THE LAST OF THE WALLENDAS by Delilah Wallenda

THE LAST OF THE WALLENDAS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 High-sighing story of the great high-wire artists, told by the granddaughter of legendary trapeze-artist Karl Wallenda and by journalist DeVincentis-Hayes (People, Redbook, etc.). Now that the Wallendas have dwindled down to a precious few, the remaining legally named Wallendas have wrangled with the author about her use of the Wallenda name in her high-wire act--for her mother was Wallenda's child by a woman he married after a Mexican divorce from his first wife, a divorce that the US failed to recognize. ``I walk the wire because it's in my blood,'' she says, and, with several thrilling moments, her story shows just how and why high-wire walking gets into your blood if you're a Wallenda. Leader of the pack was grandfather Karl, who insisted on topping himself with ever more dangerous acts. He seems to have been his own worst enemy, harboring one great dream: to skywalk Niagara Falls. But New York State doesn't allow high-wire acts without a net, so Karl invented the seven-man pyramid, in which six men form a pyramid with a woman sitting in a chair on top--an act so dangerous that no one else on earth dared do it. The Wallendas handled it safely for 16 years until, one day in Detroit, the strain overcame one member, leaving two dead and one paralyzed. But Karl survived and soon was back building the pyramid: Courage is all to the Wallendas. Fate caught up with him in Puerto Rico, however, when a poorly guyed wire and heavy winds toppled him from a skywalk between two tall buildings. The young author, meanwhile, had been taught by Karl and became the first woman skywalker, successfully walking the very wire that killed her grandfather. Circus lore--with suicides, bigamy, insanity and so on--fills in the family history. A strong, if downbeat, read. (Photographs) (First printing of 20,000)

Pub Date: April 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-88282-116-4
Page count: 267pp
Publisher: New Horizon
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1993




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