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1. Who Was Harry Houdini? (Who Was...?)
2. The Secret Life of Houdini: The
3. Harry Houdini (DK Biography)
4. A Picture Book of Harry Houdini
5. Harry Houdini (Campfire Graphic
6. Houdini on Magic
7. Harry Houdini: Master Of Magic
8. The Houdini Box
9. Harry Houdini for Kids: His Life
10. Harry Houdini (Kids Can Read)
11. Harry Houdini
12. The Secrets of Houdini
13. The Life and Many Deaths of Harry
14. Harry Houdini : Young Magician
15. The Haunting of America: From
16. Escape!: The Story of the Great
17. Houdini!!!: The Career of Ehrich
18. Spellbinder: The Life of Harry
19. The Miracle Mongers, an Exposé
20. Final Seance: The Strange Friendship

1. Who Was Harry Houdini? (Who Was...?)
by Tui Sutherland
Paperback: 112 Pages (2002-07-22)
list price: US$4.99 -- used & new: US$0.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0448426862
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Every kid has heard of Harry Houdini, the famous magician who could escape from handcuffs, jail cells, and locked trunks. But do they know that the ever-ambitious and adventurous Houdini was also a famous movie star and the first pilot to fly a plane in Australia? This well-told biography is full of the details of Houdini's life that kids will really want to know about and illustrated throughout with beautiful black-and-white line drawings.

Illustrated by John O'Brien.
Cover Illustration by Nancy Harrison. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars 7 year-old son LOVED it.
I read this book aloud to my 7 year-old son, and once we started, he did not want to stop. I've tried to read other biographies to him and many I have found so boring and poorly written that I dreaded finishing them. Not so with this one!This was written so as to be interesting for both children and adults.The author weaves in discussion of various historical events and figures and provides just the right amount of detail and analysis at just the right level of sophistication for elementary aged children (e.g., World War I, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Spiritualism, The Wright Brothers' first flight, etc.).He doesn't avoid difficult subjects like death, war, and poverty but at the same time maintains a reassuring tone appropriate for children.The upshot was that we both learned a lot from this book and had a great time reading it.I've now ordered 8 more books in the series and am looking forward to reading them aloud to my son. I can imagine that in a year or so he'll be reading these books on his own and using them for school reports.As an educational psychologist, I will highly recommend this series for my "reluctant readers" who often complain that reading (particularly expository text) is "boring."

5-0 out of 5 stars my son loved it
What a great book for a kid. My third grader loved it. With houdini in the news again, and the recent movies about magicians out, it's something kids are becoming interested in again.

5-0 out of 5 stars Harry Houdini-More than An Illusionist

If the picture on the cover is any indication, Harry Houdini is Sean Penn (there's a striking resemblance).This is an interesting book in the "Who Was" series, detailing Houdini's impoverished boyhood in America (after emigrating from Hungary), his early interest in magic, and a turning point, his discovery of a book about Jean-Eugene Robert-Houdin, the "father of modern magic."

Author Sutherland divided the book into 12 chapters, each beginning with "So you want to be a (Magician, Pilot, Hero, Detective, etc.), detailing Houdini's feats in many areas. Several of the escape illusions are briefly explained (including Houdini's great illusion making an elephant disappear!), and there's a humorous bent as the author admits that it's difficult to tell which of Houdini's many statements about himself are true!Houdini traveled from town to town, and it wasn't until he Martin Beck, head of the Orpheum Circuit's (a string of vaudeville houses), discovered Houdini that he earned international acclaim, staying five years in Europe.The book does a good job at showing how Houdini worked hard at his illusions, and how this practice (and a penchant for self-promotion) catapulted him to fame. It also emphasizes the real dangers and near disasters that Houdini faced, a far cry from today's televised illusionists.

Sutherland does a great job of providing relatively unknown information about Houdini: He was the first person to fly an airplane in Australia, his wife played an important part in his stage act, he was in five movies, and he and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (the author of the Sherlock Holmes series) debated the validity of Spiritualism (Houdini thought it was an exploitative sham).Sidebars about, for example, airplanes, movies, WWI add a historical context, During WW1, Houdini raised money for American troops, did shows for the wounded, and even taught soldiers how to escape from German handcuffs!

This is a fascinating book that teaches a lot about Houdini and his times. Sutherland doesn't talk down to his readers, and both adults and kids will learn a great deal. The book may even begin or reinforce someone's ambition to perform magic tricks and illusions. John O'Brien's small black and white illustrations add an important measure of interest. 105 pages, with sidebars, two timelines, but no index. ... Read more

2. The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America's First Superhero
by William Kalush, Larry Sloman
Paperback: 608 Pages (2007-10-02)
list price: US$18.00 -- used & new: US$6.48
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0743272080
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Handcuff King. Escape Artist. International Superstar. Since his death eighty years ago, Harry Houdini's life has been chronicled in books, in film, and on television. Now, in this groundbreaking biography, renowned magic expert William Kalush and bestselling writer Larry Sloman team up to find the man behind the myth. Drawing from millions of pages of research, they describe in vivid detail the passions that drove Houdini to perform ever-more-dangerous feats, his secret life as a spy, and a pernicious plot to subvert his legacy.

The Secret Life of Houdini traces the arc of the master magician's life from desperate poverty to worldwide fame -- his legacy later threatened by a group of fanatical Spiritualists led by esteemed British author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Initiating the reader along the way into the arcane world of professional magic, Kalush and Sloman decode a life based on deception, providing an intimate and riveting portrayal of Houdini, the man and the legend. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (53)

5-0 out of 5 stars Detailed, Rich Account of Houdini's Life - Great for Newcomers
I can say without reservation this text is an extremely informative and wonderfully enjoyable read about Houdini as a man, a magician, and a driven social and political participant.I would highly recommend the book to anyone just plainly interested in Houdini, as well as anyone new to magic performance history studies.I've read the other reviews and I appreciate the specifics and concerns that come from readers who have studied Houdini for a long while.Their comments remind us that all biographies have particularities we should be aware of.

But I believe this is a perfect book to inform all levels of readers interested Houdini.It explores in a very lively and thorough way some of his intensely personal risks that could not be clearly calculated and controlled.I always suggest it to my friends when they ask me "What's a good book about Houdini?"It's just a terrific place to begin.

4-0 out of 5 stars Extensively researched and well-written
It is now over 80 years since Houdini's death and he is still one of the most well-known personalities of the 20thcentury.This book definitely adds to the lore surrounding him and illuminates his legacy for the 21st century.This is a very extensively researched and well-written book.Every aspect of Houdini's life is written about in amazing detail, perhaps in too great detail, but more about this later.

This book covers the life of Erich Weiss, AKA Erik Weiss, AKA Houdini, from birth to death and for years after.The book details his early life and beginnings in show business, his rise to fame as the "handcuff king", and if not the inventor of the "escape act" at least person who turned it into an art and an act into itself, his struggles to prevent others from copying his act, his movie career, and his crusade against spiritualism.Unlike some of the earlier books written about his life, this one discuses his infidelities and the fact that his life with his wife Bess was not the ideal one described in earlier books, which leaned heavily on her recollections.

The inside book jacket and publicity makes much of Houdini possibly having acted as a secret agent for the US and British governments, although the text does not quite live up to this hype and relatively little of the book is actually devoted to this aspect of his life.He may have sent "traveler observations" to these governments, but this probably did not add up to espionage - at least no evidence was provided that he actually broke the law in order to obtain any information. The authors also believe that he acted in the US as an agent for the secret service, but here again the evidence is circumstantial at best.

The author's seem to cover Houdini's life in almost month-by-month (sometimes even day-by-day) detail, and in my opinion this is a case where less would have been more. After a while the endless repetition of his conflicts with different handcuff and escape artists gets a bit tedious.The same is true for his crusades against spiritualists and fraudulent mediums.These stories were interesting, but only up to a point and the sameness of them caused me to rate the book as 4 stars instead of five stars.I liked the book, but I would have liked it more if the story telling was tightened up a bit, with a little less detail and more analysis of the man and what drove him with an almost maniacal intensity.

5-0 out of 5 stars Best Source/Version of Houdini Information
I cannot even elaborate on this for want of minutely detailing the pages of this book in praise. The amount of Houdini accounts that I have read do not collectively compare to the trustworthy nature that Sloman and Kalush put forth in this biography. In my personal opinion, I detect professionalism and 'thorough' research emanating from the pages of this absolutely phenomenal telling of the amazing soul/spy/illusionist/investigator/inventor. Like so many other mysterious figures of our past, Houdini is attached to a variety of misconceptions and ideas that finally obtain some justice in this book.

