land-of-menLAND OF MEN (Wind Sand and Stars)

By Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Read by Nicholas Boulton
5 hours 18 minutes


Antoine de Saint-Exupéry is known universally for the gentle charm of Le Petit Prince, but it is this book, Land of Men – known originally in English as Wind, Sand and Stars – which is his masterpiece. First published in 1939, it documents Saint-Exupéry’s life as a pilot in the pioneering days of long-distance flying and in particular his experiences as a pilot transporting mail across countries, across continents. These courageous pilots took their life in their hands each time they set out to deliver the mail. It was extremely hazardous, for the aeroplanes were unreliable, precise meteorology was in its infancy, radio communication and maps were relatively primitive and new, long routes were being pioneered over dangerous terrain of all kinds – across the Sahara, over the Andes, even just across the Mediterranean. But in Land of Men, Saint-Exupéry doesn’t just relate tales of derring-do in the clouds, the storms, or what it is like to be lost over thousands of featureless miles above sea or sand. He does speak of the dangers, the risks from bandits and ‘dissidents’ when landing in a tiny desert outpost, the struggles to keep these basic machines in the air when faced with buffeting winds or flying through dense cloud for hours, without one reassuring sight of a landmark. He recounts his crash in the Sahara, his days of walking without water and his remarkable survival. But all this action is underpinned by reflection, by poetic expression, by camaraderie and by an inner quiet born of those hours spent high in the sky – with the wind, the sand and the stars. It poignant also, because Saint-Exupéry himself disappeared one day five years after publication, flying over the Mediterranean. All this, and a rich humanity, makes this a great, great book. It has been an international favourite since it first appeared – and is now presented in Bill Homewood’s vibrant new translation of Terre des Hommes, more faithful to, and representative of, Saint-Exupéry’s original. This recording, read with intimacy and care by Nicholas Boulton, will be one you will never forget.



Available 10 February on audible: £12.33 or subscription.



The warm romance of Nicholas Boulton’s baritone heightens the lyricism of this classic memoir about airplane flight by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, author of THE LITTLE PRINCE. LAND OF MEN is the original title translated from French (TERRE DES HOMMES); the more familiar WIND, SAND AND STARS is the English title. Before he disappeared while flying a reconnaissance mission over the Mediterranean in 1944, Saint-Exupéry wrote some of the literary world’s most famously poetic descriptions of the physical and metaphysical wonders of flying. This audiobook remembers the time he spent on the mail run over the Sahara, often flying at night with few landmarks but the stars. It’s a paean to adventure, technology, and the natural world, which Boulton reads with clarity and passion. His realistic French accent and skill with characterization enliven the conversational sections, and his engaged pacing beautifully intensifies the book’s soaring narrative. Continue reading…

In the 1930s and 40s Saint-Exupery was in the French Airforce flying flimsy unreliable little planes across frequently treacherous airmail routes over the oceans and Africa and South America. Land of Men (a direct translation of the original title Terre des hommes) is his account of his 1930s experiences, but not so much the narrative of them, as an extended meditation on ‘the heart of mystery’ which he finds whilst alone in the cockpit at the ‘whim of the winds’, the ‘something vast’ he sees in the corridors of moonlight beyond this flawed, earthly life. Continue reading…

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