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Man on Wire Paperback – November 17, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
On the morning of August 7, 1974 having already illegally rigged and walked steel cables between the towers of Notre Dame in Paris and Australia's Sydney Harbor Bridge French funambulist Petit illegally rigged 200 feet of 7/8" steel cable between the two World Trade Center towers and walked between them repeatedly, lying down at one point and making eight crossings in all. This incredible feat resulted from six years of obsessive planning and problem-solving, meticulously documented in this engrossing, truly exhilarating account of how he pulled it off. Petit has penned four previous books in French regaling his various exploits, and here establishes an elegantly energetic and quirkily poetic English as he tells of secretly (and benignly) casing the World Trade Center, assembling his team of helpers for the enormously complicated (and improvised) rigging job, getting the heavy cable and rigging tools to the roof, running the wire across in the dead of night (via an arrow shot between the towers!), and tightening the cable: "Even in the midst of the hardest rigging job or most demanding clandestine adventure, I never fail to pause and admire the moment when tension brings my cable to what I consider its most seductive shape. Then I pause and smile back." The way in which the walk itself stopped traffic and galvanized the city is captured in Petit's descriptions and the 140 b&w photos (including Petit's notebook sketches), a most fitting remembrance of the World Trade Center as a piece of New York social architecture. The spirit behind Petit's form of trespass undertaken with enormous care, to the point of wrapping the rigging in carpet so it would not damage the towers acts directly against the violation of the city's structures and the murder of its people.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
On August 7, 1974, French funambulist Petit, then 24, performed an astonishing high-wire act on a cable that he and his accomplices had surreptitiously rigged between the north and south towers of the World Trade Center. In short, predominantly one-page chapters, Petit details the entire adventure, from its inception in a Parisian dentist's office in 1968 through his hour-long aerial feat of eight trips across the cable, 1350 feet above the ground, while more than 100,000 New Yorkers watched. Wonderfully documented are the assemblage of his confederates, the innumerable covert trips to the towers, the exhaustive planning, and, especially, the seemingly endless frustrations, problems, fights, and difficulties throughout the six-year period that led up to the "artistic crime of the century." Part Houdini, part Evil Kneivel, Petit is certainly fascinating; if his prose sags a little under the weight of too many exclamatory and interrogative sentences and hyperbolic tropes, he is to be forgiven; after all, he spent an hour suspended between heaven and earth. The 140 drawings and photographs are by Petit and his comrades and tend to be a bit amateurish, but they do give readers an idea of just how audacious a feat it was. Essential. Barry X. Miller, Austin P.L., TX
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
From the moment you see him on video, you can tell there is something special about Philippe. I bought this book because I saw part of his life story in the documentary, Man on Wire, which was turned into the Robert Zemeckis film, The Walk (a must-see in 3D). The sheer force of his personality is probably what convinced his lover and friends to accomplish "the artistic crime of the century." An event of this degree isn't likely to happen again for a long time.
This book is about that "crime"—walking between New York City's Twin Towers on a tightrope. Since I already saw the documentary and movie, this book felt like a rehash of the same events. The only difference is you get it straight from Philippe's head with his own words. To be honest, this whole event was so mind-boggling in that he actually accomplished it, that you have to read what he was thinking when he thought to do it.
If you haven't seen the movie or documentary, give this book a read. Experiencing this event through the eyes of the larger than life Mr. Petit will be memorable. Recommended.
The book is exactly like the video, not edited out of context as most movie makers like to do! The only thing better than owning the book would be to have it autographed by Mr. Petit. The original title of the book was "To Reach The Clouds", but to me, "Man On Wire" is much more meaningful - after all, how else would one describe what Mr. Petit was "booked" as?
Buy this book, I doubt you will be sorry for doing so.
Anyhow, upload it, read it, enjoy it, and feel free to love it or share my (minor) frustration.