The essays and anecdotes in this volume are true gems to be enjoyed slowly, recalled fondly and shared often.
Despite the relative infancy of the aviation industry at the time he composed them, Saint-Ex clearly understood that flying - especially the type of long and dangerous kind that he was engaged in - was both a metaphor and a brilliant illumination into the nature of the human condition.
Like flying into uncharted territory, our journey through life is fraught with perils, faced mostly alone and with few witnesses to our acts of courage or cowardice. However, instead of facing up to this fact, Saint-Ex points out how "modern" culture consists of ever more elaborate denials of this basic fact: we have been indoctrinated with the goal of spending our lives working solely to achieve the most comfortable, painless, risk-free existence possible. And we continue to do so, much to our detriment.
These essays are skillful and evocative arguments that! ! only when we face up to, and acknowledge our tenuous and perilous existence, can we truly appreciate what it means to be alive. Saint-Ex does a wonderful job in writing about what has become important to him: experiencing the majestic beauty and power of the earth and nature, what the existentialists would call "being authentic", and the friendship and cameraderie of the pilots and people he has met on his journeys.
"Men travel side by side for years - each locked up in his own silence... till danger comes. Then they stand shoulder to shoulder. Then they discover they belong to the same family....
Happiness! It is useless to seek it elsewhere than in this warmth of human relations...
Each man must look to himself to learn the meaning of life. It is not something discovered: it is something molded. These prison walls that the age of trade has built around us, we can break down. We can still run free, call to our comrades, and marvel to hear once more! ! , in response to our call, the chant of the human voice'"