An alluring behind-the-scenes look is presented into Houdini's many professions, personal life, the other areas so often untouched when speaking of Houdini [i.e., personal beliefs, connections to certain people, his incredible heart, et al.], as well as a fantastic posthumous recap with Beatrice and his relatives.

This biography is one of my top five favorite pieces of literature. A sacred treasure on my shelf.

4-0 out of 5 stars Interesting Bio
I came to this book with a very limited knowledge of Houdini - magician, escape artist and his premature death - hence much of what I read here was new to me. Compared to other historical biographies this volume comes up a little short. There are gaps in the history, the narrative becomes repetitive - how many escapes can one read about? - and there is plenty of conjecture. For instance was Houdini an Allied spy prior to World War I? -A premise that is not as far fetched nor as interesting as you may initially think.

But to give credit where credit is due, the authors have researched most if not all of the written material available - letters, journals, newspapers - and this may be as detailed as we'll get into the life and times of Erich Weiss, aka Harry Houdini, whose livelihood -obviously - was based on secrets. So convention aside I learned plenty from this book.

Houdini was a tireless, self-promoting, perfectionist when it came to his act and reputation and was seemingly shackled, bound, tied up and stuck inside a box night after night here in North America and in Europe - to escape again and again - for years.

As if that wasn't enough he was also locked into prison cells; tossed off of bridges bound, handcuffed and usually tied to a heavy weight; or hung upside down in straitjackets above crowds; always successfully escaping. These escapades and some secrets are chronicled in detail here in this book.

Houdini was also an early aviation enthusiast and the first man to fly a plane in Australia and at the end of his career became the bane of all spiritualists, exposing many of them as frauds. This involved him in very public feuds with the likes of Arthur Conan Doyle, author of the Sherlock Holmes stories and married to a "spiritualist". This last chapter in Houdini's life is fascinating and of which I knew very little about. One reads this finale book rooting for Houdini just as much as during his "escapes".

Although not a "conventional" biography - Houdini is not a "conventional" subject -I'd still recommend this book, even with its faults I found it entertaining, engaging, and informative.

3-0 out of 5 stars "...never have I forgotten that fact that 'life is but an empty dream'"---Harry Houdini
Reading the introduction to "The Secret Life of Houdini" made it sound like a must read.The authors describe it as "the first Houdini biography of the new digital age."They fed a myriad of magic documents into a text-searchable database that offers tens of thousands of references to Houdini.They discovered a closet full of scrapbooks and materials on spiritual medium and Houdini nemesis Margery and an uncensored diary of the Head of Scotland Yard's Special Branch that references Houdini.The bombshell of their massive work (and, no doubt, source of the title) is that Houdini was a spy who worked for the Secret Service and Scotland Yard.After reading through the 560 pages, all that wealth of data did not support the exciting claims.

"Secret Life" is a very thorough account of the life of Houdini, although the majority of the book would not be considered "secret."It documents Ehrich Weiss's humble roots, his beginnings as an escape artist, his performances across the United States and Europe, the quest to create and perfect new magic acts, the pursuit of imitators, his work as an author and magic historian, his accomplishments in aviation, his patriotism and devotion to his mother, and his fight against corrupt spiritualists.These subjects are part of Houdini's public life, though.

As for the "secret life" of Houdini, the authors resort to speculation and assumption.The Secret Service chief had used entertainers before in his intelligence work setting a precedent for using Houdini (68-70).Houdini was on the West Coast the same time the Secret Service was there to investigate fake silver dollars (83).Houdini exchanged a naturalized passport for a native born passport to avoid German suspicion while he was there to, among other things, send reports to Scotland Yard chief William Melville on such things as the Krupp munitions factory he visited (111-16).Houdini "in all likelihood" was in the crowd of the Kaiser after a display of Germany's military might.The uncensored diary of Melville produced the one eye-opening entry offered in this book: "no word yet from HH" (229).The authors think he met with Secret Service chief John Wilkie during a ten-day visit to New York (126).Houdini was on the same ship as the Captain of Military Intelligence Robert Goelet (309) and was in Texas during his aviator period the same time the First Areo Squadron met in San Antonio (319).He played Secret Service characters in his films (354) and created his own secret service and fact-gathering force in his pursuit to take down phony mediums.He was asked in court if a man, who happened to be a former Secret Service operative, was a member of the Society of American Magicians. Two sisters claimed that Houdini told them he was a Prohibition rum-runner for the government which was "confirmed" by another source who got his information from the same ladies (is getting information from the same source considered "confirmation"?) (438). These examples make up the authors' case that Houdini was a spy.A lot of coincidences?Yes.But, I don't think it is enough on which to base a 560-page book.

The wealth of sources on Margery produced a lengthy and drawn-out section on Spiritualism with some nasty details regarding her seances.The authors include some interesting speculation that Houdini's death was caused by revenge-minded Spiritualists, but no concrete evidence is provided.There is no "wow" moment.The book is incredibly well-researched to the point that the sources are so numerous they were put on a website rather than included in the book.The writing style, for the most part, makes for an enjoyable read; however, I did not like the way they started some of the sections.The chapters are divided into many sections and sometimes they began a section with descriptions and pronouns giving it a mysterious quality.For example, in one section the reader is made to think Houdini was attacked in his home (only pronouns were used) only for it to be revealed that it was one of his brothers.This "mysterious" style was done enough to become annoying.Also, they explain their style as turning "facts into dialogue."The first part of chapter one describing Houdini being buried alive is written in a way that tries to get into Houdini's head.I normally do not like authors trying to read minds in history books, but thought it would be intriguing in this case.Alas, they do not do this again.In sum, the book is a wealth of information on Houdini, but it does not live up to the hyped-up title and introduction. ... Read more

3. Harry Houdini (DK Biography)
by Vicki Cobb
Paperback: 128 Pages (2005-08-01)
list price: US$5.99 -- used & new: US$2.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0756612454
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
DK¹s acclaimed DK Biography series tackles two of history¹s most colorful figures in Harry Houdini and Albert Einstein. Perfect for book reports or summer reading, the DK Biography series brings a new clarity and narrative voice to history¹s most colorful figures. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

4-0 out of 5 stars Harry Houdini the most famous magician in the world is profiled in another excellent DK Company biography for young readers
Harry Houdini was born on March 24, 1874 in Budapest Hungary to Samuel and his second wife Cecilia. Samuel was a rabbi who immigrated to America. Harry and his many brothers were raised in Appleton, Wisconsin where his father served for a short time as the rabbi of a Hebrew congregation. The family was poor but the children were loved and bright. One of Harry's brothers Leo became a doctor while another brother became a magician who learned tricks from Harry. Houdini's real name was Ehrich Weiss. The budding young magician changed his name to honor his memory of the great French magician Houdon.
Harry had little schooling but enjoyed study and learning all he could about becoming a magician. Houdini soon hit the dime theatre and vaudeville circuits. He met his wife Bess, who was a Roman Catholic, at Coney Island. Bess was a great wife who assisted Harry in his stage act. The couple were childless.
Houdini was a self promoter who always contacted the local press and police to witness his legendary escapes. He was often placed nude in a jail cell to emerge as a free minutes after he had been handcuffed and locked up! Houdin was an expert on locks, handcuffs and keys to enable him to escape. He traveled and lived in Europe starring in big shows in London, Paris, Rome and even in Russia.
Houdini was a good friend of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Their friendship was frayed when Houdini exposed charlatans conducting seances approved of by the creator of the Sherlock Holmes tales. Houdini demanded honesty in his professional deals never smoking or drinking. Though short he was a superbly muscled athlete.
Houdini starred in a few Hollywood films and continued to perform throughout most of his life. He died in 1926 due to a ruptured appendix. Houdini had a vast collection of magic books and knew thousands of tricks of his mysterious trade.
Vicki Cobb has written a fine book for young adults and teens as part of the DK Biography series. The book is lavishly illustrated with a text which might be enjoyed by both young and old readers. Recommended!

4-0 out of 5 stars Magic
I bought this book for my son's book report.He loved it.He liked learning about Harry Houdini and his tricks.He even gave it my younger son so they could talk about the neat things he could do.

3-0 out of 5 stars A good introduction
The book offers a useful visual timeline, but not much more. The facts are sketchy and the images are small, since the book is pocket sized. A good introduction to Houdini, but certainly not exhaustive.

