Houdini!: The Career of Ehrich Weiss: American Self-Liberator, Europe's Eclipsing Sensation, World's Handcuff King & Prison Brea

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9780060928629: Houdini!: The Career of Ehrich Weiss: American Self-Liberator, Europe's Eclipsing Sensation, World's Handcuff King & Prison Brea

In the most comprehensive biography written about the great illusionist yet, author Ken Silverman, who has won both a Pulitzer and a Bancroft prize, draws on never-before-used scrapbooks, personal diaries, court transcripts and hundreds of unpublished notes and letters collected from around the world to reveal a far richer, more personal view of Houdini than ever before. While Silverman focuses on the magic and miraculous escapes that made Houdini a legend and the most celebrated, highest-paid performer of his day, he also delves deeply into Houdini's fascinating personal life. He explores Houdini's many friendships with politicians and celebrities like Jack Dempsey, Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas Edison, Jack London, the Astors and others. He looks into his traumatic encounters with anti-Semitism; his close-knit family; his strange and troubled relationship with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; and his bitter war against spiritualism. He also uncovers new revelations about Houdini's secret affair with the widow of a famous American writer.

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Review:

Silverman's engaging biography catalogs the life of Harry Houdini, born Ehrich Weiss, who made a career out of his capacity to amaze. Having developed conjuring skills and an ability to wriggle free of handcuffs, ropes and manacles, Houdini elaborated his tricks into theatrical set pieces that made him famous--stunts like escaping from a strait jacket while dangling head down from a skyscraper, or from a wooden packing crate submerged in water. Silverman's meticulously researched book reveals other sides to the great illusionist too. Houdini collected a library of books on magic, wrote books himself, exposed shyster psychics whose tricks he could easily match, and was a friend to Jack London, Sarah Bernhardt and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

About the Author:

Kenneth Silverman is a professor of English, a graduate advisor in American Civilization, co-director of The Biography Seminar at New York University, and an amateur magician. He lives in New York City.

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Silverman, Kenneth
Published by Perennial (HarperCollins) (1997)
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