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Book Review: Wind, Sand, and Stars by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Updated: Dec 20, 2021

Wind, Sand, and Stars (Terre Des Hommes originally in French) by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Author of the international bestselling book The Little Prince, Saint-Exupery wrote Wind, Sand, and Stars in 1939 five years before his disappearance in flight over the Mediterranean. A bracelet with his name inscribed on it and part of the wreckage of his plane was found off the coast of Marseille nearly fifty-five years later. A beloved writer and hero in France, Saint-Exupery was a talented storyteller, aviator, and writer. Wind, Sand, and Stars is summarized as,

"Interweaving stories of encounters with nomadic Arabs and other adventures into a rich autobiographical narrative, it has its climax in the extraordinary story of Saint-Exupery's crash in the Libyan Desert in 1936, and his miraculous survival."

There were several passages where I really enjoyed, particularly his descriptions of the beautiful desolation of deserts and their virginal majesty. On the Saharan coast between Cape Juby and Cisneros, Saint-Exupery describes vertical cliffs and cone shaped mountains reaching kilometers high that stretch in great length into the area where he needed to a land a Moorish/Moroccan messenger as part of a military mission. Circling the cliffs for an hour, Saint-Exupery sights a narrow plateau that he maneuvered his small plane onto and then describes landing on this untouched space,

"I was the first to let that dust made of shells stream from one hand to another like a precious gold. The first to disturb that silence. On that kind of polar ice-floe, where through all eternity not a single blade of grass had formed, I was the first evidence of life, like a seed brought by the winds.

A star was already shining and I gazed at it. That white surface, I thought had stood open only to the stars for hundreds of thousands of years. An immaculate sheet stretched beneath the pure sky. And my heart contracted, as on the threshold of a great discovery, when I saw on that sheet twenty yards ahead of me, a black pebble."

I will not spoil the rest of the beautiful paragraph for you here, I encourage you to read on about in your own copy of Saint-Exupery's discovery of celestial flint and meteorites fallen from "that celestial apple tree".

It is easy to see how much of The Little Prince was based on his explorations and adventures in the Libyan desert, just as Saint-Exupery crashed in the desert and thereafter had a great tale to tell humankind, so did The Little Prince after his crash on our Earth.

”We are living in a wandering plant. From time to time, thanks to the aeroplane, it reveals to us it’s origin: a lake connected with the moon unveils hidden kinships. I have see other signs of this.”

This book is a small, transportive account of adventure, flight, and poetry of action; Wind, Sand, and Stars is worthy of a place on your shelves. I have given this book 4 stars. You can see it on my virtual shelf here and soon I will be sharing my newly built library with you on the blog here where you can see this book on my shelves at Sunbird House.

I'm not sure this particular translation really brought to life the incredible and real stories told in this narrative as some parts of the story can be a little cumbersome in language and not nearly as captivating as I'm sure they must be in their original French. But this book was really enjoyable for me personally because I am a lover of aviation and have always wanted to get my pilots license. Flying myself over the Negev desert for pleasure would be incredible dream come true. I have dabbled in aviation a few times thanks to friends and family gifting to me several years in a row the opportunity to pilot straight wing and helicopter flights.

It was an incredible experience and I hope I will have the opportunity to fly again in the future. In the meantime, I will enjoy the experience vicariously through Wind, Sand, and Stars.

"For once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return."

- Leonardo Da Vinci

Until the next review, be well.


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