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A Story Like the Wind
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A Story Like the Wind

4.41  ·  Rating Details ·  1,057 Ratings  ·  126 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 1972)
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Emma Susanne Yes, i read it as a preteen and loved it. Depends on their maturity... but it whisked me away into an amazing world and filled my imagination for…moreYes, i read it as a preteen and loved it. Depends on their maturity... but it whisked me away into an amazing world and filled my imagination for decades(less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Judith Reichsman
Aug 20, 2012 Judith Reichsman rated it it was amazing
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.
Charlie Fan
Jul 25, 2009 Charlie Fan rated it really liked it
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
Mar 16, 2009 Candie rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 12, 2010 Mike rated it it was amazing
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
Jacki (Julia Flyte)
Jan 27, 2012 Jacki (Julia Flyte) rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
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
Oct 03, 2012 SparksofEmber rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 08, 2017 Geri rated it liked it
I am of two minds when critiquing this book. First of all, I quite enjoyed reading about Africa and I could picture everything easily. The writing really is beautiful and the author gives us an abundance of background information about the characters, the culture, and landscape. However, there is SO MUCH DETAIL and not much in the way of a plot. I understand that the story picks up in the sequel and A Story Like the Wind acts as an introduction to the characters and conflict. The only reason I g ...more
Dec 28, 2010 Pam rated it really liked it
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.
Memorable Quotes
‘The story,’ the Bushman prisoner said, ‘is like the wind. It comes from a far-off place and we feel it.’

"...the magic which life in primitive Africa seems to me to have possessed before we arrived from Europe to spoil it."

“Remember, a man could not value the cattle he owns so much if it were not for the cattle he could never possess.”

"Do we all not secretly long for more love than reason, more pardon than justice, more impulse than calculation, more heart than head and altogethe
Jul 03, 2007 David rated it really liked it
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
May 10, 2014 Alexa rated it really liked it
What a beautiful, but tragic story about a teenage boy (Francois), his dog (Hintza), his wonderful African community, a bushman (Xhabbo), and a girl (he calls Nonnie). This is not a quick read. It is very descriptive and shows the beauty and dangers of African life in a small, primitive region near the Kalahari Desert, the differences between African and European philosophies, friendships and hardships, and political violence. The story has an abrupt ending, and I must rush to find its sequel, A ...more
Oct 27, 2010 Judy rated it it was amazing
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!!!
Jul 07, 2011 Marija rated it it was amazing
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.
Jan 09, 2012 Jennifer rated it it was amazing
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.
Sep 25, 2014 Anthony rated it it was amazing
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.
Miles Burke
Jul 11, 2014 Miles Burke rated it it was amazing
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.
Jaki Scarcello
May 03, 2013 Jaki Scarcello rated it it was amazing
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.
Debora Cenatori
Oct 30, 2011 Debora Cenatori rated it it was amazing
One of my all time favorites! I stayed up all night reading it!
Ellen Fields
Mar 31, 2010 Ellen Fields rated it it was amazing
I absolutely LOVE this book. So much so that I recommended it to my bookclub and will be reading it again.
Oct 12, 2007 Jessica rated it liked it
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.
Garry Duncan
May 15, 2017 Garry Duncan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-top-50
I don't think the Title does this book justice. Perhaps it is wording borrowed from the indigenous people, however this aside, it is a wonderful story of a boy growing up on a farm settled on the fringe of African wilderness. The landscape, the birds, animals and indigenous people are all central to the story and described with a richness and sensitivity that is almost achingly beautiful. Very thought provoking and at times I found it difficult to read further in case the magic would be lost. It ...more
May 10, 2017 Adelle rated it really liked it
I read this book & it's sequel as a teen & loved them. As an adult, even more! It's another story of survival, right choices, & perseverance.
Jul 17, 2016 Nancy rated it really liked it
First and foremost this is an elegy for continent, a people, and a way of life. This is also a story of the awful, lingering effects of colonialism of a continent by those who saw only a land to be conquered, ruled and settled. The author seems almost prescient of the horrible atrocities, the droughts, and the diseases that have occurred in Africa since this book was written in 1972.

Francois, the main character, is born in Africa (near Victoria Falls, which is now in Zimbabwe and Zambia), of p
Jan 03, 2008 Carly rated it liked it
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
Jun 07, 2015 Larry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First, just to be clear, this is not a book. It is half of a book, the other half being the sequel. For any other fictional work, this would be the first few chapters setting the stage for the meat of the tale. The author has the main character start out with an extraordinary dog. Then he has the main character meet a key character...and then pushes that character into the background with only periodic references. Next a new key character is introduced with clear indications that something very ...more
Jim Puskas
Jun 01, 2014 Jim Puskas rated it liked it
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
Jan 22, 2012 Sue rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, africa, botswana
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
Katie Clark
Feb 14, 2017 Katie Clark rated it liked it
"A Far-Off Place" was soo much better, but I'm still glad I read this
"first" book to get the back story.
Jan 31, 2016 Rrshively rated it it was amazing
Rich with the knowledge and experiences of the author who was raised in Africa, this book tells the compelling story of Francois growing up in the hinterland. His knowledge comes not only from his parents but from Africans such as Koba, 'Bamuthi, and Xhabbo. The ranger, Mopani, has also taught him the ways of the bush. He is both innocent and wise beyond his years. The myth and magic of the African legends guide him. When his father and mother leave their farm so that his father can get medical ...more
Dec 06, 2015 Rea rated it it was amazing
I must have read this book at least four times, and still I enjoyed reading it again. This time I thought I'd write a review. First thing to mention is the beauty of the language Van der Post uses. Although for me, as someone who only learned English at school it is sometimes a bit hard to read and understand all, I appreciate the use of words to paint a picture, the love for detail, the art of writing in this book. It may be a bit of Africa seeping in. The way the country and the native peoples ...more
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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...

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“No imagination has yet been great enough to invent improvements to the truth. Truth, however terrible, carried within itself its own strange comfort for the misery it is so often compelled to inflict on behalf of life. Sooner or later it is not pretence but the truth which gives back with both hands what it has taken away with one. Indeed, unaided and alone it will pick up the fragments of the reality it has shattered and piece them together again in the shape of more immediate meaning than the one in which they had been previously contained.” 1 likes
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