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To Reach the Clouds: My High Wire Walk Between the Twin Towers

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  821 ratings  ·  153 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 cr
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published September 4th 2002 by North Point Press
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Average rating 4.12  · 
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Diane in Australia
Interesting book. In 1974 Philippe walked a high-wire strung between the towers of the World Trade Center. In this book he lets us in on all the planning, the preparations, the mistakes, the angst, and the thrill of making his dream come true. Nice photos, too.

4 Stars = Outstanding. It definitely held my interest.

Jul 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
One of the best books i have ever, ever, ever read. Found it a few years ago and have evangelicised on it ever since! Truly uplifting, beautiful, and poetic. No other book has ever had my heart pumping with excitement as much as this. Even though [from the cover alone] you know that "he does it" - the suspense when I turned the pages just before he steps on the wire was incredible! So glad the film has been such a success, Petit deserves high praise indeed!
Jul 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Even though I knew the outcome of Petit's attempted "coup" before I began reading this book, his account was unbelievably filled with tension. I highly recommend this to anyone intrigued by obsession, tenacity, achievement, and/or funambulism (and possibly lunacy). What a thrill!
Dec 31, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, 2016
*** I won a free copy of this book via a giveaway by the publisher on Instagram ***

To Reach the Clouds is an autobiographical recounting of the six-year plot to rig a highwire between the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in order to orchestrate an act of unsurpassed aerial artistry. This highly illegal endeavour was planned and executed by high wire artist Philippe Petite, in conjunction with a motley crew of accomplices united by a single daring and dangerous vision.

I have to admit that t
Jan 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing

“…the artistic crime of the century!” (p. 177)

“…the most splendid performance ever offered by a street-juggler/ vagabond/ high wire artist.” (pp. 190-191)

“The wire waits.” (p. 166)

Pity the fool born with an obsession for adventure, a passion for perfection, and a sterling integrity. Philippe Petit, a hero-in-high-standing of mine, is just such a fool.

For the life of me, though, I can draw absolutely no direct recollection of his greatest adventure ever—his high-wire dance betwe
Carolee Wheeler
Nov 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
Even though I knew what had happened, the book is written in such a way that we are privy to all of Petit's grandiose plans, his crushing doubts, and his ecstatic mind-babble once "the coup" is realized. The building and building and dashing and building again creates a palpable tension so that, EVEN THOUGH I KNEW WHAT HAD HAPPENED, I was still holding my breath as I read of his first steps on to the wire. Something all people of ideas should read.
sophie.connects.the.dots (on hiatus)
"Wirewalker, trust your feet! Let them lead you; they know the way."

If you have seen the movie, The Walk, then you probably know about Philippe Petit. (P.s. I think the movie actually underexaggerated his story!) If I give a story no stars it is because I think it is a story of great poetry, one too difficult to express in systematic rating. And this is one of those stories, brimming with arrogant poetry. Philippe Petit is a radical dreamer, I think. As far as safe things to say about this book
Nov 01, 2014 rated it really liked it

This is a coffee table book, large size, glossy photos.

I picked it up because, after reading Let the Great World Spin, I was curious about Philippe Petit's high wire walk between the World Trade Center towers back on August 7, 1974. I wasn't expecting a lot, but it was a "better read" than I anticipated. Also, due both to his descriptions and his photos, it's the only book I've ever read that made me feel dizzy and queasy.

His chapters are brief, ranging from one paragraph to two pages, and they
Ioana Ioana
Aug 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adventure-time
2002, Walking in the clouds

With moments of hair raising beauty, Philippe Petit’s valiant story on how he bridged the 60 meters gap between the two giants of the WTC with his wire is like no other I’ve ever read.
The contrast between elaborate, painstakingly laborious years of preparations and the chilling madness of his pursuit is haunting. His obsession is relentless, his drive unrivaled, his desire undying. He flirts with the impossible (if only love was like that!).

Is he scared?, I ask myself
Michelle Welch
Jan 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
I had already seen part of "Man on Wire," the documentary about this same highwire walk between the World Trade Center towers, before my ebook service suggested this book to me. The documentary is amazing; reading Petit's account of his walk in his own words is even more so. Gorgeously written, the book brings to life the audacity of the plan and its breathtaking conclusion, and offers a heartfelt commemoration of the twin towers.
Jul 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Petit’s description of high-wire walking is pure. But frightening, too.
Also this book is filled with the excitement and generosity that comes within anything that has to do with circus.
I 100% agree; this is a story about the perfect crime.
The best part, huh? It’s a real story.
Kim Olson
Oct 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Philippe Petit's high-wire walk between the twin towers is one of the most dazzling things I've ever seen. It was an impossible feat--dancing over a vibrating and sagging strand of wire, between two towers that sway (as towers are built to do), with the wind gusting. Even though he pulled it off, and I've seen it, I still know that it was impossible. It was a moment of magic.

