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Houdini and Conan Doyle Hardcover – 20 Oct 2011

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Gerald Duckworth & Co Ltd (20 Oct 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0715641468
  • ISBN-13: 978-0715641460
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 3 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 520,713 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'Astonishing... two great men who went from friendship to enmity in a battle over the after-life.' --Express

'A magnificently rich tale' --Guardian

'Wittgenstein and Popper, Rousseau and Hume, Leonardo and Michelangelo now it s the turn of Houdini and Conan Doyle to star in a book structured around an argument that shaped the age.' Word Magazine 'Insightful...Doyles belief in spiritualism was absolute; Houdini, who had struck séances from his stage act out of guilt, knew it so be so much apple sauce.' The Times 'Penetrating and very readable' Sherlock Holmes Society 'This is a fascinating journey into a pair of extraordinary lives.' We Love This Book 'The best book yet written on the subject of Houdini and spiritualism' --Wild About Harry blog

About the Author

Christopher Sandford has been a professional writer for 29 years. A regular contributor to Cricketer International in the eighties, he has written biographies of English cricket legends Godfrey Evans and Tom Graveney, as well as biographies of Keith Richards, Steve McQueen, Roman Polanski and, most recently, Imran Khan. His articles have appeared in, among others, The Times, Daily Telegraph, The Spectator, Cosmopolitan, Vanity Fair and the New York Times. He divides his time between Seattle and England.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By John Cox on 15 Oct 2011
Format: Hardcover
Full confession. In my 35 years of obsessive Houdini research, I've always found his anti-spiritualism crusade to be the least interesting aspect of his life and career. In fact, I've sometimes felt I've had to slog though these sections in biographies. But all this has changed with the new book 'Houdini and Conan Doyle' by Christopher Sandford, which had me riveted, and is one of those rare books that I came away from feeling like I know Houdini better.

This is actually the third major non-fiction book written about the curious relationship between these two famous men. While full props must go out to the first two books, especially Massimo Polidoro's scholarly 'Final Séance: The Strange Friendship Between Houdini and Conan Doyle' (2001), I do feel like Sandford has synthesized all previous research with his own new findings and formidable skills as a biographer to create the best book yet written on the subject of Houdini and spiritualism. And maybe the most skillfully written book about Houdini in general since Ken Silverman's 'Houdini!!! The Career of Ehrich Weiss.'

For all of Houdini's efforts to portray himself as a man of letters, it really wasn't until this book that I finally saw that man clearly. Houdini was a man of action (and reaction) to be sure, but Sandford shows he put more thought into these actions then he is generally given credit for. In other words, he really was a smart as he said he was! This is because Sandford has gained access to some key Houdini diaries (as well as some "unpublished writings" of Bernard Ernst, Houdini lawyer and close friend) that offer a counterpoint to what was going on between the two men in their letters and in public.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Gareth O'Flaherty on 2 Nov 2011
Format: Hardcover
This book is a fascinating insight into the friendship between Conan Doyle and Houdini, as well as being a potted biography of the two great men. It captures the spiritualism craze of the 1920's perfectly and how Houdini and Conan Doyle took opposite positions on the existence of spirits and spooks.
The book itself is very well written and referenced.
As a final observation, it has to be said the Conan Doyle comes across as being willing to believe every bit of superstitious bunkum and mummery that he came across. He even believed in the Cottingley Faeries, which even a child could see were fake.
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