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To Reach the Clouds
Synopses & Reviews
An artist of the air re-creates his six-year plot to pull off an act of incomparable beauty and imagination
One late-summer day, a feat of unimaginable audacity was perpetrated on the twin towers of the World Trade Center. The year was 1974. A hundred thousand people gathered on the ground to watch in awe as twenty-four-year-old high wire artist Philippe Petit made eight crossings between the all-but-completed towers, a quarter mile above the earth, over the course of nearly an hour.
Petit's achievement made headlines around the world. Yet few who saw or heard about it realized that it was the fulfillment of a dream he had nurtured for six years, rekindling it each time it was in danger of expiring. His accomplices were a motley crew of foreigners and Americans, who under Petit's direction had conpired, connived, labored, argued, rehearsed, and improvised to make possible an act of unsurpassed aerial artistry.
In this visually and verbally stunning book, Petit tells for the first time the dramatic story of this history-making walk, from conception and clandestine planning to the performance and its aftermath. The account draws on Petit's journals, which capture everything from his budgets to his strategies for rigging a high wire in the dead of night between two of the most secure towers in the world. It is animated by photographs taken by two of Petit's collaborators, and by his own wonderfully evocative sketches and unquenchable humor.
"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...a most fitting remembrance of the World Trade Center as a piece of New York social architecture....While a plethora of World Trade Center books are due this fall...it is doubtful that any will come close to the intimacy and immediacy of this one." Publishers Weekly
"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...after all, he spent an hour suspended between heaven and earth....Essential." Barry X. Miller, Library Journal
"For all his bluster and hyperbole — 'The gods of the towers. Breathing, swaying....Let me go. Let me pass. Let me arrive. Let me reach you' — it is impossible not to like Petit, epitome of the adventurer who makes his days count, cheating the Reaper, thumbing his nose at authority, inspiring and giving delight....As breath-stopping as the event itself." Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
Philippe Petit is a world-renowned high wire artist who has performed all over the world. He lives in the Catskills and New York City, where he is artist-in-residence at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.
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