As breath-stopping as the event itself. (140 drawings and photographs)

A heady, rushing account of the outrageous high-wire act performed by Petit, on August 7, 1974, between the World Trade Center towers.

Even Petit understood it to be a “mad project,” which was why, when he took to the cable he and his confederates had strung between the Twin Towers, he held much of the city in thrall for an hour as he coursed back and forth 110 stories high. In short chapters, written as though the words were on fire, Petit recounts all the planning—he had already done major illegal aerial walks between the towers of Notre Dame Cathedral and on the world’s longest steel arch bridge, in Australia—and all the incredible logistical problems: the danger of the towers swaying in the wind and snapping the cable, the subterfuges necessary to gain access to the still uncompleted buildings for planning strategy. There are snafus and betrayals, wonderful strokes of luck, and some inside help. Most of all, there is Petit: arrogant, haughty, rebellious, and romantic, the grandiose funambulist (“Impossible, yes, so let’s get to work”), right up until the moment of “tuning my wire for the celestial symphony to follow.” 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. Like George Mallory, he is asked, Why? “When I see three oranges I juggle; when I see two towers, I walk!” Johnny Carson calls, and Petit turns him down; Sweet ’n’ Low wants his endorsement, and he stares in disbelief. He keeps the act sacrosanct, a wild deed and a work of art, and he scredits those who helped make it happen.

As breath-stopping as the event itself. (140 drawings and photographs)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-86547-651-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: North Point/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2002


The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006



Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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