5-0 out of 5 stars Harry Houdini
Harry Houdini was an amazing man.He did many tricks no one would dare to do. He would risk his life for the entertainment of others. In his lifetime, he performed many memorable magic tricks. He buried himself alive and survived. He dunked his whole body head first into a huge tankand survived. He asked the police to hand cuff him and without a key was able to remove the hand cuffs. He was able to escape from straight jackets. He earned the name, "The Great Houdini." He was afraid that he would not be remembered after his death.

One day after Harry's show at a university, a student came in and asked Harry if his stomach was as strong as he said it was. Harry, not paying attention, mumbled something. The student then gave 10 blows to Harry's stomach. Harry fainted. His appendix had ruptured. He was sent to the hospital. Ten days later he died of an infected appendix. He was only 52 years old.

Today, he still inspires many magicians, such as David Blaine. His message to everyone is that if you keep on trying and doing your personal best you will be rewarded at the end.

5-0 out of 5 stars The life of Harry Houdini, the world famous "master mystifier"
This DK Biography of Harry Houdini is described as "A photographic story of a life," but I can tell you up front that it is not a collection of photographs with captions but an illustrated biography that is comparable to other volumes put out by this company. That means you will find over 100 photographs, artwork and artifacts, including photograph of his famous escapes, posters from throughout his career, and a look at things like his collection of handcuffs. For somebody like me who knows most of what they know about Houdini from the movie with Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh (and whatever television documentaries I might stumble across from time to time), this book is quite educational. Vicki Cobb tells about the life of Harry Houdini so it reads like an American success story. Born Ehrich Weiss, the kid who will become Harry Houdini leaves home at the age of 12, gets bored working in a factory, and starts practicing coin trips in his spare time. Eventually the son of poor immigrants would be selling out the theaters of Europe as the greatest magician and escape artist in the world.

To set the stage for Houdini's life, Cobb begins with a prologue, "Failure Means a Drowning Death," that talks about his performance in St. Louis, Missouri, on January 27, 1908. Having escaped from the local police station the day before, Houdini performs his "Death-Defying Mystery: Escape from a galvanized iron can filled with water and secured by massive locks." By the time you get to the part where you wonder how he did it, Cobb has you interested in how Houdini became the greatest magician of all time. Then we get to the fact of his life, with the early chapter devoted to how the Weiss family came to America, what Show Business was like in the 1890s when Weiss got started, and how the young Houdini learned his trade as a magician and taking his name from Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin, his hero.

Cobb pays attention to how Houdini developed his career and you should pay attention to all of the posters that document his career: they start off with lots of text and hyperbole, but by the time he becomes famous as the "master mystifier" basically he just needed "HOUDINI" in large print. So Houdini goes from "Dime Museum Harry," to "The King of Handcuffs" and then the "Self-Liberator" who conquered Europe at the end of the century. Cobb highlights a quotation from Houdini: "The whole secret is getting the first hand free; after that it is all plain sailing." The glory days of Houdini cover him as a great self-promoter, but also pay attention to his family and his work as a scholar and author in the field of magic.

The final chapters looked at how Houdini started taking risks to come up with bigger thrills for his audiences by doing dangerous things like jumping into rivers and flying an airplane. This goes hand in hand with his great creativity (we get to the Water Torture Cell from the end of the movie "Houdini" at this point). The last stage of Houdini's career deals with not only his death defying feats, but also his debunking of mediums ("The Dead Don't Talk"), which became part of his legacy when he died on Halloween in 1926 from a ruptured appendix. Houdini had told his wife that if it were possible to speak to her from beyond the grave, he would do so, and for ten years his widow Bess attended seances on Halloween to hear the code they had agreed on as proof she was hearing from him. But it never came.

If you want to know how Houdini did it, then you will be happy to know several of his best-known tricks are explained (but not all of them) in this informative biography. Cobb emphasizes Houdini's showmanship as well as his creativity in being important to the act so young readers can better appreciate the career of somebody they will never see perform. The back of the book has a two-page timeline of key events in Houdini's life, a Bibliography of more than a dozen books, a Works Cited list, and six Webs ties that will provide more information about Houdini as well as a trio of documentaries about the master mystifier (he felt he was more than a magician and therefore favored this appellation). ... Read more

4. A Picture Book of Harry Houdini (Picture Book Biography)
by David A. Adler, Michael S. Adler
Paperback: 32 Pages (2010-07)
list price: US$6.95 -- used & new: US$4.60
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0823423026
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
Harry Houdini repeatedly amazed audiences around the globe with his death-defying acts and illusions. With his wife, Bess, often by his side, he freed himself from ropes, handcuffs, and prison cells. Though Harry was always intrigued by magic, his life was not always so glamorous. His family was extremely poor, and as a boy he shined shoes to help them make ends meet. Yet a career in magic was always in the cards. Readers will be mesmerized by this captivating picture book biography.  ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars If you are looking for a well-written biography to interest your budding magician, this is it!Can Harry escape yet again?
When the Weisz family emigrated from Budapest, Hungary to Appleton, Wisconsin in the late 1800s, their name was changed to Weiss.Times were tough and young Ehrich tried to help out the family finances by "selling newspapers and shining shoes."His father, Rabbi Weiss, taught Hebrew and money was very tight.Erich was a little worker and when he was nine he briefly worked in a "five-cent" circus and later, when he was eleven, got a job working with a locksmith.It wasn't long before he could open all the locks "without keys."Unbeknownst to him he was setting the stage for his future and his own name change.Harry Houdini, as Ehrich came to be known, would be one of the world's greatest "escape artists and magicians in history."

His passion for magic began when with simple card tricks, magic that doesn't thrill people, but when he "added escape tricks" he began to attract a lot of attention.Lock `em up!When he went to a new town he went to the jailhouse and requested he be securely locked into a cell.Nothing seemed to be able to hold him and small town newspaper stories hyped up the story and people began to flock to his shows.He defied anyone to keep him captive, but no one could.The escapes became more and more elaborate and extremely exciting.Harry soon became an international star.What heights would his tricks take him?Could he survive a bridge jump "locked in chains" or would he drown trying?

The age group that would be interested in this nicely written biography of Harry Houdini also seems to be fascinated with amateur magic tricks.Some of course are more interested in others, but if you've ever had a chance to take a youngster into a magic shop or watch the amazement on his or her face as they watch a magician, you'll understand the awe and amazement they feel.The storyline was very exciting and riveting at times.The artwork was superb, especially the depiction of Houdini in a jail cell.The numerous locks from head to toe and the self-assured look on his face says it all.If you are looking for a well-written biography to interest your budding magician, this is it! ... Read more

5. Harry Houdini (Campfire Graphic Novels)
by CEL Welsh
Paperback: 80 Pages (2010-07-27)
list price: US$9.99 -- used & new: US$5.76
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 9380028253
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Editorial Review

Product Description
This is the life story of Ehrich Weiss. If you don't recognize this man's name, that is because the world came to know him as the one and only Harry Houdini.

George Bernard Shaw once remarked that Harry Houdini is the third most famous name in history after Jesus Christ and Sherlock Holmes. While that might be a bold and debatable statement, there is no doubt that Houdini is the most famous magician to have ever lived. Almost a hundred years after his death, his name is still synonymous with death-defying stunts and unimaginable escapes.

His ability to get out of seemingly impossible situations, along with his knack of dealing with the public and the press, made him a legend in his own time. Some of his most notable escapes, which still cannot be explained, were the Mirror Handcuff Challenge, the Milk Can Escape, the Chinese Water Torture Cell and the Suspended Straitjacket Escape.

How did a poor, uneducated boy rise out of poverty and become the greatest illusionist of the 20th century? The story of Houdini's life is not only entertaining, but also educational. His struggles in life and his determination to succeed are a lesson to all. ... Read more

6. Houdini on Magic
by Harry Houdini
Paperback: 280 Pages (1953-06-01)
list price: US$12.95 -- used & new: US$7.49
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0486203840
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Written by the master magician himself, this fascinating work reveals the secrets behind how Houdini escaped numerous death-defying stunts and exposed a variety of fake spiritualists. He also gives instructions for eye-catching tricks, as well as other fascinating material. 155 illustrations.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Book for Every Magician, Professional and Amateur
It should go without saying that devotees of magic as a performing art will love this book. Even today, Harry Houdini (1874-1926), who came to fame during the Vaudeville era, is still regarded as the greatest magician of modern times. This book, published posthumously, is Houdini's personal account of his most famous escapes and feats. The secret workings of forty-four of his best stage tricks are revealed in this book.

More than a book of magic tricks, this volume gives Houdini's perspective on the history of magic and tells about Houdini's efforts to expose the fraud being perpetuated in his day by spiritualists and mediums.

