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

Just finished the classic Wind, Sand and Stars by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. It’s one of those classics like Heart of Darkness that must be read. (pic via Wiki)

While it’s a personal account of some of his travels and exploits, it reads like a novel, even poetry in places. de Saint-Exupéry was a pilot for the French mail service, Aéropostale, in the 1930s.

Wind, Sand & Stars. is #3 on the National Geographic list of best adventure books. And Outside called it one of (actually #1) the 25 Essential Books for the Well-Read Explorer.

Definitely pop this title into your queue even if it takes a while to get to it. Here’s a sample.

“It results from this that perfection of invention touches hands with absence of invention, as if that line which the human eye will follow with effortless delight were a line that had not been invented but simply discovered, had in the beginning been hidden by nature and in the end been found by the engineer. There is an ancient myth about the image asleep in the block of marble until it is carefully disengaged by the sculptor. The sculptor himself must feel that he is not so much inventing or shaping the curve of breast or shoulder as delivering the image from its prison.

In this spirit do engineers, physicists concerned with thermodynamics, and the swarm of preoccupied draughtsmen tackle their work. In appearance, but only in appearance, they seem to be polishing surfaces and refining away angles, easing this joint or stabilizing that wing, rendering these parts invisible, so that in the end there is no longer a wing hooked to a framework but a form flawless in its perfection, completely disengaged from its matrix, a sort of spontaneous whole, its parts mysteriously fused together and resembling in their unity a poem.”

  • Michael E. Marotta

    With several volumes to his credit, he is truly an author you can read much of.  He and his “Little Prince” graced the old pre-euro 50-Franc notes.  His prose was poetic and his insights ethereal.  Coming to America, he became a friend of the Lindberghs.  Returning to France, he was shot down on patrol over the Mediterranean.  While Victor Hugo is often touted, Exupery made me wish I could read the original.