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Night Flight [Paperback]

Antoine de Saint-Exupery
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 12 2001 Harbrace Paperbound Library (Book 63)
In this gripping novel, Saint-Exupéry tells about the brave men who piloted night mail planes from Patagonia, Chile, and Paraguay to Argentina in the early days of commercial aviation. Preface by André Gide. Translated by Stuart Gilbert.

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About the Author

ANTOINE DE SAINT-EXUPÉRY, the "Winged Poet," was born in Lyon, France, in 1900. A pilot at twenty-six, he was a pioneer of commercial aviation and flew in the Spanish Civil War and World War II. His writings include The Little Prince, Wind, Sand and Stars, Night Flight, Southern Mail, and Airman's Odyssey. In 1944, while flying a reconnaissance mission for his French air squadron, he disappeared over the Mediterranean.

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
3.6 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars AVIATION CLASSIC March 7 2001
By A Customer
As a near to retiring professional pilot who has logged close to 17,000 flight hours worldwide, including Argentina (where this story is set), all I can say is: Those mail pioneers (for this story was based on fact when Saint Ex went to Argentina about 70 years ago to open up the mail routes) were indeed very brave men. The author portays another place and another time, but for all aviators (from private thru airline) there are always moments when you come face to face with your own fear - be it weather, mechanical failure, fire, or whatever - and hopefully survive. Saint Ex's protaganist and his radio operator are not as fortunate as those of us who walked away, but then we modern pilots do have a lot more going for us in the cockpit than the pioneers did. In France, Saint Ex has always been considered the poet storyteller - the best of the best. In the USA Ernie Gann and Richard Bach, in the UK John Templeton Smith. It seems to me that the finest works with an aviation theme can only come from those who have been there. St Ex, Gann, Bach, Templeton Smith were always first and foremost pilots - that their writing skills happened to be superlative would doubtless have been dismissed by these modest men. Four men in the near hundred year history of aviation with such writing genius is not many. Read them all - imagine if you like that these four flyers are together in a flight (two elements) painting contrails across a blue sky. For me the leader Saint Ex. I leave you to decide who is his wingman.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The nature of duty May 22 2000
Sitting in the co-pilot's seat of a King Aire over western New Mexico a few years ago, I was eager to see the 11,301 foot high Mt. Taylor where a TWA flight had crashed in the 1930's, killing everyone on board.
It's hard to understand how anyone can run into a lone mountain rising a mile above the otherwise flat Colorado Plateau. Surely one could go around, or over, or do anything but hit it. Yet, "flying blind" was a deadly hazard of early aviation.
This book is really about the decisions of men who send others to face danger. It doesn't have a happy ending. One pilot, his radio operator, and plane simply vanish. Others are on schedule, and the system operates without pause. It's a reflection on the nature of imposed duty, a contrast to today's voluntary acceptance of risk.
Saint Exupery wrote a few years after Charles Lindbergh made the first solo flight across the Atlantic. Aviation progress then rested very much on the courage of pilots, which is why Lindbergh was such a hero. He typified the American spirit, "the lone eagle" accepting great personal risk to be first. 'Night Flight' is the opposite side of the coin, it deals with the willingness of men to order others to endure great risk for a new venture.
Weather's bad? In Saint Exupery's words, "if you only punish men enough, the weather will improve." Pilot's afraid? For the supervisor, "a man was a mere lump of wax to be kneaded into shape." Everyone is trapped within an impersonal system that leaves the supervisor without one confidant, and pilots facing instant death in the pitch black tumbling winds of a storm.
In the 1930's, aviation was the cutting edge of high tech. Today, it's electronics.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Night Flight May 13 2000
By A Customer
Often called a poet in prose, Saint-Exupery is also credited with having described flight better than anyone before (or since). When I first read this beautiful book, I could physically feel the sensations of flying as he described them. His lyrical descriptions of an open cockpit bi-plane in contact with the elements showed me new perspectives not only of flight, but of the human condition I could never have imagined. His writing is both vivid and sensitive. The depth and beauty of his insights into humanity is balanced by the well paced action of the plot. One of the best crafted short novels I have ever read. Prabably the most beautifully written book I have read to date.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An early flight of St. Exupery Nov. 23 1998
By A Customer
St.Exupery's later books, particularly non-fiction, give a fuller account of his early flying experiences. But this is not a technical book on flying, or an aviation history, but uses flying in a more metaphorical vein. Written in spare language, it explores what drives man to challenge his limits, the role of responsibility and perseverance in the face of impending defeat and ultimately tragedy. It is a story of modern heroism, not the John Wayne type, but that of a persons quietly doggedly carrying out their duties even when knowing the ultimate costs to their friends and themselves.
There is more to this brief novel than first meets the eye.
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