From my point of view as an amateur magician, my favorite chapter is number 6, "Houdini on Tricks." In this chapter, Houdini tells how to perform what became my best-loved impromptu magic trick, the Four Coin Assembly. It is perfect for those occasions when someone asks you unexpectedly to do a trick. The props -- a handkerchief, four coins, and two postcards -- can be borrowed. No preparation is necessary. The magician spreads the handkerchief flat on the table. The four coins are laid on top of the four corners of the handkerchief. Postcards are used to cover two of the coins. One of the exposed coins is picked up by the fingers of the right hand, its corner of the handkerchief is raised by the left hand, the coin is slipped beneath the raised corner, fingers are snapped, the right hand is removed, shown empty, and then picks up a postcard to reveal a two-coin assembly. The postcard is returned to cover those two coins. The second coin still on display is picked up by the right hand, its corner of the handkerchief is raised, the coin is slipped beneath the raised corner, fingers are snapped, and again the right hand is removed, shown empty, picks up the postcard, and reveals a three-coin assembly. The postcard is laid back down on top of the three coins. Then, with a wave of the hand over the card shrouding one coin, followed by a wave of the hand above the card screening three coins, the first card is lifted to reveal handkerchief only and no coin. The second card is lifted to show all four coins assembled in one place. Yes, this Four Coin Assembly requires sleight-of-hand, but the level of difficulty is easy. With practice, you, too, can perform one of Harry Houdini's favorite close-up tricks.

About the Editors. (1) Walter B. Gibson (1897-1985), a professional magician and writer, was hand-picked by Harry Houdini, Howard Thurston, Harry Blackstone, and Joseph Dunninger to ghost-write several of their magic books and exposés. Gibson came to fame in his own right under the pen-name of Maxwell Grant as the creator of The Shadow during the golden age of radio. Gibson wrote 282 Shadow novels and more than 100 books on magic, psychic phenomena, true crime, mysteries, rope knots, yoga, hypnotism, and games. Under the pen-name of Andy Adams, Gibson authored several mystery adventure novels in the Biff Brewster juvenile series of the 1960s. (2) Morris N. Young (1909-2002) was an ophthalmologist whose life, it seems, was devoted to the letter "M." His life-long interests were Medicine, Magic, Mnemonics, Music, and Marriage. He lived in Manhattan. His parents named him Morris. He Majored in chemistry at MIT. He served in the Military during WWII, reconstructing the faces of wounded soldiers. He wrote books on Mentalism and Mindreading. He collected hymn books featuring Methodist songs. Dr. Young's wife, Chesley, insisted that the most important M in Dr. Young's life stood for their Magical Marriage of fifty-four years.

4-0 out of 5 stars Great for the bookcase
I would reccomend this buy for any magic enthusiast because it's history.No, it's not gone, but it contains the writings of Erich Weiss.I wouldn't say that I got a lot of trick ideas for my own act out of this book.However, it is just fascinating to read and to imagine Houdini as he created this compilation.

5-0 out of 5 stars A sneak peek into the mind of Houdini!
It's well-known among Houdini buffs that much of Houdini's writing was ghostwritten for him. So what? This was part of his role as a master publicist. Nevertheless, this book is a great insight into Houdini's mind and methods, because it's certain that he had at least a hand in the production of all of the material in this book. There is no single book that gives a greater insight into the scope of Houdini's interests than this one.

1-0 out of 5 stars Not by Harry houdini
I was disapointed in this book because there is only a few pages written by Harry Houdini. There was also added material that had nothing to do with Houdini.
Not Recomended

4-0 out of 5 stars Classic Magic Tricks
It is commonly said that you should never read a book on magic tricks unless you are willing to learn a trick and show it to your friends and not tell the secret.Disclaimers aside, this book has material useful for beginners, and for those who wish to make complex apparatus and only a few of the tricks might pose a risk to your life. The material on fraud commit by mediums is very interesting. It can further be said thatHoudini was a very good writer. ... Read more

7. Harry Houdini: Master Of Magic
by Robert Kraske
Paperback: 72 Pages (1989-05-01)
list price: US$4.99 -- used & new: US$0.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0590424025
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
A brief biography of Ehrich Weiss, who gained renown as Harry Houdini, master magician and escape artist. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

4-0 out of 5 stars This was a good book
It was a good book with lots of detail. Houdini escapes from a locked safe in London! He was the best magcian ever!!

4-0 out of 5 stars Master of Magic
Have you ever locked yourself up and then slipped out without the crowdknowing?In Harry Houdini, Master of Magic, the man is amazing; he doestricks and stuff you can't even imagine doing, such as stealing locks fromhis mother when she locks them up.At first the young Houdini is playingwith ropes, tieing himself up, and the next thing you know, he is lockinghimself up.My opinion about this book is that it's good.I have neverseen someone lock themselves up, then get out.I think everyone who likesto do tricks will like this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Book
If you have read the life story of Houdini and you think you know every thing about Houdini... Then you should read this one... Beacause this has alot of information. It does have images like posters and other. I thinkthis book is great... I've give it five stars ... Read more

8. The Houdini Box
by Brian Selznick
Hardcover: 80 Pages (2008-10-07)
list price: US$18.99 -- used & new: US$5.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1416968784
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description

Open this book and come face-to-face with the greatest magician of all time: Harry Houdini!

Victor is forever trying to escape from locked trunks, to walk through walls, and to perform any number of Houdini's astonishing magic tricks...without success. Then -- amazingly -- he meets his idol and begs Houdini to explain himself. A mysterious, locked box is the only answer, and Victor is left to wonder: Does the box contain the secrets of the most famous magic tricks ever performed?

From the creator of the Caldecott Medal-winning bestseller The Invention of Hugo Cabret comes this magical storybook that combines captivating mystery with mesmerizing historical fiction. Now, as a bonus at the end of the book, you will find a biographical note about Houdini, an illustrated magic trick, never-before-seen sketches by Brian Selznick, and more. The Houdini Box conjures up the pure pleasure of an old-time magic show. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

5-0 out of 5 stars No mystery this book is wonderful
I found this book since it appears in our fourth grade reading series.Most of my fourth graders love this story.They especially love to discuss Houdini and Magic.This is a wonderful piece of Historical Fiction for young readers.

5-0 out of 5 stars Litland.com loves Selznick! The Houdini Box
Quick to read and yet long in wonderment, Selznick's first authored book demonstrates his ability to make every story a silent picture show. Historical facts are so smoothly woven into the storyline it is difficult to determine the line where reality cross over into fantasy. Replications of posters, pictures and articles from the era mixed with Selznick's notable illustrations show us the emotions felt by Victor as he pursues his hero, Houdini.

This is an excellent book for the family to read together. Note it was originally written to the 9-12 year age group; the publisher recently listed it for 7-10 year olds, and Amazon has pushed that down to 4-8 year olds. No! Young kids reading this book should do so with their family to ensure they do not try some of the tricks on their own. See the full review at www.litland.com and our commentary at www.litlandcom.blogspot.com .Litland.com highly recommends this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great read!
This book combines facts with tale masterfully crafted by the author. Children will marvel as the pictures as well as what they learn from the story.

5-0 out of 5 stars My non-reader loved it!
My son is 9 and dislikes reading but he read this book in about a half hour and liked it!The Houdini Box has many pages with great pictures and also many pages with a few short paragraphs.A child who dislikes reading becomes overwhelmed when faced with page after page of WORDS and this was not like that. It kept him turning the pages!Also the story was interesting and to the point- no unnecessary babbling on and on to discourage a child with a short attention span.I thank the author for seeming to understand how to grab the attention of the tough to grab!

5-0 out of 5 stars Loved the book as a kid, love it now
I was read this book when I was in 2nd grade. I absolutely loved it and checked it out from the library repeatedly. Now that I'm about to become a mom, I wanted my little boy to have it. But, I couldn't remember the name, just that it was about Houdini and a little boy. After about 4 months of searching, I finally found what seemed like it was the right book on amazon. I wasn't positive, but I bought it anyway. When I got it, I was so happy. It's the exact book, and is still as entertaining today as it was when I was 8. ... Read more

9. Harry Houdini for Kids: His Life and Adventures with 21 Magic Tricks and Illusions (For Kids series)
by Laurie Carlson
Paperback: 144 Pages (2009-02-01)
list price: US$16.95 -- used & new: US$6.88
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1556527829
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Illusionist, escape artist, movie star, aviator, and spy—Harry Houdini was all these and an international celebrity and the world’s most famous magician. This fascinating biography looks at all the facets of Houdini’s amazing life and includes 21 magic tricks and illusions for a hands-on learning experience. Children will be inspired by this Jewish immigrant who grew up in poverty and, through perseverance and hard work, went on to become one of the most popular and successful entertainers of all time. Houdini was an artist who created his acts carefully, practicing them for years in some cases. He performed such seemingly impossible stunts as escaping several sets of handcuffs and ropes after jumping off a bridge into a flowing river.


