Magic Is Dead: My Journey into the World's Most Secretive Society of Magicians

Magic Is Dead: My Journey into the World's Most Secretive Society of Magicians

by Ian Frisch


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In the vein of Neil Strauss’ The Game and Joshua Foer’s Moonwalking with Einstein comes the fascinating story of one man’s colorful, mysterious, and personal journey into the world of magic, and his unlikely invitation into a secret underground society of revolutionary illusionists from around the world.

Magic Is Dead is Ian Frisch’s head-first dive into a hidden world full of extraordinary characters and highly guarded secrets. It is a story of imagination, deception, and art that spotlights today’s most brilliant young magicians—a mysterious society known as the52, who are revolutionizing an ancient artform under the mantra Magic Is Dead.

Ian brings us with him as he not only gets to know this fascinating world, but also becomes an integral part of it. We meet the52’s founding members—Chris Ramsay, Laura London, and Daniel Madison—and explore their personal demons, professional aspirations, and what drew them to their art. We join them at private gatherings of the most extraordinary magicians working today, follow them to magic conventions in Las Vegas and London, and discover some of the best tricks of the trade. We also encounter David Blaine, a close friend of Madison’s; hang out with Penn Jillette; and meet Dynamo, the U.K.’s most famous magician. Magic Is Dead is also a chronicle of magic’s rich history and how it has changed in the internet age, as the young guns moves away from the old-school take on the craft.

As he tells the story of the52, and his role as its most unlikely member, Ian reveals his own connection with trickery and deceit, how he first learned the elements that make magic work from his poker-playing mother, and recalls their adventures in card rooms and casinos after his father’s sudden death. “Magic—the romanticism of the inexplicable, the awe and admiration of the unexpected—is an underlying force in how we view the world and its myriad possibilities,” Ian writes. As his journey continues, Ian not only becomes a performer and creator of magic, he also cements a new brotherhood, and begins to understand his relationship with his father, fifteen years after his death. Written with psychological acuity and a keen eye for detail, Magic Is Dead is an engrossing tale full of wonder and surprise.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062839282
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 02/26/2019
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 98,324
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Ian Frisch has written for The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Washington Post Magazine, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Playboy, Wired, and Vice. He has appeared on Bloomberg Television and speaks regularly at universities both about writing and entrepreneurship, and was a finalist for the 2016 Associated Press Sports Editors Explanatory Award. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Table of Contents

Author's Note xi

Prologue: This Is Me Now 1

Part I Welcome To The Underground

1 A Way of Life 7

2 Blackpool Problems 17

3 Magic Is Dead 33

4 Locked In 41

5 A Break from Reality 51

6 A Vessel for Something Bigger 63

7 Cheat 71

8 Happy Pilgrims 83

9 An Actor Playing the Part of a Magician 91

10 The Rules of the Game 107

11 Cardsharps 117

12 At the Table 137

13 The Two of Clubs 143

Part II Every Once In A While, The Lion Has To Show The Jackal Who He Is

14 Young Bloods 159

15 Just a Simple Plan 173

16 Spies, Snitches, Skullduggery, and Scheming 187

17 By Any Means Necessary 203

18 Origins 213

19 Not Just a Female Magician 229

20 Fooling Bourdain 247

21 Behind the Scenes 263

22 Flipside 283

23 Kill the Architect 299

Acknowledgments 317

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