I may have been somewhat unconvinced of the greatness of The Little Prince but Wind, sand and stars, also by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, more than made up for it.
The author was a pilot in the early days of air traffic and the memoir contains thrilling descriptions of these pioneering aviators and the dangers facing them. I would have loved this book for the flight scenes alone but it contains much more. Written as a collection of loosely connected essays it is partly a memoir of the early days of flying, partly a celebration of life and humanity. In the end there is also a chapter about a visit in Spain during the civil war. It should feel disjointed but somehow the language and the love of life ties it together.
In the memoir he carefully describes the pilots, their air-crafts and the lofty world they inhabit. I especially enjoyed his description of the world below, written at a time when few people had been in a plane I imagine it must have sounded a bit like the astronauts’ descriptions of the world from space does to us.
It was written during the 1930s and his descriptions of the people he met during his time in Sahara are sometimes uncomfortable. However, unlike many of his contemporaries he had the advantage of writing about people he had interacted with and to some degree clearly respected. The result may not be a fair description of the people of Sahara but it’s probably a true portrait of how they would have appeared to a Frenchman at the time. As such I found it very interesting. I also appreciated his obvious love for Sahara, where he lived a few years, and which I felt resembled my own love for the Arctic.
All in all I greatly enjoyed this memoir and found it both thought-provoking and beautiful. I may not agree with all of his views but I found it a very worth-while read and am glad that the Classics club challenge made me discover it.
The full list of classics I have read or plan to read in the Classics Club challenge can be found here. In addition I count it as my 20th century classic for the Back to the classics reading challenge. Two other reviews of this book can be found here and here.