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A Story Like the Wind
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A Story Like the Wind

4.49 of 5 stars 4.49  ·  rating details  ·  746 ratings  ·  92 reviews
Van der Post’s incomparable knowledge of Africa illuminates this epic novel, set near the Kalahari Desert, about a boy on the verge of manhood, his experiences with the wonder and mystery of a still-primitive land, and his secret friendship with the Bushman whose life he saves. The narrative of A Story like the Wind continues in A Far-Off Place.
Paperback, 384 pages
Published November 8th 1978 by Mariner Books (first published January 1st 1972)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,858)
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Judith Reichsman
Probably the most amazing book i have ever read. The Bushmen lived a life profoundly spiritual and closer to the earth and its creatures than any other. I feel like i have lived in southern Africa now.
Julia
Francois Joubert is a boy who has been born and raised in the remote interior of South Africa. His father established a farm in partnership with the local tribes of that area, and Francois has been raised to understand the cultures of the native Matabele as well as the traditional Bushmen. Early in the novel he rescues a lone Bushman who is traveling through the area and they form a close bond. Later he will also befriend the daughter of a European family who move into the area. These two relati ...more
Mike
This is magnificent story-telling, in a disappearing tradition, of a kind one seldom encounters, at least not in contemporary fiction, anyway. Through personal knowledge from many years lived in Africa, (“write what you know”) the author imparts a sweeping, spell-binding tale of a continent, a time, a place, and a way of life about which most of us in our culture simply and truly know very little. This is frequently described as a coming-of-age story, but in so many ways it’s much more than that ...more
Charlie Fan
I can't decide whether to rate this 3 or 4 stars. It is infuriating because there's so many things about this book that I do not like: the idealized characters, the lack of a coherent plot, the forced shoveling of theme down the reader's throat, the numerous trivial tangents. Yet at the same time, these faults 'worked' in the book's favor, lent it a naive charm of a land seen through the eyes of a young boy suddenly required to mature much too fast. Part philosophical treatise, part written docu ...more
Candie
This is now in my top 5 books of all time. How did this book get overlooked back in 1974? Poetic insights into nature and culture of South Africa in early 20th century. Good character development. Hated for the book to end. Guess what?! There's a sequel and I'm starting it now: A Far Off Place
SparksofEmber
The story initially centers on Francois Joubert, a boy coming of age, & his life near the Kalahari desert; his wonder at the world & culture around him & the unique relationship he & his family have with the local population. This world is fragile, though, which is seen through many omens and foreshadowing. Meanwhile, Francois continues to mature through a friendship with a young lady newly introduced to the African wilds & his secret friendship with the Bushman whose life he ...more
David
Feb 26, 2008 David rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: young adults, anyone.
Laurens van der Post was one of the people chosen as godfather to Britain's Prince William. Don't hold that against him though - he is also the author of this wonderful book and its sequel, "A Far Off Place", two of my favorite books when I was a teenager.

Set in the Kalahari, the book tells the story of a young boy, Francois, whose life changes for ever when he saves the life of a Bushman, Xhabbo. Van der Post explores the conflict between African and European cultures with sensitivity. I am no
...more
Anthony
This is my favourite novel. It's not only a great adventure - but its message of hope and optimism despite its narrative on the troubled human spirit, is what makes it a truly great book. Its message on the need for sensitivity and strength of character is one that is inspiring and has never been more relevant in the world.
Jim Puskas
I'm very much of two minds about this book. On the positive side, it's filled with magic, with beautiful depictions of the African landscape and its complex natural environment and insight into the rich, complex culture of southern Africa the way it was before Europeans destroyed it. The characters are wonderfully developed -- the few remaining Bushmen, the aristocratic Matabele, the Joubert family of Huguenot ancestry who have learned to understand and appreciate the qualities of their native p ...more
Pam
This is a pretty thick book, and you can't read it fast or it loses it's magic. The friend who recomended it to me told me repeatedly that you don't read it for the story, you read it for the images. I agree that the images are beautiful, but I thought it had a story too. It was a wander-and-explore-along-the-way story, but I felt I'd learned something valuable by the end. Be warned though, the story drops off a cliff at the end. You'll want to have the sequel "A Far-Off Place" close by.
Jennifer
A very well-written work that painted a picture of the beauty of Africa and its people in a way I've never visualized before. The education of the young man in this coming of age story shows how time spent outside and alone complements and enhances a classical education and vice versa.

