Hiding the Elephant: How Magicians Invented the Impossible

Hiding the Elephant: How Magicians Invented the Impossible


Hiding the Elephant: How Magicians Invented the Impossible and Learned to Disappear [PDF] ✓ Hiding the Elephant: How Magicians Invented the Impossible and Learned to Disappear By Jim Steinmeyer – Capitalsoftworks.co.uk Now in paperback comes Jim Steinmeyer s astonishing chronicle of half a century of illusionary innovation, backstage chicanery, and keen competition within the world of magicians Lauded by today s fin Now in Elephant: How PDF ☆ paperback comes Jim Steinmeyer s astonishing chronicle of half a century of illusionary innovation, backstage chicanery, and keen competition within the world of magicians Lauded by today s finest magicians and critics, Hiding the Elephant is a cultural Hiding the PDF/EPUB or history of the efforts among legendary conjurers to make things materialize, levitate, and disappear Steinmeyer unveils the secrets and life stories of the fascinating personalities behind optical marvels such as floating ghosts interacting with live actors, disembodied heads, and vanishing ladies the Elephant: How eBook ✓ He demystifies Pepper s Ghost, Harry Kellar s Levitation of Princess Karnak, Charles Morritt s Disappearing Donkey, and Houdini s landmark vanishing of Jennie the elephant inThe dramatic mix of science and history, with revealing diagrams, photographs and magicians portraits by William Stout, provides a glimpse behind the curtain at the backstage story of magic.

    Load results Apple Footer Apple Support and Houdini s landmark vanishing of Jennie the elephant inThe dramatic mix of science and history, with revealing diagrams, photographs and magicians portraits by William Stout, provides a glimpse behind the curtain at the backstage story of magic."/>
  • Paperback
  • 392 pages
  • Hiding the Elephant: How Magicians Invented the Impossible and Learned to Disappear
  • Jim Steinmeyer
  • English
  • 09 November 2018
  • 0786714018

About the Author: Jim Steinmeyer

Jim Steinmeyer Elephant: How PDF ☆ was born and raised just outside of Chicago, Illinois, and graduated in from Loyola University of Chicago, with a major in communications He is literally the man behind the magicians having invented impossibilities for four Doug Henning Hiding the PDF/EPUB or television specials, six touring shows, two Henning Broadway shows, and numerous television and Las Vegas appearancesFor one of David Copperfield s television specials, Jim proposed the scenario and secret by which the Statue of Liberty could disappear Jim has also served the Elephant: How eBook ✓ as a consultant for Siegfried and Roy, David Copperfield and Lance Burton He developed magic for Orson Welles, Harry Blackstone, and the Pendragons and many, many others In addition to his books and many accomplishments on stage and screen, Jim currently holds four US patents in the field of illusion apparatus, and has also served as an expert witness in this fieldHe currently lives in Los Angeles, California with his wife Frankie Glass, an independent television producer who has worked extensively in Great Britain and the US.



10 thoughts on “Hiding the Elephant: How Magicians Invented the Impossible and Learned to Disappear

  1. Ross Blocher Ross Blocher says:

    If you have any interest in the secretive history of magic, this is your book Jim Steinmeyer is an ideally qualified author he is not only an historian of magic, but has professionally designed illusions for some of the top names in stage magic The list includes Doug Henning, Siegfried and Roy, David Copperfield and Lance Burton, among others Remember the disappearing Statue of Liberty Yep, that was his I d seen Steinmeyer perform at the Magic Castle a while back, where he resurrected some If you have any interest in the secretive history of magic, this is your book Jim Steinmeyer is an ideally qualified author he is not only an historian of magic, but has professionally designed illusions for some of the top names in stage magic The list includes Doug Henning, Siegfried and Roy, David Copperfield and Lance Burton, among others Remember the disappearing Statue of Liberty Yep, that was his I d seen Steinmeyer perform at the Magic Castle a while back, where he resurrected some illusions that hadn t been performed on stage for the better part of a century I wish I had read this book first I would have appreciated that performance all the .In Hiding the Elephant, Steinmeyer tells the stories of some pioneers of stage magic, and follows important illusions as they are invented, refined, patented, envied, passed on, sold, stolen, and copied Figures such as Robert Houdin, the Davenports, the Maskelynes, Devant, Kellar, Thurston and Houdini carefully built larger than life personas, but Steinmeyer humanizes them with behind the scenes stories of happy accidents, insecurities, rivalries, alliances, betrayals and successions.The book opens with the titular illusion Houdini at the Hippodrome making an elephant disappear on stage While no one had vanished an elephant before, and magicians remained uncertain of how it was accomplished for many decades after Houdini s death, it still did not manage to impress the audiences at the time We learn that Houdini s scrappy stylings were perfect for his escape routines, but didn t make for a compelling magic show Steinmeyer leaves that mystery hanging in the reader s mind while he jumps back in time to introduce some of the first vanishing tricks He builds concept upon concept, telling the story of individual magicians and illusions, until at the end he can confirm the solution to Houdini s disappearing elephant Another mystery is a disappearing donkey routine created by Charles Morritt one which stymied the author for many years before he gathered enough clues to solve it and perform it for the first time in a century.In addition to those tricks, Steinmeyer introduces and explores various vanishing tricks, the famous Pepper s Ghost illusion, spiritualist cabinets, automatons, levitations, the famed sawing a woman in half, along with a whole host of other popular stage tricks Some he explains, some he leaves a mystery It s often hard to picture some of the written descriptions, and the occasional diagrams are much appreciated It s just enough information to inspire you to see if not try magic, and yet not enough to spoil or expose most modern routines Hiding the Elephant deftly blends the history of magic s illusions, the history of the magicians who created them, and the methods and philosophy of magic itself

