cover image Saint-Exupery: A Biography

Saint-Exupery: A Biography

Stacy Schiff / Author Alfred A. Knopf $30 (525p) ISBN 978-0-67

Born in 1900 into one of France's oldest families, impoverished aristocrat Antoine de Saint-Exupery became a pioneer aviator, braving the Pyrenees, Patagonia and the Sahara, as well as serving as a mail pilot in the 1920s and '30s, and then turning his adventures into lyrical novels. The Little Prince, his children's fable for all ages, secured his fame. This captivating biography deftly separates the man from the myth, revealing an awkward, petulant idealist, an elitist who advocated oligarchy, a pilot known for his mishaps and absentmindedness, and an unhappily married adventurer whose abusive wife eventually reached an uneasy accommodation with his mistress. Fleeing German-occupied France for New York City in 1940, Saint-Exupery felt he was shirking his duty as a Frenchman; he attained the noble death he sought in 1944, missing in action on a reconnaissance flight over southern France. Schiff is a former senior editor at Simon & Schuster. Photos not seen by PW. (Nov.)