Kids will learn how he devised his most legendary stunts and will also learn the science and logic behind many of Houdini’s acts including his famous milk can escape. Kids can amaze their family and friends with these simple, entertaining, and fun tricks and illusions:

  • Stepping through an index card
  • Performing an odd number trick
  • Making a coin appear
  • Mind reading with a secret code
  • Making a magic box
  • Lifting a person with one hand
  • Making a talking board
  • And much more
... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Great book
A great book of the artist's life and the time period that he lived in. Good for kids ages 10-15

5-0 out of 5 stars The Magic Revealed in this fascinating bio
Harry Houdini is famous for being an escape artist, plunging upside down into a glass box filled with water with his ankles shackled. But how many people know he got terribly seasick on the steamships that carried him over the ocean... or that he piloted the first real airplane flight in Australia, traveling there with his plane in pieces so that he could be the first on the only continent where it hadn't yet been done?

Born "Ehrich Weisz," Houdini experienced a rise to fame that in many ways resulted from the conditions of the era in which he lived. His creativity, perseverance, and resilience overcame any setbacks he faced because of his poor immigrant status during tumultuous political times.

This fabulous book, //Harry Houdini for Kids: His Life and Adventures with 21 Magic Tricks and Illusions// by Laurie Carlson, is not merely a biography, though it reveals the man's personal and professional aspirations and challenges. It is a history book, portraying with fascinating tales and sidebars life in America and Europe at the early part of the twentieth century. It is also a magic book, illustrating and describing how to do tricks that Houdini performed during his stage shows. A fascinating read for children of all ages, Carlson has captured the era and the magic of this historical figure.

Reviewed by
Robin Martin

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Book for Children!
I bought this book for my younger brother who is infatuated with magic tricks right now.

While he's still too young to appreciate the biographical information that comes with each individual trick, he worked through the majority of the tricks on his own (he's now eight). However, should this book intrigue you, please be aware that adult supervision will most definitely be needed as some of the tricks require chemicals/items that could hurt a child. The book comes filled with pages of Houdini performing the magic tricks that are given and even provides images of fliers/newspapers that were used to introduce the next stunt Houdini would try.

Children will love this book for the tricks while adults will appreciate the history behind the tricks. I was definitely amazed with this book but would like to note that some tricks can be complex-so the age range listed above (9-12) is pretty exact as to which audience this book will entertain. It makes the perfect gift and easily entertains young magicians!
... Read more

10. Harry Houdini (Kids Can Read)
by Elizabeth MacLeod
Paperback: 32 Pages (2009-08-01)
list price: US$3.95 -- used & new: US$2.20
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 155453299X
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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Meet Harry Houdini - the most famous magician of all time. Harry performed many daring and astounding tricks still talked about today, including dangerous underwater escapes. Harry started his life in poverty but as a child got his own trapeze and performed for the neighborhood kids, calling himself "Prince of the Air." He went on to become one of the most famous people in the world, performing in front of huge crowds and making six movies. With level-appropriate language and detailed illustrations, this level 3 first reader tells the story of Harry Houdini's magic. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

3-0 out of 5 stars MacLeod's writing is engaging
This is another great biography by Elizabeth MacLeod. For magic lovers, this book gives all the details and interesting facts of Houdini's life. MacLeod's writing is engaging and works wonderfully with the illustrations giving children a richly textured biography for their age-level.

A word of caution: The tricks depicted in this book are dangerous and parents need to discern whether or not their child will try to imitate Harry. Not for advanced younger readers without parental guidance. ... Read more

11. Harry Houdini
by Jane Piehl
 Hardcover: Pages (2009)

Asin: B003Q56YME
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (2)

4-0 out of 5 stars Harry Houdini
There are many books for young people about Houdini. However, in just 48 pages, this book gives a comprehensive look at the man's life, his achievements and the events for which he will be most remembered. It also includes colorful drawings and black and white photographs of him and his family. The book draws attention to special information about Houdini that appears in shaded boxes. This includes: how he initially learned to pick locks; the use of a cabinet to prevent others from learning how he did his tricks: names of copycat performers, and Houdini's "attempts to shut down their acts"; and how he reshaped truth into fiction that met his needs. For example, when he appeared in a photo together with Teddy Roosevelt and hundreds of other people, he had the picture retouched to give the impression that they were close friends. The result was that only the two of them remained in the photograph. At the end of the book, there is a timeline of the important milestones in his life as well as explanations of how he did some of his tricks. Sturdily bound, this book will perfect for report writing and Houdini fans. Ages 8-12. Reviewed by Marge Kaplan.

5-0 out of 5 stars A solid Houdini biography and learning tool
There are no shortage of Houdini biographies aimed at young readers. My bookshelf currently holds 50 different titles. 'Harry Houdini' by Janet Piehl is the latest, and it is a VERY fine biography in all respects.

First off, the book is well illustrated with a mix of photos and nice original color illustrations by Tad Butler. While there are no new photos here for the hardcore Houdini aficionado, the book does contain a rarely seen pic of Houdini controlling Margery in the Margery Box on page 38, which may be new to some. I also appreciated the photo of New York neck tie cutters in 1889, which gives a feel for the workspace Ehrich Weiss occupied as a teen.

The text is clearly written in simple fact-based sentences that appear to be tailored for reading out loud. The book handles the facts of Houdini's life responsibly and thoroughly. With the exception of saying the Brothers Houdini charmed snakes as part of their act (and maybe they did -- I've just never heard this before), I spotted no inaccuracies or, worse, Houdini mythology stated as fact, which is the scourge of so many Houdini biographies.

In fact, by putting in a sidebar the tale of Houdini's boyhood encounter with a convict while working for a locksmith, and clearly staying that it is "a story that is told," this little bio demonstrates greater responsibility than the newest adult Houdini biography (which plays very fast and loose with this tale). While the many apocryphal tales of Houdini are tempting -- especially when we're talking about tantalizing young readers -- Janet Piehl sticks with the facts. Bravo.

All in all, this is an excellent biography of Houdini and a first rate learning tool for young magic and reading enthusiasts. ... Read more

12. The Secrets of Houdini
by J. C. Cannell
Paperback: 279 Pages (1973-06-01)
list price: US$11.95 -- used & new: US$5.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0486229130
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Classic study exposing closely-kept professional secrets and revealing, in general terms, the whole art of stage magic. 98 illustrations.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (6)

3-0 out of 5 stars More magician instruction manual than enjoyable reading
This book basically shows the secrets behind Houdini's tricks.If you ever watched a special on TV about magician's tricks, then there's no surprise here.Not very entertaining; more along the lines of a "how to" book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great for a fan!
The contents of the book were wonderful for anyone who is interested in the magic of Houdini. The book was shipped on time and in excellent condition!

3-0 out of 5 stars The Secrets of Houdini
The Secrets of Houdini

I Read the book the Secrets of Houdini by J.C. Cannell. For the first twenty seven pages of the book it tells about how he as a child was able to pick the locks to the cupboards, and take out the cakes and other sweets that were hidden inside, then leave it locked and looking exactly the way it was before. The book talked about how he started with his best friend as the Houdini brothers (having taken the name from Houdini's favorite magician Robert Houdin). At no point did this book really grabbed my interest, but it did explain many of the incredible escapes of Houdini, and how he did them. I think one of the main reasons I did not very much enjoy this book is because when I read a Biography or an autobiography I am expecting that it will be facts and things that he did in his life, but around two hundred pages of this two hundred and seventy nine page book were his escapes, and the secrets of the mediums of Séance.
I was particularly shocked when I found out Ehrich Weiss (Houdini) was willing to tell all his secrets for twenty dollars once early in his career, but as there were no buyers he went on into his career where later they couldn't have been bought for one thousand times that amount. One of my particularly favorite escapes was his escape from a coffin. I liked it because everyone was looking for loose screws at the top of the coffin, when really he had lifted all but the bottom of the coffin up. Many of his escapes involved his masterful abilities as a lock picker (and being able to tamper with the machines before and after the performance). Houdini's career was nearly spotless of mistakes, except for two times in his entire life.