  2. Jake Cooper Jake Cooper says:

    A history of magic from 1850 1925, told by a modern magician Heavy on biography, but many sharp insights on the big questions of a small subculture When is deception in good faith Are secrets entertaining in themselves In the new millennium, do people even expect to understand how things work

  3. David Groves David Groves says:

    When I first started reading this book, I didn t quite know what it was trying to accomplish, but along the way, I enjoyed the ride I learned things about 19th century magicians, audiences, and entertainment trends When reading such a book, one is struck that 19th century audiences had no radio, TV, or movies, neither social media or computers, and because of that, there was a rabid hankering for vaudeville and live performance Today, we are so blase about seeing live performance We prefer s When I first started reading this book, I didn t quite know what it was trying to accomplish, but along the way, I enjoyed the ride I learned things about 19th century magicians, audiences, and entertainment trends When reading such a book, one is struck that 19th century audiences had no radio, TV, or movies, neither social media or computers, and because of that, there was a rabid hankering for vaudeville and live performance Today, we are so blase about seeing live performance We prefer sitting back in our living rooms in an easy chair and stopping and starting the video at our leisure.What Steinmeyer started out trying to explain is why Houdini received such a bad response to his Vanishing Elephant trick That s not exactly a great premise for a book Why was something boring But along the way, Steinmeyer explained the evolution of magic performance from Frenchman Robert Houdin in the early 19th century, to the Davenport Brothers, to Stephen Morritt, to the Maskelyne Family, to David Devant, to Thurston, and many others along the way Each had his own character and quirks.Additionally, Steinmeyer tracks the evolution of the large box tricks, from the original use of mirrors circa 1860, to boxes using mirrors that evolved all the way up to Houdini s elephant, explaining the phrase, It s all done with mirrors because in those days, it was Along the way, he gets lost in the weeds of explaining the tricks Often, his diagrams are inadequate and his explanations confusing about how the tricks work But perhaps that s how he likes it I ended up skipping much of those sections, because to understand it, you d have to go through it at a pace of 10 minutes per page, backtracking constantly Okay, if I ever need to build a mirror box, I ll know which book to consult The book is a quick read I would have preferred a book withinsightful revelations There is one, however Magicians guard an empty safe In fact, there are few secrets that they possess that are beyond the capacity of a high school science class, little technologycomplex than a rubber band, a square of mirrored glass, or a length of thread When an audience learns how it is done, they quickly dismiss the art Is that all there is The real art is how the rubber band is handled with the finesse of a jewel cutter, how a mirror is used or concealed precisely, how a masterful performer can hint at impossibilities that are consummated with only a piece of thread Magicians understand the careful interactions of secret and performance and have learned to appreciate the art for these subtleties But casual observers, eager to diagnose the gimmick or solve the deception, focus on the unintersting part and are quickly disappointed, the same way one can always turn to the final pages of a mystery novel pp 16 17 I wish there wereof that kind of material.One thing I realized, strangely, is the incompetence of Harry Houdini Apparently, Houdini s braggadoccio, swagger, and energy played well when performing feats such as challenge escapes, but didn t when performing magic In other words, his magic show kinda sucked He also didn t have the focus to perfect his sleights and blocking, the way a Thurston or a Devant did It s strange that, if you ask someone who the best magician of all time was, he ll say Houdini, when it s simply not true The hype prevails

