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Fooling Houdini: Magicians, Mentalists, Math Geeks & the Hidden Powers of the Mind Hardcover – 19 Jun 2012
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"Alex Stone's "Fooling Houdini" is a delight. In the physics Ph.D program at Columbia, he drops everything to pursue the murky world of magic. He writes with wit and scientific sharpness and grand humor. He immerses us in a fascinating world few have ever entered."--Buzz Bissinger, author of "Father's Day" and "Friday Night Lights"
""Fooling Houdini" is an eye-opening, irresistible journey into the world of magic. Stone has written a masterful story that is bursting with energy, inventiveness, and a sense of wonder on every page. I couldn't put it down!"--Steven Levitt, co-author of "Freakonomics"
""Fooling Houdini" is a totally smart and engrossing study of one of America's most misunderstood sub-cultures, and at the same time the story of one man's quest to probe the mysteries of magic, science, and where the two meet."--John Hodgman, author of "The Areas of My Expertise"
"What I loved most about "Fooling Houdini" is the world it takes us into: these huddled cliques of obsessed magicians reinventing their art. . . . This book makes you want to do magic tricks, and convinces you just how hard it is to do them well."--Ira Glass, host of "This American Life"
""Fooling Houdini" is not only informative, but highly entertaining. Stone has pulled the proverbial rabbit out of the hat."--"USA Today"
"An affable new book. . . . What differentiates "Fooling Houdini" is Stone's determination to understand the science behind his craft."--"The Daily Beast"
"This book is clever and winning -- and well written, too. In turning our attention away from the magic and towards the magicians, Stone has pulled off an excellent trick."--"The Sunday Times" (London)
"The funniest book I read all year."--Bob Schieffer
An enthralling journey into the inner world of magic. Alex Stone writes with a winning voice that you ll want to follow anywhere. --Joshua Foer, author of "Moonwalking with Einstein""
What I loved most about "Fooling Houdini" is the world it takes us into: these huddled cliques of obsessed magicians reinventing their art. . . . This book makes you want to do magic tricks, and convinces you just how hard it is to do them well. --Ira Glass, host of "This American Life""
From the Back Cover
When Alex Stone was five years old, his father bought him a magic kit--a gift that would spark a lifelong love. Years later, while living in New York City, he discovered a vibrant underground magic scene exploding with creativity and innovation and populated by a fascinating cast of characters: from his gruff mentor, who holds court in the back of a rundown pizza shop, to one of the world's greatest card cheats, who also happens to be blind. Captivated, he plunged headlong into this mysterious world, eventually competing at the Magic Olympics and training with great magicians around the globe to perfect his craft.
From the back rooms of New York City's century-old magic societies to cutting-edge psychology labs; three-card monte on Canal Street to glossy Las Vegas casinos; Fooling Houdini recounts Stone's quest to join the ranks of master magicians. As he navigates this quirky and occasionally hilarious subculture, Stone pulls back the curtain on a community shrouded in secrecy, fueled by obsession and brilliance, and organized around a single overriding need: to prove one's worth by deceiving others.
But his journey is more than a tale of tricks, gigs, and geeks. In trying to understand how expert magicians manipulate our minds to create their astonishing illusions, Stone uncovers a wealth of insight into human nature and the nature of perception. Every turn leads to questions about how the mind perceives the world and processes everyday experiences. By investigating some of the lesser-known corners of psychology, neuroscience, physics, history, and even crime, all through the lens of trickery and illusion, Fooling Houdini arrives at a host of startling revelations about how the mind works--and why, sometimes, it doesn't.See all Product description
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But note that it is *not* a book *on* magic (which is what a reviewer in "The New Yorker" rather stupidly thought). It is a travelogue through magic clubs, conventions, and associated arts. In my mind, its analog is "Alex's Adventures in Numberland", which narrates a similar journey through mathematics.
My main criticism of the book is that it does not contain references. Agreed the author states that they're on his website, but when examined I couldn't find the references I was looking for - for all I know, some of the text and stories could be completely anecdotal. As an ex-scientific researcher and current technical author, I found this incredibly frustrating.
In spite of this, however, I would recommend it - though perhaps not to some of the "jeremiahs" of The Magic Circle.
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