The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America's First Superhero

The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America's First Superhero

by William Kalush, Larry Sloman
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The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America's First Superhero by William Kalush, Larry Sloman

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 best-selling 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.

After years of struggling on the dime museum circuit, Harry Houdini got a break that put him on the front page of a Chicago newspaper. He never looked back. Soon Houdini was performing for royalty, commanding vast sums, and exploring the new power of Hollywood to expand on his legend.

At a time when spy agencies frequently co-opted amateurs, Houdini went to London and developed a relationship with a man who would run MI-5. For the next several years, the world's most famous magician traveled to Germany and Russia and routinely reported his findings.

After World War I was successfully concluded, Houdini embarked on a battle of his own. He created a group of disguised field operatives to infiltrate the seamy world of fake spirit mediums. In doing so, Houdini triggered the wrath of fanatical Spiritualists, led by the esteemed British author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Death threats became an everyday occurrence, but the group would pose an even greater danger to Houdini's legacy.

Rigorously researched, and as exciting as a good thriller, The Secret Life of Houdini traces the arc of the master magician's life from desperate poverty to worldwide legend, initiating the reader along the way into the arcane world of professional magic. In this remarkable book, Kalush and Sloman decode a life based on deception, providing an intimate and riveting portrayal of Houdini, the man and the legend.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780743272070
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication date: 10/31/2006
Pages: 608
Product dimensions: 6.60(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.60(d)

About the Author

William Kalush has been a dedicated student of the art of magic for more than twenty-five years. Founder of the Conjuring Arts Research Center and publisher of Gibecière, an esteemed magic history journal, he has helped create several world-famous magic stunts and prime-time network television specials.

Larry “Ratso” Sloman is best known as Howard Stern’s collaborator on what were then the two fastest selling books in publishing history, Private Parts and Miss America. Sloman’s recent collaborations include Mysterious Stranger, with magician David Blaine, and Scar Tissue, the memoir of Red Hot Chili Peppers lead singer Anthony Kiedis—both books were New York Times bestsellers.

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Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America's First Superhero 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I saw another reviewer who said, "Who knew?" That was my reaction to this book. The writers did exhaustive research on Houdini and though the book is long, I could not put it down. Houdini was an amazing "magician" and an American patriot. There is so much about the man that has been hidden from the public. This is a great biographical work. I encourage anyone who enjoys reading about the topic of magic, historical figures, people who had an impact on the American experience to read this book. It's NOT your Tony Curtis version of Houdini! Well done! I got this book during the clearance sale for $3.99 but if I had run across it before it went on sale, it would have been worth list price.
MamaMitchell More than 1 year ago
This book was read in a documentary tone, painting the facts of a driven young man into a life-long passion to succeed. There was a great deal about Houdini that makes one think and wonder. I enjoyed this. Very informative.
DADATAMAN More than 1 year ago
This book was very informative on Houdini's personal life and public life. The book is written by two authors and this causes some inconsistencies in the chronological order of events. The book is loaded with photos thru out the chapters, which is a little relief from the long chapters.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ths is an amazing book! This is one of the best books I have read in years! I saw this book, for the first time, on the Howard Stern Show and thought I'd check it out. I was not disappointed!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Some parts almost read like an exciting adventure novel. Harry Houdini truly was a dynamic and interesting character who still lives on today. The only criticism I had was that I noticed in the first 100 pages or so that the authors jumped around a lot. But as you progress, the writing style becomes easier to comprehend. On another note, when reading the book, I also was able to really feel what the environment of the early 1900's was like. All together, an enjoyable and fascinating read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Kalush and Sloman have done the unthinkable. Eighty years (and countless bios)after Houdini's death, they have written the most compelling, comprehensive and entertaining book about the master magician. The amount of research is amazing, their theories on Houdini's escapes are fascinating, and the book reads like a thriller, especially when Sir Arthur Doyle and his fanatic Spiritualist followers come into the picture. I'm certain that the bombshell revelations in this book (Houdini as spy, Houdini in titantic struggle with Doyle's Spiritualists, Houdini's legacy (and widow!) co-opted by Doyle, will certainly shortly find their way to the silver screen. This is a must-read.
ScientistRT More than 1 year ago
Houdini was an American Icon. Houdini was a pioneer of heavier than air flight. He was an international ambassador. An immigrant who became a great American patriot. Houdini actually destroyed and virtually eliminated a major religion. Though he didn't live to see it's destruction. The authors put forth some evidence (Not conclusive) that those same religious zealots that may have murdered Houdini. One of the very best book I've read in my 50 years!!
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AuroraAnn More than 1 year ago
I found this to be quite an excellent read. The details revealed enlighten the reader to a side of Houdini that had never before been revealed. I found myself reading without wanting to stop.
JDSmith More than 1 year ago
This has got to be the best book on Houdini that ever was. It's a long book- small letters and thin pages that are so extensive. The authors really create the definative book on Harry. If he wasn't the greatest magician who ever lived, he at least set the standard over all else. The movie, while good and entertaining is pretty much a tease compared to this very accurate book.
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