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Publisher's Summary

West with the Night is the story of a remarkable woman molded and shaped by many things: the African jungle, a certain dog, horses, airplanes, friendships with white men and black. There is no life, no story quite like it.
©1942, 1983 Beryl Markham. Recorded by arrangement with North Point Press, a division of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC; (P)2003 The Arthur and Luce Klein Audio Collection, The Yale Collection of Historical Sound Recordings, Yale University Music Library

Critic Reviews

"Julie Harris' reading of aviatrix Beryl Markham's biography and celebration of Africa is an essential audiobook. Enjoy the magic of the spoken word and Harris' lovely performance." (AudioFile)

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  • Overall

Top Notch Writing; Riveting Stories

Ernest Hemingway is on record praising the writing quality of Beryl Markham's book. It is easy to see why. Her writing style is spare, to the point, without gush, brooding or emotional baggage. She makes you feel you're there with her--whether hunting wild animals, watching a championship horse race or flying in search of a downed pilot, and her descriptions and comments are clever, original and memorable. "I managed to overcome my education" is one that comes to mind. "Wishful thinking often smothers reason" is another. Hers is an adventurous and unusual story: growing up as a small child on an African farm in the 1920's, making her living in the 1930's training race horses in Kenya and then flying planes for safari hunters, followed by her "West with the Night" story when she made the first solo trans-Atlantic flight from England to North America in 1936. One interesting side note: her stories tell us much more about Bror Blixen, the husband of Karen Blixen, than did "Out of Africa."

I note from other reviews there is some question whether this book was ghost-written by her husband who was a Hollywood screenwriter. Given her life devoted to hunting, horse training and flying, it does seem remarkable that she could then write a book of such high quality. We don't have to worry about this question, however. The stories are clearly based on her life and experience, which are extremely interesting. Regardless of who actually authored the text, the writing is top quality and well worth the read.

41 of 41 people found this review helpful

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West with the Night

I loved this book! I bought it on a whim and am so very glad I did. The stories she tells range from touching to exciting. She paints a beautiful picture of a time and place that has now vanished. And the narration is exquisite. I had to stop at one point to see if it was narrated by the author, the voice was so authentic. Definitely one of my top five audio books ever!

21 of 21 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Tom
  • Atlanta, GA, USA
  • 11-16-09

West With the Night

A remarkable story rich in characterization and place and read with mesmerizing enchantment by Julie Harris. I have listened to this over and over, and it still holds me in its thrall.

15 of 15 people found this review helpful

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Beautifully written memoir

Such a beautifully written book! I would have loved to know Beryl Markham. Although I have no doubt that she was a unique and extremely intelligent individual, I think the biggest reason she was so successful at so many things is because no one told her she couldn't or shouldn't be. She was an animal lover, humanitarian, horse trainer, and pilot in the wilds of Africa. Her prose is insightful, clever, thoughtful and beautiful! As memoirs go, this is one of the best.

The narration of Julie Harris is absolutely top notch.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Barbara
  • Houston, Texas, United States
  • 04-08-11

Remarkably written by a most remarkable woman

When I first started listening to this book I thought to myself "Could this book REALLY be such an outstanding piece of literature, or does the narrator, Julie Harris, just make it seem that way?"
I had known about Beryl Markham since right about the time of her death in 1986, and she is one of the people who most influenced my life.

But it was not until, while researching correlations and contrasts with Amelia Earhart (another big influence), that I came across an obscure quote by Ernest Hemmingway in which he stated "Did you read Beryl Markham's book, West With The Night? ...She has written so well, and marvellously well, that I was completely ashamed of myself as a writer. I felt that I was simply a carpenter with words, picking up whatever was furnished on the job and nailing them together and sometimes making an okay pig pen. But this girl, who is to my knowledge very unpleasant and we might even say a high-grade bitch, can write rings around all of us who consider ourselves as writers ... it really is a bloody wonderful book." * Imagine THAT!
I totally agree that it is a marvelous read!
* Beryl Markham-Wikipedia

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • Roberta
  • HALF MOON BAY, CA, United States
  • 08-28-11

You have to read this book

Again, YOU HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK. Don't hesitate, just get it. I have become so enamored of Beryl Markham since I started this book (I'm a little over halfway thru) that I also bought the biography written about her.

Ms. Markham was up for a Pulitzer Prize for this, but lost to Ernest Hemingway - who was quoted as saying that the prize should have gone to her because she wrote circles around him. The reason she didn't get it was because she was married to a screenwriter at the time, and there was speculation that he either authored it or co-wrote it.

I wish she had won it. The prose is absolutely stunning. This not the typical autobiography. She basically tells stories from her life...each fascinating story starts out casual and easy, then it grabs you by the seat of your pants and you'll find yourself on edge to find out what happens next.

Thanks to her, I feel that I've been to Africa and know a part of it that no one else does - she makes it so real. I wish I could have met her!

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Lydia
  • Austin, Texas
  • 04-08-11


I found the book fabulous - it has a wonderful description of the culture of native peoples as well as of pure adventure.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • carrie
  • North Texas, United States
  • 07-14-11

What an interesting lady!

Beryl can be a bit long-winded at times (its like listening patiently to a senior tell an intrigiung tale) and the narrator occasionally has a faint but audible nasal whistle, but other than those two minor things, I loved this story. Excellent writing, excellent narration. Highly recommended.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Deborah
  • Wylie, TX, United States
  • 07-04-11

Exciting story

The book is a wonderful story of culture and courage. I've rated many books here, but I must comment on a narrator for the first time. Julie Harris' reading brought the story to life..It brought me to tears and breathlessness during the horse race that I will not forget.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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A dream of a book!

Julie Harris's narration is delicious. It is not a theatrical performance, she is unabashedly reading a book to you. The story is incredible - not about Africa but about LIVING in Africa, about experiencing history instead of hearing about it.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful