The classic memoir of Africa, aviation, and adventure—the inspiration for Paula McLain’s Circling the Sun and “a bloody wonderful book” (Ernest Hemingway).
Beryl Markham’s life story is a true epic. Not only did she set records and break barriers as a pilot, she shattered societal expectations, threw herself into torrid love affairs, survived desperate crash landings—and chronicled everything. A contemporary of Karen Blixen (better known as Isak Dinesen, the author of Out of Africa), Markham left an enduring memoir that soars with astounding candor and shimmering insights.
A rebel from a young age, the British-born Markham was raised in Kenya’s unforgiving farmlands. She trained as a bush pilot at a time when most Africans had never seen a plane. In 1936, she accepted the ultimate challenge: to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean from east to west, a feat that fellow female aviator Amelia Earhart had completed in reverse just a few years before. Markham’s successes and her failures—and her deep, lifelong love of the “soul of Africa”—are all told here with wrenching honesty and agile wit.
Hailed as “one of the greatest adventure books of all time” by Newsweek and “the sort of book that makes you think human beings can do anything” by the New York Times, West with the Night remains a powerful testament to one of the iconic lives of the twentieth century.
Hemingway himself states that Markham's writing makes him want to quit writing out of inadequacy. It's a memoir and at times there are holes, and more needed to have been written. But she captures growing up in east Africa, training race horses there, spear hunting with the bush men and eventually becoming a bush pilot. Not only is the material gripping but her writing is simply stunning. If you liked Out of Africa, this is a must read.
Great pilot, great writing
Being a pilot myself, I knew I would love reading about the author’s adventures. But I never expected the book to be such a delightful read!
This autobiography of a free spirited woman kept me wanting to know more. Beryl had a truly unique and most interesting life from childhood to womanhood.