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Why Knot?: How to Tie More than Sixty Ingenious, Useful, Beautiful, Lifesaving, and Secure Knots! Hardcover – April 9, 2013

4.7 out of 5 stars 83 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“In reading Philippe’s book we are cogently reminded that without the ability to secure a rope, or tether a goat, or make fast the sheets of a galley, much of the civilization that we take for granted would disappear as easily as a slipknot in the hands of a Vegas conjuror.”
(Sting)

“Philippe Petit is an artist of knots: We get taken and sprung free at the same time. This is a dynamic book, eclectic, fun, and practical. From Nabokov to the World Trade Center to improvised handcuffs! Wonderful.”
(Colum McCann)

“Read this book and pop it in your pocket. . . . One day it may save your life!"
(Melissa Leo)

“This is not your normal book for Boy Scouts. This is for those with a sense of poetry—the poetry and the mystery of the Bowline in the Bight, the Highwayman’s Hitch, and the Monkey’s Fist—revealed to us by a man whose life depends on ropes and knots.”
(Werner Herzog)

“Petit’s distinct and deeply insightful philosophy through the guise of mere knots forever binds us to surprising new joys.”
(Elizabeth Streb)

“The book describes, among other things, the kind of knots that held fast when was high up without a net—the ‘locked constrictor’ he used at the trade center, the ‘farmer’s loop’ he fastened to the Sydney Harbour Bridge in Australia in 1973, the ‘jug sling’ he cast before he walked between Avery Fisher Hall and what was then the New York State Theater in Lincoln Center in 1987.”
(The New York Times)

“Petit’s illustrated guide to some of his favorites, like the slipped clove hitch he used to anchor the wire on which he walked across New York’s Grand Central Terminal…. [He] carried a length of rope in his pocket in order to perform tricks at a moment’s notice. The book comes equipped with a section of cord so readers can do the same.”
(WIRED)

“In explaining the purpose and creation of knots, Mr. Petit earns perfect marks. Thanks to those flawless drawings, I relearned the bowline in record time.”
(Wall Street Journal)

“Petit, who knows how to tie 200 knots and has a knot library of 200 volumes, is a poetic and passionate instructor.”
(Boston Globe)

“His newest book celebrates the unsung heroes of his work: knots. This beautifully packaged hardcover comes complete with a practice rope coiled in the title’s O.”
(Mental Floss)

“Thank you for this very smart book, everyone needs one!”
(Charlie Rose)

“Mr. Petit is the perfect teacher. His descriptions are clear, he deploys humor frequently and he makes his points with anecdotes that are colorful and memorable. Explaining the purpose and creation of knots and thanks to those flawless drawings Mr. Petit earns perfect marks.”
(Wall Street Journal)

About the Author

Philippe Petit has been artist-in-residence of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine for more than 30 years and has performed on the high wire more than 80 times around the world. He also street juggles, lectures, and practices magic. He is the author of several books, including To Reach the Clouds (Man on Wire). In 2011, he performed his one-man show Wireless!, and in 2012, he was selected as a TED speaker, and he recently finished Cheating the Impossible, the first TED multimedia book. He lives in New York.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 265 pages
  • Publisher: Harry N. Abrams; Nov edition (April 9, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1419706764
  • ISBN-13: 978-1419706769
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 7.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #222,929 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Length: 1:57 Mins
I have several books on knot tying but this is by far the best of the bunch.

Philippe Petit is exactly the kind of guy you'd want to teach you about tying knots. His life depends on choosing and tying the correct knot for the purpose at hand.

The book is such a great resource. It discusses the terminology of knots and knot tying. Each knot is discussed in a very clear way that not only describes the purpose of the knot but the historical context of the knot.

Illustrations are plentiful and well-done as are the instructions.

I also like the inclusion of many photos of Philippe "in action" during some of his famous tight-wire acts.

The only negative comment I'll have about the book is that the font size is too small. Other than that, it's a superb book on learning about knots.

A very entertaining and informative book. Highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
For the price of a movie ticket, how could you knot want to read the words and hear the voice of a man who has spent his life, both in theory and practice, in pursuit of perfection? In a world where so few are capable of doing for themselves anymore, this should be mandatory reading. A basic life skill that should be known by all, as told by a master. The book belongs in every library. It was written to be read and referred to. Keep it handy. You'll learn much more than you think.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a super book for knots, that make the subject easy to learn and master quickly. I have a pretty good background with knots, so while I didn't learn too many new ones, the book is a joy to read, and was my go-to book for a couple of nights on the couch. Would highly recommend to anyone wanting to learn knots, and practice the skill.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I feel like my life could be greatly improved if I knew the right knot for a given task. Ok, maybe not _greatly_ but it seems like something a man should know. With this book, I'm aiming to build that knowledge.
The book is well researched (based on some crazy real experience) and I think Petit has succeeded in his goal to create a useful guide rather than a compendium of every possible knot.
The writing is a little verbose and a bit opinionated, but it's easy to skim those sections and get to the good stuff.
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Format: Hardcover
Like a four year old, I am learning a new language, that of tying knots.
Introduced to me by Philippe Petit's humorous and beautifully written/illustrated book
entitled Why Knot?
I'm thrilled when my figure eight knot goes exactly as illustrated, though when tying the
same knot from memory, the knot is reversed.
" Keep Tying" he says in the book.
And so I move through these knotty challenges, to imagine standing on the dock's edge, sailing off on tall
ships with my new skill of knot tying.
Why Not?
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
an extraordinary book written by an extraordinary person. a beautifully charming story blended with a simple instructional about knots. as a sailor myself i found this book to be very helpful and recommend it to everyone out there!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Everyone uses knots...and most of the time, the wrong ones. Normally if you can tie 4 or 5 well, you can handle most situations, but occasionally it is important to tie it right. And they are all in his book, and illustrated so well even I can understand how to do it. Never mind wire walking or even mountain climbing; if you have a boat or horses, or just haul a lot of stuff, this book is for you.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Philippe Petite brings the same vivacious joy to this extraordinary book as he brings to everything else in his his. It is gorgeously illustrated and rife with wildly interesting details and stories. If you don't give a damn about knots and ropes, it will turn you into an enthusiast. Pick it up immediately and leap into the unbridled joy which spills out of every page
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