sand and Stars (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
Part dreamer, part poet, Saint-Exupery wrote this short account of his days flying during the 1920's and 30's. He is not dealing with the nuts and bolts of flying, but is concerned with the effect his adventures have on him and the people he meets.
It is a beautiful and meandering book which makes you want to give up the day-job, take off, and explore more of the world.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful, inspirational and beautifully crafted. A joy to read., 13 July 2012
By 
Steven Unwin "Steve Unwin" (Preston, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Wind, Sand and Stars (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
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 has become a classic for children and adults alike. This book reveals some of the inspiration Saint Exupéry drew upon.

Antoine de Saint Exupéry was a pioneering French pilot opening up the routes between France and Africa at a time when such journeys taxed the capabilities of aircraft and pilots to their limits. In this book he blends a collection of wonderful tales of the period with insights from his life, writing with the hand of a poet from the heart of a philosopher.

The book, written some seventy years ago, is clearly placed in its time whilst also being timeless, blending images of times past with lessons and insights that are immensely relevant to today. It spans his early adventures pioneering the mail service to Africa and onto the opening up of South America, through to his involvement in the Spanish Civil War, each with their life threatening dangers.
The experiences are wonderfully described but it is his reaction to them, the response of his heart and soul that give the book the power to move the reader's soul.

In a book that has much description of life and survival in the desert, my favourite chapter is titled `Oasis'. Saint Exupéry leads the reader not into the oasis amidst the sand, but the oases that fill all of our lives, beautifully describing the experience of being taken into a family home in Paraguay.
I often promise to return to re-read books, but this book and this chapter in particular has been read several times over.

One of my favourite quotations of Saint Exupéry is.
"Each man carries within him the soul of a poet who died young"

Sadly Antoine de Saint Exupéry was killed whilst flying in 1944 at the age of 44.
I commend this book to you so you may see the poet he was and find the poet you are.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wind, Sand and Stars, 19 Aug. 2013
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This review is from: Wind, Sand and Stars (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
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. The story of his survival in the Libyan desert after a crash manages to be both poetically beautiful and harrowing at the same time.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Classic, 2 Aug. 2013
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This review is from: Wind, Sand and Stars (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
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. Underneath the personal experiences he had, lies the greater historical dramas. Well worth it.
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Wind, Sand and Stars (Penguin Modern Classics)
Wind, Sand and Stars (Penguin Modern Classics) by Antoine Saint-Exupery (Paperback - 25 May 2000)
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