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Houdini on Magic [Paperback]

Harry Houdini
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

June 1 1953 Dover Magic Books
Written by the master magician himself, this fascinating work reveals the secrets behind how Houdini escaped numerous death-defying stunts and exposed a variety of fake spiritualists. He also gives instructions for 44 eye-catching stage tricks, as well as other fascinating material. 155 illustrations.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book about all of Houdini's writings. Jan. 27 2000
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This book is simply fantastic. It contains a large amount of Houdini's writings from articles, books, etc. It contains Houdini's famous "Margery the Medium" pamplet where he exposes her false methods, explains in Houdini's words how he escapes from a straitjacket, and also tells about an illusion that Houdini was thinking about performing, but never did. A wonderful book with many pictures and illustrations.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Even Old Harry Would Insist ... Aug. 3 2001
Format:Paperback
... that readers not be deceived by the title of this book. This book was not written by Houdini. It was written by other writers, and yet it contains articles that were penned by the man himself.
There's sometimes a jarring lack of continuity between the chapters because of this, and there are sections that seem only peripherally related to Houdini: sections about how various magic tricks are done. These sections were not written by Houdini himself, in his "voice" describing how he accomplished thus and so escape on a particular day (although there are a couple of examples of that in these pages). These long sections were merely the editors of the book describing how magicians of Houdini's time did various stock tricks. This knowledge in itself is invaluable and quite enjoyable, but it wanders from discussing Houdini.
I was looking for a direct view into the man and his thoughts on his art ... what I got was only periodic windows into that territory, stitched together with a couple of chapters that - honestly - felt like filler material meant to lengthen the book.
If you buy this book, you will enjoy it. You will gain valuable information about Houdini. But you won't feel his spirit in the pages as much as the title would lead you to believe.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Classic Magic Tricks July 3 2001
Format:Paperback
It is commonly said that you should never read a book on magic tricks unless you are willing to learn a trick and show it to your friends and not tell the secret. Disclaimers aside, this book has material useful for beginners, and for those who wish to make complex apparatus and only a few of the tricks might pose a risk to your life. The material on fraud commit by mediums is very interesting. It can further be said that Houdini was a very good writer.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Secrets Revealed Dec 19 1999
Format:Paperback
Everything Houdini is revealed in this book. Secrets you would have thought died with Houdini are simply here for your enjoyment. This book was written after the great magician's demise but apparently with his blessings. He had already made preperations for a series of books on magic and his escapes. All his notes and basis for the book were in his wife's possession for the writer to ressurrect in "Houdini on Magic". It's explained in detail to any aspiring escape artists, how to extricate ones self from a straight jacket. How he escaped from various kinds of locks and hand cuffs (some rigged.) The best and worst kinds of rope and knots to be bound by to guarantee an escape. It appears the most difficult escape he made was when the audience further wrapped the already tied Houdini in wet bed sheets. Surprisingly, Houdini did not honor any code of silence. As soon as copy-cat performers began using his material, he would publish the secrets. Houdini was always improving his act and staying ahead of any so called rivals. There's some great black and white photos including one of Houdini with his beloved airplane. Amazingly, he was the first person to fly an airplane in Australia. An assortment of tricks and illussions are described. As well as his crusade to unmask fraudulent spritualists preying on the recently bereived. There's a great bit of irony regarding Houdini's own death and the casket he was buried in. It's about the man and his craft, enjoy.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Secrets Revealed Dec 19 1999
By Rick Bloom - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Everything Houdini is revealed in this book. Secrets you would have thought died with Houdini are simply here for your enjoyment. This book was written after the great magician's demise but apparently with his blessings. He had already made preperations for a series of books on magic and his escapes. All his notes and basis for the book were in his wife's possession for the writer to ressurrect in "Houdini on Magic". It's explained in detail to any aspiring escape artists, how to extricate ones self from a straight jacket. How he escaped from various kinds of locks and hand cuffs (some rigged.) The best and worst kinds of rope and knots to be bound by to guarantee an escape. It appears the most difficult escape he made was when the audience further wrapped the already tied Houdini in wet bed sheets. Surprisingly, Houdini did not honor any code of silence. As soon as copy-cat performers began using his material, he would publish the secrets. Houdini was always improving his act and staying ahead of any so called rivals. There's some great black and white photos including one of Houdini with his beloved airplane. Amazingly, he was the first person to fly an airplane in Australia. An assortment of tricks and illussions are described. As well as his crusade to unmask fraudulent spritualists preying on the recently bereived. There's a great bit of irony regarding Houdini's own death and the casket he was buried in. It's about the man and his craft, enjoy.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book about all of Houdini's writings. Jan. 27 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book is simply fantastic. It contains a large amount of Houdini's writings from articles, books, etc. It contains Houdini's famous "Margery the Medium" pamplet where he exposes her false methods, explains in Houdini's words how he escapes from a straitjacket, and also tells about an illusion that Houdini was thinking about performing, but never did. A wonderful book with many pictures and illustrations.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic Magic Tricks July 3 2001
By Yeaton Clifton - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
It is commonly said that you should never read a book on magic tricks unless you are willing to learn a trick and show it to your friends and not tell the secret. Disclaimers aside, this book has material useful for beginners, and for those who wish to make complex apparatus and only a few of the tricks might pose a risk to your life. The material on fraud commit by mediums is very interesting. It can further be said that Houdini was a very good writer.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Book for Every Magician, Professional and Amateur April 20 2009
By John M. Lowe - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It should go without saying that devotees of magic as a performing art will love this book. Even today, Harry Houdini (1874-1926), who came to fame during the Vaudeville era, is still regarded as the greatest magician of modern times. This book, published posthumously, is Houdini's personal account of his most famous escapes and feats. The secret workings of forty-four of his best stage tricks are revealed in this book.