  4. Becky Becky says:

    I thought this book was ambitious in scope, but ultimately failed to deliver This history of magic seemed to me littlethan a jumble of results from the author s no doubt extensive research and experience.The format is kind of a mess I got worried when I saw the little oval pictures and bio information of the various magicians listed in the front He s lumping a lot of basic info up front, in this cast of characters, I thought I bet the structure of this book is going to be all I thought this book was ambitious in scope, but ultimately failed to deliver This history of magic seemed to me littlethan a jumble of results from the author s no doubt extensive research and experience.The format is kind of a mess I got worried when I saw the little oval pictures and bio information of the various magicians listed in the front He s lumping a lot of basic info up front, in this cast of characters, I thought I bet the structure of this book is going to be all over the place This does not bode well Boy, was I right The chapters progress in no apparent order, and the titles and epigraphs can seem arbitrary A chapter that begins with the picture of Georges Melies, with a quotation from this pioneer of visual special effects, ends up not being about Melies A chapter titled Houdini opens with several pages about Charles Morritt The reason for this becomes clear later, but a reader would have been better served by just cutting to the chase.Speaking of Houdini, I m a big Houdini fan, and I was intrigued and amused by what a trouncing he takes in this book I knew he was regarded as a poor stage magician, but the extent to which he is reviled in this book was very interesting indeed I enjoyed reading about one of my idols from this very different point of view.But why on earth is the information about Houdini and nearly every other magician in the book spread across three chapters Not even consecutive chapters The structure of this book really is inscrutable, and all the little oval pictures in the world won t help that It s too bad, because the drawings of the magicians really are well done arresting in black and white.The writing was kind of a drag I m a fast reader, but it took me almost a month to get through this book, because I kept putting it down and having to force myself to pick it up again.As for the explanations of the tricks, I still don t understand anything I m not given to quick, intuitive understanding of mechanical things, and I believe a successful book that was going to expose the secrets of magical illusions would do so in a way that was accessible to any reader I have a feeling this book is for readers who are already somewhat in the know about stage magic The secrets of Morritt, Kellar, Maskelyne, Devant, and others are still safe with me I simply didn t understand any of them

  5. Will Chin Will Chin says:

    This dense book about the Golden Age of magic is no doubt the result of author Jim Steinmeyer s years exhaustive research Yet, it can at times read like a history textbook It is clear that Steinmeyer is not the greatest non fiction writer out there His chapters do not work like chapters should because they are not divided by topics of themes For example, for the chapter titled Houdini, we get eight pages I counted on Charles Morritt and his mirror illusions before Houdini even makes an app This dense book about the Golden Age of magic is no doubt the result of author Jim Steinmeyer s years exhaustive research Yet, it can at times read like a history textbook It is clear that Steinmeyer is not the greatest non fiction writer out there His chapters do not work like chapters should because they are not divided by topics of themes For example, for the chapter titled Houdini, we get eight pages I counted on Charles Morritt and his mirror illusions before Houdini even makes an appearance in the chapter You would think that a chapter titled Houdini would have a greater emphasis on the legendary escape artist but no The structure of the book, after the first four chapters, takes a rather messy turn Steinmeyer begins to jump around chronologically, bringing names into the narrative as and when he pleased It made for a heavy read that was hard to follow Otherwise, this is the all encompassing book about magic that fans should read It does provide interesting nuggets of information throughout, with explanations behind some of magic s biggest secrets hint mirrors Steinmeyer s explanations tend to go over my head sometimes, especially without the illustrations, but it works for the most part just a little tiresome towards the second half Yes, Steinmeyer, we get that Houdini wasn t that great a magician, and that certain magicians hated each other Let s move the story along I feel that someone like Erik Larson would have done a better job with the material Yet, since Steinmeyer s background is in the magic arena, I can think of no better candidate to write it Maybe he could have used a ghostwriter, or at least an editor, to smooth things out a bit A little disappointed, because I expectedfrom this book Then again, I don t think you can find a better researched book out there about magic and magicians

  6. Emily Emily says:

    Recommended for fans of Erik Larson s style, amateur magicians, and anyone who preferred David Copperfield remember him to David Blaine.A decent, if somewhat tangled, history of mostly American and English magicians of the later 1800s and earlier 1900s So many of the stories intertwine that I had some difficulty in keeping who s who straight, especially towards the end when Steinmeyer is wrapping up his loose threads and jumping around a bit in time That said, the personal background to the Recommended for fans of Erik Larson s style, amateur magicians, and anyone who preferred David Copperfield remember him to David Blaine.A decent, if somewhat tangled, history of mostly American and English magicians of the later 1800s and earlier 1900s So many of the stories intertwine that I had some difficulty in keeping who s who straight, especially towards the end when Steinmeyer is wrapping up his loose threads and jumping around a bit in time That said, the personal background to the names, rivalries and collaborations and an evolution of their careers adds to the enjoyment.The descriptions of illusions and tricks, however, are clear and well articulated throughout the book, but without giving away too much mystery Diagrams and recounts of his attempts to reconstruct illusions also helped me appreciate the painstaking nature of the work involved Though the book is titled Hiding the Elephant , Houdini is quickly defined as an escape artist rather than a magician And the real star trick seems to be Pepper s Ghost, which brings illusion intomainstream work It made me wish I d been able to see the great names of yesteryear, rather than Criss Angel as the big name in magic these days