As incredible as his wire walk was, planning and pulling off the escapade was nearly as impressive. He and his team had to
Apr 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The 2008 documentary 'Man on Wire' showed at the Edinburgh film festival and I have it on good authority that Sean Connery, president of the festival and present at the showing along with Philippe Petit, said it was the best cinematic experience of his life. I saw the film soon after and could understand why. So when the Hollywood remake came out last year I wasn't inspired to think about it. A book tied to a film also has a commercial ring to it but I did want to read what Philippe Petit wrote ...more
Terry Cornell
Aug 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography, adventure
I can't believe what a fast read this was! The best description I've seen is 'A thriller written by a poet'.
The story of Phillipe Petit and his wire walk between the Twin Towers in 1974. It begins with his early life and how he came to have this idea/dream. Then proceeds to the planning, information and equipment gathering for this unauthorized performance. At the end Petit writes of the process of putting together his story, written after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Not only is it Petit's st
Nickie Cleaver
Mar 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This guy was crazy! I had never heard of him or this story until seeing the movie "The Walk". Everything depicted in the movie really happened! I was amazed at how close the movie was to the book.

I just can't get over the fact he was able to pull this off, and walk between them 8 times!! It's just incredible. He had a dream, and he accomplished it, most people don't get that opportunity.

I loved the way it was written, no unnecessary background, just the facts. I loved it! This book has inspired
Aug 13, 2020 rated it it was ok
After reading Let the Great World Spin which began with a man walking between the Twin Towers on a tight rope I was curious about the actual event that Colum McCann used as a pivotal point in his novel. So I was happy to discover this book by Philippe Petit, the man who was crazy enough to pull off the actual walk.

If his book makes anything clear at all it’s the fact that Philippe Petit must indeed have been crazy. Crazy, arrogant, conceited, and completely focused on himself and his obsession w
Ikram Al
Dec 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Do you have a dream? If yes, this book would be perfect for you. This book tells us the story of Phillippe Petit which taken from the real story. The story starts when Phillipe Petit was still on the streets doing attraction to get money. Someday, he went to the dentist and when he was waiting in the line he found a newspaper featuring the twin towers. Just like being struck by lightning, Phillipe Petit found his dream to walk between these two towers.
This book is really good if you like to know
Jun 05, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The best thing I can say about this book is that it was mercifully short. Petit is no doubt a very talented man. However the book was remarkably dull and Petit portrays himself throughout as a deeply unpleasant person, often behaving like a petulant man-toddler. Annie has supported him all the way and this is the thanks she gets - "I send Annie back to France. I don't want anything to dull the splendour of my newfound fame, to slow the unrestrained and joyous tempo of my new beginning." Based on ...more
Kerran Olson
Jan 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
I decided to read this because I want to watch the movie, and I always try to read the book first. It is a really great account of Petit's journey as he conceives of the idea to walk between the Twin Towers, right up to the walk itself, and the aftermath. I didn't expect the amount of tension and suspense I felt while reading this memoir, and I was really impressed by how engaging the writing style was.
Jan 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I remember when this event happened. Petit describes exactly how he planned and executed his stunt in thus book, but that’s not what intrigued me. Petit’s own words, and his over-the-top personality are captivating. I never knew anything about the man. I only knew about the stunt. But Petit himself is far more interesting.
Christina Laflamme
Apr 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
I have seen the documentary "Man on Wire" probably two dozen times, if not more, as I show it to my students every year. I finally read his book about the same feat and enjoyed it. He's just so pompous but he gets away with it because of the beauty and magnitude of what he did, and because he does it so unapologetically it's humorous. Definitely an entertaining read.
Feb 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great read. I knew the story as I have seen the film, but it was great to read his own words and get more of the reasoning behind his walk etc. Still stressful reading about the walk itself though. He has nerves of steel!!
Dec 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite books of all time.  Philippe Petit's account of his walk on a high wire between the twin towers in 1974 is one of the finest examples of a creative person using his "art" to express the deepest part of himself.  The simple black and white photographs are breathtaking.
May 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was truly an inspirational book. Petit lives his life in the same way I strive to live mine. It is about so much more than walking on a tightrope.
Shawn Murphy
Jun 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was an awesome story, I first learned about it when the movie was released then read the book afterwards, both were extrordinarily well done. I highly recommend checking out both formats.
Gabrielle Jarrett
Aug 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Since I fell in love with Phillipe Petit through his Creativity book, I thought to read his small book but detailed experience of the Twin Tower walk. I was not disappointed.
Nov 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Almost poetic in structure. The arrogance is astounding but the story amazing and told well.
Indah Threez Lestari
224 - 2020

I love the movie version!
Apr 08, 2020 rated it liked it
A breathtaking account by the young Frenchman who clandestinely achieved his high wire walk between Manhattan's Twin Towers in 1974.
Win Htoo Shwe
May 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Thank you, Philippe, for letting me have a very pleasant time during the coronavirus pandemic.
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Philippe Petit became famous in August 1974 for his high-wire walk between the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. His walk is known as the "artistic crime of the century". Petit has performed high-wire walks around the world, and a 2008 documentary based on his adventure, Man on Wire, won numerous awards and critical praise.

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