The Secret Life of Houdini Hardcover – 20 Nov 2006
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"Kalush and Sloman appear to have raked through every known Houdini archive to produce the most comprehensive and controversial biography ever written about the man, with its contention that he was a spy who may have been murdered by a cult."-- Tony Barrell, "London Sunday Times"
About the Author
William Kalush is one of the most respected names in the world of magic. Founder of the Conjuring Arts Research Centre, he has collaborated with David Blaine on the magician's world-famous stunts and television specials. Larry 'Ratso' Sloman is an award-winning author best known for his collaboration with Howard Stern on PRIVATE PARTS and MISS AMERICA.
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Top Customer Reviews
But what of this "spy" thing? Okay. Very quickly - in 1902/3 Houdini sent "reports" from Germany and Russia back to Superintendent Melville of Scotland Yard (who was then head of what could be considered British Intelligence). Does this mean Houdini was a spy, or just a letter writer who felt compelled to report what he was seeing to his friend in London? Authors Bill Kalush and Larry Sloman do make some interesting connections back to America and the shenanigans with Houdini's passport application...but it's all very speculative. For me, this "spy revelation" is just one of many, many new nuggets of information to be found within these fascinating 560 pages...and it's not even the most interesting nugget at that.
I was much more taken with the revelation of Bess Houdini's suicide attempt; a potential third Houdini mistress (Milla Barry); the attack on Houdini's brother in his Harlem home; the Russian Royal family's Rasputian-like fascination with the magician; Montraville M. Wood's involvement in the development of the Milk Can and USD; Lord Northcliff's role in Houdini's aviation career; Houdini's private secret service formed to expose spiritualists (Houdini actually bought a barbershop and trained an agent as a barber so they could communicate incognito); and the very troubling revelation that Margery and Dr. Crandon may have had a hand in the disappearance of several young English boys (freaky stuff this).Read more ›
Houdini was a showman, a raconteur and someone known to bear a grudge and used his influence within magician's circles to lambast others who he felt were either frauds or plagiarisers of his inventions within his profession.Read more ›
If you are interested in performing escapes or conjuring, then it is probably not for you. But if you want to know about the master of misdirection, escapology and his life then it is a MUST READ.
A rather daunting prospect - 600 pages of small type on any subject. This one, I just had to try though - after seeing the television miniseries at Christmas (2014), I really wanted to know more about Houdini, who was suddenly a much more complex and interesting figure than I'd ever realised.
And 600 pages did fly. I took a while over it as I read it over a holiday, but I thoroughly enjoyed the long look at what amounted really to several lives in one.
The authors had clearly done immense amounts of research and turned their hard work into a narrative based around Houdini's stunts, illusions and significant life events, using letters, eyewitness stories and known transcripts of what surely is one of the most significant and interesting lives of the last century.
We follow Houdini from a poor childhood into the world of magic, to meeting his wife, achieving success in his field, innovating and making waves around the world, to his experiments with early flight, cinema and a significant portion looking at his efforts to discredit fake mediums. Wow. Just one life, Harry?
The surprises just kept coming. The injuries he sustained, the lengths he went to for publicity and an audience, Houdini as a magician is magnificent enough a subject. And yet that's just one part of his story.
His famous demise is also covered in depth, and the long-lasting efforts to seek out the truth about his death is objectively covered.
Everything you would want to read about is here - bar one thing. I wanted to see behind some of his tricks, see how the illusions were created. Though I can understand that this isn't the point of the book, though I was disappointed.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A rather daunting prospect - 600 pages of small type on any subject. This one, I just had to try though - after seeing the television miniseries at Christmas... Read more
I gave up on this before I'd finished Page 1, which might not seem fair or reasonable - but I'll explain. It's not a biography, it's not non-fiction - it's a NOVEL! Read morePublished 17 months ago by Martynrb
I was leant this book by a friend who assured me I would love it, despite not before having professed any real interest in Houdini. Read morePublished on 22 Jun. 2014 by The Grimshh
from childhood to show business from age of 9, leaving home at 12 years of age to seek his fortune. BESS. the circus life.
METAMORPHOSIS. straight jacket escapes. Read more