Circuses: Death on the High Wire

Four generations of the German Wallenda family had been performing on high wires over a period of 88 years, without a fatal injury. Night after night, they went on working 50 ft. or more in the air, never with nets beneath, death always below them. For all their poles, chairs, bicycles and gymnastic skills, what kept the act booked was the universal tension engendered in every watcher by the knowledge that the Flying Wallendas might fall.

Last week in Detroit, the Wallendas formed a six-man pyramid topped by a young lady in a...

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