4-0 out of 5 stars Another one for the bookshelf
Cannell has a goldmine in between the front and the back of this book.It was informative to read on the many escapes that Houdini performed, the medium frauds that he devoted his life to busting, and other misc. tricks that it covers.

I reccomend this one for your magic collection.

5-0 out of 5 stars The best book about "how he did it". Not so about himself.
I am amazed that such a detailed and well written book came out so soon after Houdini's demise (the original text is dated 1931!), especially as it lists the inner working of dozens and dozens of tricks. They go from mentalism to table magic tricks, from seances to escapes, from large stage productions to the simplest rope trick - it would be difficult to find so much material within any contemporary book!

This is a very no-nonsense book, with only two minor negative aspects. First of all, it is somewhat light on the explanations of several tricks in the ending chapter, which is devoted to general (non Houdini-specific) stage magic, and I suppose dead wrong in a couple of instances.
Then, although it does not overly glamourize Houdini the magician, it is in fact very forgiving about Houdini the man. We know from many other sources that he was quite a difficult character (with himself as well with others), whereas here he comes off as a shining example of fun-loving gentleman.

And no, the Chinese Torture Water Cell is not described. But that Tony Curtis movie was very incorrect about it anyhow. ... Read more

13. The Life and Many Deaths of Harry Houdini
by Ruth Brandon
Paperback: 392 Pages (2003-10-21)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$4.61
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 081297042X
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
For many performers, stage life and real life are separate identities. For master illusionist Harry Houdini, the two were inextricably linked. In this widely acclaimed biography, Ruth Brandon shows how Houdini’s obsession with his own mortality drove him to create death-defying stunts that not only captivated the public but also subdued his own raging psychological demons.

As Brandon relates Houdini’s methods of escape, she asks: What was he trying to escape from? Her exploration of the psychic landscape of one of the most enduringly famous performers of the twentieth century makes for utterly fascinating reading. Brandon reveals much that is new: how Houdini invented a phantom son; why he wrote long daily letters to his wife, Bess, who lived one floor below him; his combative relations with mediums and spiritualists, including Arthur Conan Doyle; and the first full description of his fabled death. This definitive biography allows readers to peer into Houdini’s psyche and understand him more deeply than ever before. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (7)

2-0 out of 5 stars Not worth the trouble
As a previous reviewer stated, there are plenty of other good bios of Houdini. This one is full of psychobabble and reads like character assassination. All heroes have feet of clay, but her analysis is repetitive and makes the second half of the book deathly boring.

4-0 out of 5 stars A good book, but...
Overall, an enjoyable read, but I agree with prior reviewers -- too much Freudian analysis for my taste, and I don't care to hear the author's personal experiences.

5-0 out of 5 stars Strongly Suggested Book
This book is good. It has many interesting facts about Houdini. It explains his life and career. I strongly suggest it.

3-0 out of 5 stars Decent, but there are better
If you're planning on buying just one Houdini book, go with Kenneth Silverman.Although there are parts of Brandon's book which are excellent, I grew tired of her opinions and psycho-babble.Ultimately, I got thefeeling that the author simply didn't like Houdini.Perhaps I should havebeen warned when reading Brandon's bio: "She likes to think ofbiography as a framework within which to look at cultural history." Houdini was a complex person, to say the least.Personally, I'd rather bepresented with the facts so I could form my own opinion.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good but...
I've read every biography on Harry Houdini and this one is good...but it isn't the best. (The best is Ken Silverman's Houdini!The Career of Ehrich Weiss.) Here Ruth Brandon has mined information from older Houdini bios and created a skillful patchwork. Even her much publicized (and muchmaligned) "psycho-babble" comes right out of Bernard C. Meyer'sHoudini A Mind in Chains (1976). Indeed, this excellent long out-of-printbook seems to be Ms. Brandon's Deep Throat. Her chapter relating the eventsleading up to Houdini's death is taken almost paragraph for paragraph fromthe Meyer book. And do we really need to hear about the author's ownchildhood experiences with magic? Still, it's a good read, but for aserious and truly revealing Houdini bio, go with the Silverman book. ... Read more

14. Harry Houdini : Young Magician
by Kathryn Kilby Borland, Helen Ross Speicher
Paperback: 192 Pages (1991-04-30)
list price: US$5.99 -- used & new: US$1.05
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0689714769
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
A biography of Harry Houdini concentrating on his earlier years and the training that made him a master magician and escape artist. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

4-0 out of 5 stars Magic
My son wanted to do a book report about Harry Houdini, but he wasn't a big reader.He loved this book.It told all about him growing up and his family.

3-0 out of 5 stars Master of Magic
This is a book about Harry Houdini.Harry Houdini grew up with four brothers and one sister. He is famous for escaping safes, handcuffs and walking on tightropes.He was introduced to magic at the age of seven.On his journey Harrry Houdini became one of the most famous magicians in the world.
Houdini performed for more than one million people in his lifetime.After his greatest trick he passed away.
I do not think this was a good book because it did not have a lot of information about Harry Houdini.Also, it did not tell when or where Harry Houdini was born.There were some confusing words.I would recommend this book as a good story but not for school use.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good, yet sometimes confusing...
As most people know, Harry Houdini was one of the greatestmagicians and escape artists ever known.The author was pretty goodat telling his childhood story, yet sometimes it was confusing.Maybeit because I wasn't concentrating the whole time.Even though I didn't enjoy the whole book, I would still encourage people to read it. ... Read more

15. The Haunting of America: From the Salem Witch Trials to Harry Houdini
by Joel Martin, William J. Birnes
Paperback: 400 Pages (2009-09-15)
list price: US$14.99 -- used & new: US$4.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0765326183
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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In the tradition of their Haunting of the Presidents, national bestselling authors Joel Martin and William J. Birnes write The Haunting of America: From The Salem Witch Trials to Harry Houdini, the only book to tell the story of how paranormal events influenced and sometimes even drove political events.  In a narrative retelling of American history that begins with the Salem Witch Trials of the seventeenth century, Martin and Birnes unearth the roots of America's fascination with the ghosts, goblins, and demons that possess our imaginations and nightmares.  The authors examine the political history of the United States through the lens of the paranormal and investigate the spiritual events that inspired public policy: channelers and meduims who have advised presidents, UFOs that frightened the nation's military into launching nuclear bomber squadrons toward the Soviet Union, out-of-body experiencers deployed to gather sensitive intelligence on other countries, and even spirits summoned to communicate with living politicians.
The Haunting of America is a thrilling exploration of the often unexpected influences of the paranormal on science, medicine, law, government, the military, psychology, theology, death and dying, spirituality, and pop culture.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

4-0 out of 5 stars Interesting History Of Spiritualism
The title of this one can easily throw off a potential reader, which is a little irritating. There is nothing about hauntings in this book, as the title implies. Instead, the authors follow the history of spiritualism - psychics, mediums, etc. - throughout American history. We learn about the popular spiritualists of the day, their seances, etc. We also learn about a few popular politicians, such as Abraham Lincoln, who used mediums to help them make decisions.

The writing was easy to follow, though, for me, a little too rambling at times. The one huge problem I have with it is that the authors never once so much as mentioned Edgar Cayce. I don't know how anyone can write a book that supposedly encompasses spiritualism, yet not once bring up Edgar Cayce's name.

However, I did enjoy the chapter on women's role in spiritualism and its importance for the women's movement. The authors offered a unique perspective I have not seen in any other books.

5-0 out of 5 stars good stuff!
Still in the process of reading it but so far I am loving it. Very satisfied with the quality of this used book as well.

5-0 out of 5 stars Really enjoyable history of the supernatural in the US
I really enjoyed this book.

I will admit that it takes a while to get through the introduction which tries to sum up various notions of paranormal activity in the world prior to the settling of the US. it seemed a bit out of place and didn't tie too well into the meat of the book.

However, once you get through the introduction the book is an engrossing read. Each section of the book is more focused on a concept then a specific time period, which I tended to prefer as it allows the reader to see trends as opposed to getting caught up in time lines or having the narratives progression stopped because a notable figure must be addressed.

The book also, in my opinion, gives a fairly even handed account. It addresses what events happened and gives a voice to the skeptics at the time. If someone was debunked, the authors are nor afraid to say so. If the skeptics were unable to debunk it, you will learn that too.

All in all definitely worth a read if you're interested in the roots of Americas fascination with the paranormal.