This book was hard to put down. It was evocative of another time and place. It reflected an intimate acquaintance with the bush. It made me envy the author's skill in creating a magical, memorable story.
Marija
This is hands down the best book I've read in years. The descriptions are lush, the story is compelling, and the language is simply beautiful. Van Der Post is an underrated author, and I'm glad to have 'rediscovered' him after last reading his books 25+ years ago. Every time I picked this up, I was instantly transported back into the African bush, with all the plants, animals, sounds, and smells, the stars at night, the incredible sunsets, and of course, the unspeakable horror.
Judy
I am reading this again, having received it as a b'day gift -- so far, I am finding it to be better than the first time I read it.
A beautifully written story about a facet of life in Africa, featuring young Francois. You can read the description and you can read praises elsewhere. But until you read the book, you can't imagine the beauty encompassed in this book! I recommend it, without reservations!!!
Jaki Scarcello
My all time favorite book!
Mr van der Post's ability to bring me the sounds, smells and touch of the south African dusk is quite remarkable. This is a slow book, a book for people who like me could spend 15 minutes exploring one foot of a coral reef...the wonder is all in the minute detail.
Megan
Since I've never been to Africa I can't say how authentic this book is but I felt like I could taste, see and feel the wildness and remoteness. The little philosophies on nature and humanities position on it were as interesting to me as the bigger picture themes. The intermingling of African cultures and traditions with European was fascinating and teaches a lesson on the dangers of cultural superiority. In addition, we had the wonderful Francois who is a bright, charming boy seeped in natural p ...more
Jessica
I've been trying forever to get through this. It sucks me in and then it bores me... a lot of description but slow in some parts.
Ellen Fields
I absolutely LOVE this book. So much so that I recommended it to my bookclub and will be reading it again.
Debora Cenatori
One of my all time favorites! I stayed up all night reading it!
Sue
Francois Joubert and his dog Hintza have the opportunity to save the life of a Bushman, Xhabbo, who had become caught in the metal jaws of a lion trap. This occurs in the bush surrounding Hunter's Drift, the property where Francois lives with his parents and their Matabele staff. As a result of saving Xhabbo, a deep friendship between them is forged. The friendship must be kept secret, however, because of the lack of love between the Matabele and the Bushmen. It's the story of a young man on th ...more
Carly
Finally! I finished this book FINALLY after about two years...possibly even three years of reading. It was well worth it. It started off slow for me. So slow, in fact, that I just couldn't keep reading it. Now that I've finished it though, I see that it takes some time to get used to the style of writing and to the pace at which the story is told, but once you do, it's easy to see that it is exactly the pace at which it needs to be read. Don't expect to fly through this book. You'll miss the mos ...more
Harmony Kent
An old book, but a good one. Another great tale from this classic author. Both the old and the young would enjoy this book. This is a writer who has dived deeply into life and emerged victorious. There is a sequel to this book, which is also brilliant. The two books really manage to complement one another. If you want to grow and learn new things, then this author is for you. As well as this story, which is aimed for a younger reader, Mr Van Der Post writes many other fictional and factual books ...more
dead letter office
Another magic book that lives in the halfway world between the real and the imaginary. In fact there is no out-and-out magic in it, but the effect of a childhood in Africa on van der Post (and by extension Francois) colors everything in this book with the unworldly blue and gold of a vanished Africa before its innocence was wholly lost. I finished this book after midnight on Christmas eve of 1995 and tiptoed out to pick up the next one (staying at my parents' house is a little like living in a l ...more
Kathryn
This is NOT a fast read. This is a book to read over a month or two (or longer). It can drift into boring and tedious very quickly but that may be because the author holds nothing back. You're told everything! ... Francois (the main character) and what he's feeling at every moment, the ins and outs of living in the African bush and even the benefits of a well trained Rhodesian Ridgeback. That being said, I cherished A Story Like the Wind while reading it's sequel, A Far Off Place. What may have ...more
Philip
Perhaps I especially like coming-of-age stories, but I found this book about a young man coming of age in southern Africa to be beautifully written and touched my heart in a magical sort of way. Also a great deal of insight into Africa and the peoples there, both white and black. I was surprised that I had never heard of van der Post before and surprised that he had not won the Nobel Prize for Literature or similar prizes for this and his many other works. Some parts are just a tiny bit clunky h ...more
Evan O.
Very good. I was expecting a very dry, less-than-interesting story, but this was quite a fascinating and engaging read.
Allison
This book is absolutely BRILLIANTLY written. I love the descriptions, the pictures it evoked in my mind, but the last 10 pages RUINED the ENTIRE book. I won't give it away, but I was so angry when I had finished. As my mother would say, it was a complete and utter emotional manipulation. The way it was presented was callous and abrupt. It strikes me as the kind of thing the authors do when they are feeling insecure and worried their book won't sell and so they add something like this in in order ...more
Robert
Oct 05, 2008 Robert rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People who like adventure and are interested in Africa
This is a great, eye-opening view of Africa. I loved the information about Bushmen and about the ethnic history of Africa and found the story itself very interesting and exciting. This book lead me to other van der Post books, which were all very fascinating. I have found it worthwhile to look at the titles of Disney movies and read the book the corporation raped and corrupted to make a movie - Disney generally chooses good books and changes them beyond the point of recognition. An excellent, ey ...more
Kevin
Reading this book provided me with a glimpse into the sublime world of the Kalahari Desert and one persperctive on the most resourceful people on the planet, the bushmen. Some other reviwers found the story to be slow, but I enjoy detailed descripton. The storytelling brings you into another world and helps you get to know it before taking you on a wild adventure. It's like reading Tom Sawyer to get a sense of place before adventuring with Huckleberry Finn. Perhaps A Story Like the Wind is not a ...more
Ellen
What a wonderful recommendation; thanks Beth. Honestly, I blame the four-star rating on my lack of attention and not the book. I found all the characters, except of course the evil ones, to be very likeable, the kind you want to cheer on to success. The ending was very exciting, and while I had a feeling something like that was coming, I wasn't sure until it happened. I thought all the perspectives of the differing peoples were explained and represented which was nice when being introduced to ne ...more
Miles Burke
Aug 09, 2014 Miles Burke rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Miles by: The bookshelf in my parents' house...
What did I think? What didn't I think? Or what didn't I feel while reading this book? I think every emotional crevice in my being was invaded and thrust open by the power of this novel, and the multitude of messages and images it contains. Couldn't recommend it more. If you didn't love Africa before, you will after this.
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Sir Laurens Jan van der Post (aka Laurens van der Post) was a 20th century Afrikaner author of many books, farmer, war hero, political adviser to British heads of government, close friend of Prince Charles, godfather of Prince William, educator, journalist, humanitarian, philosopher, explorer, and conservationist.
More about Laurens van der Post...
A Far Off Place The Lost World of the Kalahari The Seed and the Sower Venture to the Interior The Heart of the Hunter: Customs and Myths of the African Bushman

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