More than a book of magic tricks, this volume gives Houdini's perspective on the history of magic and tells about Houdini's efforts to expose the fraud being perpetuated in his day by spiritualists and mediums.

From my point of view as an amateur magician, my favorite chapter is number 6, "Houdini on Tricks." In this chapter, Houdini tells how to perform what became my best-loved impromptu magic trick, the Four Coin Assembly. It is perfect for those occasions when someone asks you unexpectedly to do a trick. The props -- a handkerchief, four coins, and two postcards -- can be borrowed. No preparation is necessary. The magician spreads the handkerchief flat on the table. The four coins are laid on top of the four corners of the handkerchief. Postcards are used to cover two of the coins. One of the exposed coins is picked up by the fingers of the right hand, its corner of the handkerchief is raised by the left hand, the coin is slipped beneath the raised corner, fingers are snapped, the right hand is removed, shown empty, and then picks up a postcard to reveal a two-coin assembly. The postcard is returned to cover those two coins. The second coin still on display is picked up by the right hand, its corner of the handkerchief is raised, the coin is slipped beneath the raised corner, fingers are snapped, and again the right hand is removed, shown empty, picks up the postcard, and reveals a three-coin assembly. The postcard is laid back down on top of the three coins. Then, with a wave of the hand over the card shrouding one coin, followed by a wave of the hand above the card screening three coins, the first card is lifted to reveal handkerchief only and no coin. The second card is lifted to show all four coins assembled in one place. Yes, this Four Coin Assembly requires sleight-of-hand, but the level of difficulty is easy. With practice, you, too, can perform one of Harry Houdini's favorite close-up tricks.

About the Editors. (1) Walter B. Gibson (1897-1985), a professional magician and writer, was hand-picked by Harry Houdini, Howard Thurston, Harry Blackstone, and Joseph Dunninger to ghost-write several of their magic books and exposés. Gibson came to fame in his own right under the pen-name of Maxwell Grant as the creator of The Shadow during the golden age of radio. Gibson wrote 282 Shadow novels and more than 100 books on magic, psychic phenomena, true crime, mysteries, rope knots, yoga, hypnotism, and games. Under the pen-name of Andy Adams, Gibson authored several mystery adventure novels in the Biff Brewster juvenile series of the 1960s. (2) Morris N. Young (1909-2002) was an ophthalmologist whose life, it seems, was devoted to the letter "M." His life-long interests were Medicine, Magic, Mnemonics, Music, and Marriage. He lived in Manhattan. His parents named him Morris. He Majored in chemistry at MIT. He served in the Military during WWII, reconstructing the faces of wounded soldiers. He wrote books on Mentalism and Mindreading. He collected hymn books featuring Methodist songs. Dr. Young's wife, Chesley, insisted that the most important M in Dr. Young's life stood for their Magical Marriage of fifty-four years.
5.0 out of 5 stars nice book Aug. 9 2012
By zach - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
magic always intrigued me and so did harry Houdini, you get a whole new respect and outlook on the man after reading this book. this book explains how humble, and how good of a person he was besides being a great performer, magic is a fascinating subject and any one who finds it interesting needs to read this book
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