(New York: Éditions de la Maison Française, 1942). 223 x 183 mm. (8 3/4 x 7 1/8"). 253,  (blank) pp. FIRST EDITION (preceeding the French edition). No. 431 OF 450 COPIES on Corsican paper (from a total edition of 526).
Original tan printed paper wrappers, ENTIRELY UNOPENED. With a small leaf marked "431" in red loosely inserted. Wrapper with two negligible edge tears, but an exceptionally fine copy of a very fragile book, with everything clean and fresh inside and out.
This is an unusually attractive, obviously unread copy of the true first edition (preceding the Paris printing by nine months) of Saint-Exupéry's account of his exploits when flying reconnaissance for the Armée de l'Air during the 1940 battle for France. Of his time as a pilot, Saint-Exupéry says that it was hazardous work: of the 23 crews in his unit, 17 were sacrificed in the early days of the battle, "like glasses of water thrown onto a forest fire." Such turns of phrase moved Robert McFarlane, in an essay for "The Guardian," to proclaim Saint-Exupéry's writings "the finest in aerology--among the finest in all exploration." According to McFarlane, "No one has written about air like Saint-Exupéry. Air was a substance whose beauty so astonished him that he often lapsed into dream-like states while at the controls: the aeroplanes he was flying did not have autopilot. 'I live,' he once wrote, 'in the realm of flight.'" The French army was overcome by Nazi forces in 1940, and Saint-Exupéry (1900-44) lived in exile in the States for two years--during which he penned his classic, "The Little Prince"--before rejoining Free French forces. His plane disappeared on a mission over the Mediterranean in 1944. (ST14530)