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10 Reviews
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb evocation of turn of the century magic, 3 Mar 2006
By 
John Adams - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Hiding The Elephant: How Magicians Invented the Impossible (Paperback)
In this excellent book Jim Steinmeyer transports the reader back to the times where magic shows were the biggest draws in town. He leads us backstage to witness the scheming and stealing, and professional jealousies that drove the leading magicians of the age in their quest to find the next big trick. Considering the American background of the author he gives a surprisingly large part of the book over to the British magicians Maskelyne, Devant and Morrit.
Mr Steinmeyer knows his subject very well - he is currently the world's leading designer of stage illusions (he's the guy who designed Copperfield's Disappearance of the Statue of Liberty). He is able to describe the technical aspects of the tricks well, giving just enough information to understand the mechanics without ruining the flow of the story. He clearly revels in the innovation of Devant, Morrit and Jarrett and is capable of passing that enthusiasm to the reader.
Highly recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Make a gap in your knowledge disappear!!!, 30 April 2005
If you have or have had any interest in stage magic then do yourself a favour and get this book. It is an absolute joy to read. A really well written and page-turning history of the many characters who created the illusions which are still being used today. What I found most surprising was how attached I became to the main protagonists in my reading, so by the time you reach the 1920s-30s toward the end of the book and they start to pass away (as people tend to do) I found it all a bit sad. Yet again, this is down to Mr. Steinmeyer's wonderful style and passion for his subject. Superb!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly fascinating, 12 Sep 2009
By 
Andy Millward (Tiptree, Essex, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Hiding The Elephant: How Magicians Invented the Impossible (Paperback)
Arguably the finest history of the magical illusion ever written, this book is a riveting read from start to finish. Not only do you learn about the personalities, the egos and the vanities of the magicians themselves, the intense competitive rivalries that fuelled the development of their illusions, and precise technical details of the illusions themselves, how they arose, the issues they posed and how the showmen presented their technical wizardry. We learn for example that Houdini was a great escapologist but a lousy magician, how David Devant's act was "all done by kindness", in fact the entire history of the golden age of magic. Utterly fascinating and a must read book :D
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Remarkably pacy, 9 Nov 2005
This review is from: Hiding The Elephant: How Magicians Invented the Impossible (Paperback)
I originally bought this as it had a similar cover to "Carter Beats the Devil" and its theme looked similar. It is about late 19th and early 20th century magic but is a non fictionalised account of all the great conjurors of them time. As expected there is double crossing and subterfuge and u get a real feel for the particular shows and characters. Depsite not following a strict chronological narrative it is a surprisngly pacy piece of work and recommended to anyone who likes human interest stories. It doesn't often tell you how tricks are done but when it does it is fascinating.
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5.0 out of 5 stars 'Magical'......, 5 July 2014
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This review is from: Hiding The Elephant: How Magicians Invented the Impossible (Paperback)
paperback,351 pages,good size print.
The story of the golden age of magic.19th and early 20th century.
An absolutely fascinating account of now forgotten magicians.
Jim Steinmeyer has a wonderful way of writing. his inside knowledge,his honesty,humour and
obvious love of this wonderful world of illusions. I had no prior knowledge of any of the 25
men who star in this book. (with the exception of Houdini) Bamberg,DeKolta,Devant,Kellar,
Jarrett,Maskelyne,Morritt,Thurston to name a few.
Absolutely absorbing from start to finish.
Note: with such a history of wonderful characters and stories-Television/Film should come
knocking on the door of 'The Great Magicians'.
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5.0 out of 5 stars taken away before I read it!, 17 Jan 2013
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This review is from: Hiding The Elephant: How Magicians Invented the Impossible (Paperback)
I bought this book but it was taken by away by a visiting son who told me that he had enjoyed it very much.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A fast-paced & entertaining history of magic, 9 Jun 2011
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This review is from: Hiding The Elephant: How Magicians Invented the Impossible (Paperback)
I've read this book three times now. It was bought for me as a gift after I mentioned that I really enjoyed the movie "The Prestige".

Unlike "The Prestige" this book is historically accurate and charts the lives and careers of (mainly British) illusionsists from the halcyon days of stage magic: The Maskelynes, PT Selbit & Charles Morritt with welcome diversions across the Atlantic in chapters focussing on Harry Houdini and Howard Thurston.

Jim Steinmeyer writes in a fast-paced, engaging style, when describing complex illusions it could easily get bogged down in technical detail but Steinmeyer keeps it simple, using line-drawn illustrations and diagrams to keep the pace high. He also chooses his cast carefully - all the featured magicians are included but Steinmeyer dwells on the most interesting characters the longest without disrupting the narrative arc of the whole book.

Highly recommended.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating history of everything magical, 29 Nov 2009
This review is from: Hiding The Elephant: How Magicians Invented the Impossible (Paperback)
Lovers of magic will find this book an addictive page turner. Steinmeyer has managed to write a fascinating history of magic which is as addicitive as any novel. A few tricks of the trade are revealed but Steinmeyer has enough respect for the art of magic and his subjects to leave enough mystery surronding a lot of their work. If you want to know where David Blaine and the like get their inspiration then read this book and see how the masters did it before accusations of TV trickery exisited!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magic!, 23 Aug 2010
By 
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Just couldn't put it down after starting to read it. It's a fascinating history of the magicians and illusions of the past. It won't tell you how present day illusions are done, but here are some of the old illusions, their inventors and the extent they went to further their art. Truly fascinating and highly recommended.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great overview of the golden age of stage magic, 16 Jan 2009
By 
Alexandre Maron "Novelty Seeker" (Sao Paulo, Brazil) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Hiding The Elephant: How Magicians Invented the Impossible (Paperback)
Length:: 3:24 Mins

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Hiding The Elephant: How Magicians Invented the Impossible
Hiding The Elephant: How Magicians Invented the Impossible by Jim Steinmeyer (Paperback - 6 Oct 2005)
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