4-0 out of 5 stars fun account
The authors take a close look at alleged haunting in America going from colonial times to 9/11.There is a myriad of claims over the three plus centuries as the writers describe what allegedly occurred with the emphasis on the paranormal aspects of an event.William J. Birnes and Joel Martin evaluate the possibility as to whether black magic was actually practiced just prior to the Salem witch trials anda couple of George Washington tales especially several sightings at Gettysburg and other battle sights.Other presidents also receive focus like Jackson who testified at the Bell Witch incident and Lincoln who supposedly dreamed of his assassination.Filled with charming fakes like Margaret "the big toe" Fix and hypnotic charmers like Franz Mesmer, THE HAUNTING OF AMERICA is a fascinating look at the alleged paranormal history of the country.The book includes Houdini, Doyle, Edison and Rhine as the para intertwines with the normal whether it is the Ford Theater, Valley Forge, the White House or even the early evolutionary leap of ultra adaptive Cro-Magnan and even more adaptive Homo sapiens, perhaps seeded from an ET visit.This is a fun account to read; just leave behind the skepticism as the entertaining tome lacks any.

Harriet Klausner
... Read more

16. Escape!: The Story of the Great Houdini
by Sid Fleischman
Hardcover: 224 Pages (2006-08-01)
list price: US$18.99 -- used & new: US$5.30
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B0013L4DBC
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Who was this man who could walk through brick walls and, with a snap of his fingers, vanish elephants? In these pages you will meet the astonishing Houdini—magician, ghost chaser, daredevil, pioneer aviator, and king of escape artists. No jail cell or straitjacket could hold him! He shucked off handcuffs as easily as gloves.

In this fresh, witty biography of the most famous bamboozler since Merlin, Sid Fleischman, a former professional magician, enriches his warm homage with insider information and unmaskings. Did Houdini really pick the jailhouse lock to let a fellow circus performer escape? Were his secrets really buried with him? Was he a bum magician, as some rivals claimed? How did he manage to be born in two cities, in two countries, on two continents at the same instant?

Here are the stories of how a knockabout kid named Ehrich Weiss, the son of an impoverished rabbi, presto-changoed himself into the legendary Harry Houdini. Here, too, are rare photographs never before seen by the general reader!

... Read more

Customer Reviews (16)

2-0 out of 5 stars Geared toward 10 year olds
This book is nothing more than a compilation of several other books, as noted in the book itself. It is an extremely easy read with good pictures, but lacks deatil on Houdini's life and is not very satisfying unless your a ten year old.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great insight into the Great Escape Artist
I have never been disappointed by a Sid Fleischman book and this one is no exception.The work is well-researched and the photos are phenomenal.My only heads up is that I did get this book for my almost 9 year old who is a great reader, but this was way over his head.I would say that as an independent read it is for tweens and up, however it made a great read-a-loud and vocabulary/history builder for him.Thank you Sid for another stellar piece of literature.

5-0 out of 5 stars An interesting read
This is a great young adult research book.The book is well written with a lot of interesting details.

4-0 out of 5 stars Drew Says Magical!!!
Can you believe it.Another Biography about the Great Houdini.Everyone hasn't heard of this man but if you read this book you will be amazed at what a great magician Mr. Harry Houdini was, and how people use his tricks to defy the sense of the human mind.This is a great book by the famous nonfiction author Sid Fleischman.Fleischmans use of word choice and detail is most appearing in this novel as it expresses the once great life of Harry Houdini.Houdini was the greatest magician of his times and is probably one of the most famous of our present time as well.With Harry's great tricks and enthusiasm and illumination of ones mind.There is an unsolved mystery of how his death defying stunts work like his ability of walking through walls, escape drowning, and his ability as well to escape and shatter iron chains that have been rapped around him.

Sid Fleischman also has a unique way of writing in this biography.It is a story that is basically told like a research paper without any sources. Sid Doesn't use first person but uses second and third person point of view to show and make you feel as f you were in the story and in the year of 1873 till his death in the early 1900's.SidFleischman has written a great biography while using the original biography that was written in 1928 by Herold Kellock.Sid Fleischman hasjust moderately took this model and made it his own and put it into his own.It is a great book about a great man that did great things.You won't know real magic until you read this book, and you defiantly will see what a great author Sid Fleischman is.

Harry Houdini is a amazing not only did he do things that couldn't be done but you won't believe how great he has mad e the world of magic become.This is a short read that is at an age level of nine-to twelve years old.It is a perfect book that allows readers to relate and figure out about history.I can't wait to see your comment on amazon because I know you want to read this book and I can't wait to see you opinion of this book as well.

2-0 out of 5 stars A difficult read
I bought this book for my son (age 9) who needed to read a biography for school.It is a very hard read for a 9 year old - I would recommend it for 12 and above.For example, it compares Houdini to "a modern day Pygmalion" - what 9 year old ( or even adult) knows what that means.It goes on to define it but it is still very hard for kids to understand.Again, good book but not for 3rd/4th or even 5th graders in my opinion. ... Read more

17. Houdini!!!: The Career of Ehrich Weiss
by Kenneth Silverman
Paperback: 544 Pages (1997-10)
list price: US$18.00 -- used & new: US$99.59
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 006092862X
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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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.Amazon.com Review
Silverman's engaging biography catalogs the life of Harry Houdini, bornEhrich Weiss, who made a career out of his capacity to amaze. Havingdeveloped conjuring skills and an ability to wriggle free of handcuffs, ropesand manacles, Houdini elaborated his tricks into theatrical set pieces thatmade him famous--stunts like escaping from a strait jacket while danglinghead down from a skyscraper, or from a wooden packing crate submerged inwater. Silverman's meticulously researched book reveals other sides to thegreat illusionist too. Houdini collected a library of books on magic, wrotebooks himself, exposed shyster psychics whose tricks he could easily match,and was a friend to JackLondon, SarahBernhardt and Sir Arthur ConanDoyle. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (10)

3-0 out of 5 stars conflict of interest
The author had a conflict of interest while writing this book.On the one hand, as a former magician, he didn't want to give away any trade "secrets."But as a writer he had the responsibility not to short-change the reader by omitting important details.I found the second half of the book that covered Houdini's bitter relationship with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and the exposing of fraudulant mediums much more interesting than the first half where Silverman "kept the secrets."How can the reader fully appreciate Houdini's performances if the preparations that went into them are omitted?Besides, there are few magic "secrets" left to be guarded as most have already been published--see Jim Steinmeyer's "Hiding the Elephant" for a recent example.I can understand Silverman's decision to abide by "the code," but it does detract from the book's appeal, hence only three stars.

4-0 out of 5 stars Houdini Escapes!!!
Silverman's biography on Mr Erich Weiss (Houdini), in my opinion, is the best out there on the bookshelf.It's a little long and dry
at parts, but it's packed with interesting information about a mystery man and the life he lived.It's a wonderful insight on his life and the time he lived in. Much recommended for the magic buff, historian, or inquiring mind.

3-0 out of 5 stars Informative - Yes.But, boring
I bought this book for my father, who is a huge magic-buff, and recalls hearing about Houdini while growing up.

Of course, I knew then that my father never reads books, and my hopes that he would break that pattern and read this one were lost.So, I took it home and read it. Er, read most of it.

I enjoyed the historical aspects of the story, but I couldn't get past the fact that the manner in which the book is written was less than enthralling. I just couldn't stay interested! I wanted to, I wanted to!!

If you're interested in learning about Houdini, I'd find something smaller to being your foray - like a three-fold brochure or something.

Houdini ROCKED! This book doesn't.

5-0 out of 5 stars Revisiting a Childhood Hero
From the time I could count my age on my fingers, Houdini fascinated me; I read everything regarding him that I could get my hands on. So I already knew a lot of what Silverman mentions in Houdini!!!

However, this book actually managed to surprise me. First of all, most of what I read from the ages of seven to fifteen were biographies written in the "Boy's Life" mode, heroic tales which read more like dime novels than actual biography. Not only does Silverman present an accurate, well-researched account of Houdini's life, he also accounts for many of the myths surrouding Houdini, even in some cases explaining how Houdini himself contributed to some of the confusion. Because the book is so even-handed, I walked away from the book still admiring my childhood hero.

Second, Silverman brings a magician's perspective to this biography. He describes at length the presentation and details of the effects that Houdini accomplished, such as the Metamorphoses, the Milk Can Escape, the Chinese Water Torture, and numerous jail and handcuff escapes. However, he does not "give away the store" by spilling the secrets to the man's life. Sure, some of Houdini's secrets are now known, others not, but Silverman refrains from writing a kiss-and-tell book, and I had to admire that.

