From the back rooms of New York City’s age-old magic societies to cutting-edge psychology labs, three-card monte games on Canal Street to glossy Las Vegas casinos, Fooling Houdini recounts Alex Stone’s quest to join the ranks of master magicians.
As he navigates this quirky and occasionally hilarious subculture populated by brilliant eccentrics, Stone pulls back the curtain on a community shrouded in secrecy, fueled by obsession and brilliance, and organized around one overriding need: to prove one’s worth by deceiving others.
But his journey is more than a tale of tricks, gigs, and geeks. By investing 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.
Entranced by magic tricks at age five, science journalist Stone argues that stage magic "lets us suspend adulthood and retrieve... the childlike sense of astonishment that fades as we age." Having taken "an almost perverse joy in stupefying illustrious faculty" at Columbia, where he received a master's in physics, Stone began to discover "connections between magic and science," and this book explores those linkages in depth. Beginning in Stockholm with the 2006 World Championship of Magic, he attended a Society of American Magicians initiation and visited Tannen's, the New York City store where magicians share secrets. Seeking formal training, Stone arrived in Vegas for classes at the Magic and Mystery School, returning to New York for intense sessions with a sleight-of-hand expert in false shuffles and card cheats. Along with magic history, he covers con games and grifters, finger fitness, studies in attention and perception, the psychology of touching, and tactile card skills of the legally blind. Stone also details how he made enemies when he violated the magician's code of secrecy by revealing tricks in a Harper's article. With many fascinating anecdotes up his sleeve, Stone conjures an entertaining book.
Customer ReviewsSee All
This book serves to re-connect the art of Magic to it’s ancient roots in science and mystical arts. It successfully combines the arcane with the the world of science in a way that the layman can understand.
Thoroughly enjoyable; irresistible! And you don't have to be a Magic enthusiast...
This is a thoroughly enjoyable book. It's as if Mr. Stone says to you, "I'm going on this amazingly cool journey. Want to come along?" (And I'm sure he'd say it better than that!)
His writing style is entertaining, irresistible, informative, and many other positives. It was a little sad for me as I reached the last page. (Add addicting?)
Pick it up (virtually or otherwise) & Enjoy!
Offers insight to magic tricks
Can be tedious at times but offers info that can only come from an insider.