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A Second Wind

A Second Wind

The True Story that Inspired the Motion Picture The Intouchables

“He was unbearable, vain, proud, brutal, inconsistent, human. Without him, I would have rotted to death. . . . He was my guardian devil.”

As the descendant of two prominent French families and director of one of the world’s most celebrated champagne houses, Philippe Pozzo di Borgo was not someone in the habit of asking for help. Then, in 1993, right on the heels of his wife being diagnosed with a terminal illness, a paragliding accident left him a quadriplegic.

Passing his days hidden behind the high walls of his Paris townhouse, Philippe found himself the modern equivalent of an “untouchable”—unable to reach out to others, as others were afraid to reach out to him. The only person who seemed unaffected by Philippe’s condition was someone who had been marginalized his entire life—Abdel, the unemployed, uninhibited Algerian immigrant who would become his unlikely caretaker. In between dramas and jokes, he sustained Philippe’s life for the next ten years.

A Second Wind, the basis for the major motion picture The Intouchables, is the inspiring true story of two men who refused to ask for help, and then wound up helping each other.
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  • Atria Books | 
  • 272 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781451689709 | 
  • May 2012
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Memories Unbound

THE FAULT LINE running through my bones, through my every breath, may be the day of the accident: on June 23, 1993, I became paralyzed. But then on May 3, 1996, St. Philip’s Day, Béatrice died. So now I have no past, I have no claim to the future, I am just this pain that I feel at every moment. Béatrice has been stripped back in the same way, reduced to this ever-present feeling of loss. And yet there is a future, that of our two children, Laetitia and Robert-Jean.

Until the accident, I was someone in the world, anxious to leave my mark on events, to make things; since then I... see more
My Senses

I WAS SOMEBODY ONCE. Now I’m paralyzed, I’ve lost almost all sensation in my body. But even so, somewhere among the excruciating pain, there are still delicious memories of the senses that have abandoned me.

Retrieving my shattered body’s experiences, inch by inch, memory by memory, is a form of survival. Working back from my current immobility, putting a chaotic mass of short-lived sensations into some sort of chronological order, helps me to reclaim my past and reconnect my two entirely separate lives.


A FLUSH of confusion sets my whole body aglow.... see more

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About the Author

Philippe Pozzo di Borgo

Philippe Pozzo di Borgo spent his childhood in Paris, London, Amsterdam, Trinidad, Morocco, Algeria and Corsica. He now lives in Essaouira, Morocco. A descendent of both the Ducs Pozzo di Borgo and the Marquises de Vogue, he is the former director of Pommery Champagnes (LVMH). His bestselling memoir Le Second Souffle (Second Wind) served as the basis for the hit French film, Intouchables (Untouchables).




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