Lastly, Silverman went a lot further than I've ever seen in describing both the man and his times. While I've known for years that Houdini lived in a very exciting time, Silverman portrays him as truly a man for his age. From Houdini's interactions with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Theodore Roosevelt, H.P. Lovecraft, Sarah Bernhardt, and Hollwood's silent film stars, to his involvement with aviation, spiritualism, movie making, and more, Silverman makes a case that Houdini brought together much of what first made the modern age modern.

Houdini!!! did not perpetuate the same tall tales that all the movies and Houdini himself put forwrd. Instead, this biography exposed Houdini for what he was--a physically accomplished, master showman, sometimes ego-driven, yet principled man who always struggled to accomplish more.

Given the wide array of misinformation that exists about Harry Houdini, this book outshines the rest. Quite enjoyable.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Best
I've read every biography on Harry Houdini and this is without question the best of the lot. Certainly it is the most comprehensive and professional. Silverman has not just recycled information gleaned from oldbios (as Ruth Brandon did in The Life & Many Deaths of Harry Houdini);he has done fresh research and has come up with amazing new facts andfacets of Houdini's career and character that have never appeared anywhereelse. I've read this book 3 times and each time I learn something new. Ifyou're looking for a Houdini biography, this is the one to buy. ... Read more

18. Spellbinder: The Life of Harry Houdini
by Tom Lalicki
Hardcover: 88 Pages (2000-05)
list price: US$19.95 -- used & new: US$68.09
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 082341499X
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars It was Great!
My son read this book and had this to say:
"I'm a fourth grader and I was reading this for a school project.I read the book because I had to write a biography.It was GREAT.All the stuff he did, it was just fantastic.It even tells what he was doing in his spare time, where he lived, who he cared for a lot, that sort of thing.And more than just magic feats.It was AWESOME. "

5-0 out of 5 stars Outstanding biography
Houdini is a fascinating character, and he really comes alive in SPELLBINDER. The book is extremely accessible, with tons of photos andlively, fresh writing. Houdini's life and times--everything from childlabor to the cataclysm that was World War I--are skillfully woven into thetext. One of the most interesting themes is how Houdini worked to debunkfraudulent mediums and other tricksters. Following the text are abibliography, a chronology, and an index, making the book an excellentresource for reports. But it is also just a great read. ... Read more

19. The Miracle Mongers, an Exposé
by Harry Houdini
Paperback: 74 Pages (2010-03-06)
list price: US$20.00 -- used & new: US$20.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1153711915
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Product Description
The book has no illustrations or index. Purchasers are entitled to a free trial membership in the General Books Club where they can select from more than a million books without charge. Subjects: Magic tricks; Magicians; Games / Magic; Juvenile Nonfiction / Games ... Read more

20. Final Seance: The Strange Friendship Between Houdini and Conan Doyle
by Massimo Polidoro
Hardcover: 264 Pages (2001-06)
list price: US$29.98 -- used & new: US$22.19
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1573928968
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Sir Arthur Conan Doyle believed with the utmost sincerity in the validity of Spiritualism and became one of its most fervent propagandists.Harry Houdini was a skeptic and became, in Conan Doyle's words, "the greatest medium-baiter of modern times."FINAL SEANCE is the fascinating story of their five-year friendship, years that were filled with exciting adventures, paranormal investigations, and confrontations among the "spirits." ... Read more

Customer Reviews (9)

3-0 out of 5 stars A Fascinating Subject, but Less Letter is Better
The friendship between Houdini and Conan Doyle was truly a strange one.The first man made his living at deception, yet spear-headed a crusade to unmask other deceivers.The second man is famous for the logical-minded, methodical, and observant character he created, but as for himself, he must have been the most gullible man alive. Conan Doyle actually believed that Houdini had the power to dematerialize and was even fooled by the rather infantile finger trick -- by which a person "disconnects" the forefinger up to the first joint.

Although the topic is fascinating, sadly, the letters of Houdini and Conan Doyle are tedious and wordy.I found myself endlessly skimming them in order to return to the next seance or the next significant event.

Still, I found all the accounts of mediums and their spiritualistic shenanigans mysterious, in spite of Houdini's repeated attempts to discredit them.Some of the explanations presented by the author Polidoro are so complicated and unwieldy, it would be easier to believe in the spirits!Is it really possible to swallow a roll of gauze and regurgitate it later as "ectoplasm?" Could a man really surgically alter his wife so that she could smuggle items into a seance? (Shudder.)

Worth reading for those fascinated with the topic (like me), but we could wish that the two principal subjects had been a little less tedious in their correspondence -- or that Polidoro had just summarized more often!

4-0 out of 5 stars The Skeptic vs. the Believer
Final Séance is a strange book about two strange individuals who strangely enough became involved in a strange friendship:

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - Creator of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, internationally known author and believer in Spiritualism, who chose to believe in more or less any medium he encountered, as long as the messages received confirmed his preconceived ideas.

Harry Houdini - The world's greatest escapologist, acclaimed magician and illusionist who never said his performances had anything but natural explanations, and over the years one of the foremost debunkers of many alleged occult matters.

Or in other words, the skeptic vs. the believer. Could these two gentlemen really be friends? Absolutely, and good ones, too. Massimo Polidoro of the Italian Committee for the Investigation of the Paranormal has written a book where he tells the stories of how they met, why they met, how their friendship evolved over the years yet ultimately came to a tragic end.

Their friendship was quite unorthodox: Doyle the believer in everything and Houdini the believer in nothing (though he said himself if was willing to believe were solid evidence ever to be shown to him). Fine, but is it interesting to read a book about a friendship, unusual as it may have been, and furthermore, a book that is mostly based on surviving letters between the two? For sure, because Final Séance is more than just a book about their friendship. It's actually a whole lot more.

First of all, it offers a good description of how Spiritualism evolved in Great Britain and North America at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. People everywhere became convinced that communication with the dead was indeed possible, and in dark rooms on both sides of the Atlantic different mediums claimed to be able to make contact with the ones who had passed on. The fact that mediums on a regularly basis were exposed as frauds never dampened the spirit (no pun intended), and that alone is an interesting cultural phenomenon well worth investigating.

Secondly, one cannot avoid being fascinated about the fact that two so very different people were able to ever be friends, when one of them believed wholeheartedly in what the other one rejected passionately. Humbleness and tolerance were the key ingredients, and the elegant use of the English language they both used in their letters truly is a joy to experience.

Furthermore, many of the ideas that evolved during these years are still with us today, and thus the book is useful to anyone interested in the historical background to what today is known as New Age.

However, the main focus is on the friendship, and because of this the book is merely complementary to the history of the New Age and the growth of Spiritualism. But if you're interested in reading about two fascinating human beings and at the same time have a reminder that different beliefs don't necessary equal discord, then Final Séance is well worth looking into.

5-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating book for more than just Houdini - Conan Doyle fans
I was so fascinated by this book that I read it in one evening.In a narrow sense, the topic is the discussion/debate between Houdini and Conan Doyle about spiritualism that first made them friends and then opponents. In a larger sense, I think that it has a great deal to say about the human mind and deserves a wide audience.It is an excellent example of how hard it is to consider objectively such subjects in which people invest so much emotion.Conan Doyle was so determined to believe that Houdini was a psychic that nothing Houdini said could deter him.

I have thought for a long time about the issue of trust and credibility.If I would believe someone if they told me that they just saw the bus go by, why don't I necessarily believe them if they tell me that they spoke to a spirit, or god, etc.As this book illustrates, these are issues which have historically involved some much delusion and deception that it is important to proceed with caution.(Of course, it would help if all prophets said the same thing.)I know that I will be thinking about it and quoting it to people for quite a while.

Polidoro is clearly on the side of the skeptics, and makes his affiliations clear up front.He remains, however, sympathetic to Conan Doyle and clearly admires the latter's kindness, intelligence and generally amiable and honorable character. Although he sides intellectually with Houdini, he doesn't attempt to cover his arrogance and boasting.

Recommended to everyone, except perhaps, convinced spiritualists, although even they might find it a useful cautionary tale, if not a convincing argument.

3-0 out of 5 stars Interesting but dry
This book was very interesting, but it made for dry reading. Certainly not a page-turner. If you can get through the first half of the book, it gets more interesting toward the end.

In addition, the author did not impress me as being an impartial source. It was clear that he agreed with Houdini from the start and he set out to make Conan Doyle look as ridiculous as possible. Perhaps Conan Doyle really was that foolish, but the author was too biased for me to take his word for it.

2-0 out of 5 stars Couldn't stay awake
It was written in the style of Dracula with alot of correspondence. The auther was also very biased towards Houdini. It was not very objective. ... Read more

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