  7. James James says:

    Like the magicians he chronicles, Steinmeyer provides the reader with both too much and too little detail to actually reproduce the illusions he describes I m not sure if this really matters, however, since I won t be making my own elephant disappear anytime soon.Interesting look at early 20th century magic Some of the concepts involved, mirrors, light tricks, trapdoors, are now hundreds of years old but to see them in the hands of a great magician would still make your jaw drop I d recommen Like the magicians he chronicles, Steinmeyer provides the reader with both too much and too little detail to actually reproduce the illusions he describes I m not sure if this really matters, however, since I won t be making my own elephant disappear anytime soon.Interesting look at early 20th century magic Some of the concepts involved, mirrors, light tricks, trapdoors, are now hundreds of years old but to see them in the hands of a great magician would still make your jaw drop I d recommend this book as the antidote for David Blaine It will make you long for the days when it was simply enough to make the Statue of Liberty disappear.The book is a history, and parts are dry In fact, there are times in the reading when you get the sense there will be a quiz of names at the end Not for everyone, but if you re one of those read only the first sentence of every paragraph types, it may be worth the effort

  8. Silent_count Silent_count says:

    If you re looking for a book on how to do magic tricks, there s plenty of those, but this isn t one of them Without wishing to diminish Mr Steinmeyer s work, I ll warn you up front that it s of almost no practical use if your interest is learning how to do magic tricks That s not to say however that it isn t an interesting and enjoyable read.This book covers the development of stage magic, primarily in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, and is particularly focused on the dominan If you re looking for a book on how to do magic tricks, there s plenty of those, but this isn t one of them Without wishing to diminish Mr Steinmeyer s work, I ll warn you up front that it s of almost no practical use if your interest is learning how to do magic tricks That s not to say however that it isn t an interesting and enjoyable read.This book covers the development of stage magic, primarily in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, and is particularly focused on the dominant magicians of the time It s both well researched and it is pleasant that the author does have a obviously genuine passion for the subject matter

  9. Clinton Clinton says:

    A really interesting look at the recent history of stage magicians The author uses each chapter to describe a certain magician s style and, in some cases, secrets One of thefascinating aspects is to consider how much mass entertainment has changed in the last 150 years Also interesting is how little it has changed people have been and still are taken in by scandalous performances and mysticism.My favorite part of the book was the technical description of how the tricks were performed, A really interesting look at the recent history of stage magicians The author uses each chapter to describe a certain magician s style and, in some cases, secrets One of thefascinating aspects is to consider how much mass entertainment has changed in the last 150 years Also interesting is how little it has changed people have been and still are taken in by scandalous performances and mysticism.My favorite part of the book was the technical description of how the tricks were performed, particularly the large, complex, Houdini style illusions

  10. Nicole Nicole says:

    Like a good magic trick, Steinmeyer s book lets you think you re in the know about some of the most famous stage illusions of all time without revealing any true secrets Steinmeyer creates a compelling readfascinating for its evocation of the great rivalries of the Golden Age of magic than for technical how to.

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10 thoughts on “Hiding the Elephant: How Magicians Invented the Impossible and Learned to Disappear

  1. Ross Blocher Ross Blocher says:

    If you have any interest in the secretive history of magic, this is your book Jim Steinmeyer is an ideally qualified author he is not only an historian of magic, but has professionally designed illusions for some of the top names in stage magic The list includes Doug Henning, Siegfried and Roy, David Copperfield and Lance Burton, among others Remember the disappearing Statue of Liberty Yep, that was his I d seen Steinmeyer perform at the Magic Castle a while back, where he resurrected some If you have any interest in the secretive history of magic, this is your book Jim Steinmeyer is an ideally qualified author he is not only an historian of magic, but has professionally designed illusions for some of the top names in stage magic The list includes Doug Henning, Siegfried and Roy, David Copperfield and Lance Burton, among others Remember the disappearing Statue of Liberty Yep, that was his I d seen Steinmeyer perform at the Magic Castle a while back, where he resurrected some illusions that hadn t been performed on stage for the better part of a century I wish I had read this book first I would have appreciated that performance all the .In Hiding the Elephant, Steinmeyer tells the stories of some pioneers of stage magic, and follows important illusions as they are invented, refined, patented, envied, passed on, sold, stolen, and copied Figures such as Robert Houdin, the Davenports, the Maskelynes, Devant, Kellar, Thurston and Houdini carefully built larger than life personas, but Steinmeyer humanizes them with behind the scenes stories of happy accidents, insecurities, rivalries, alliances, betrayals and successions.The book opens with the titular illusion Houdini at the Hippodrome making an elephant disappear on stage While no one had vanished an elephant before, and magicians remained uncertain of how it was accomplished for many decades after Houdini s death, it still did not manage to impress the audiences at the time We learn that Houdini s scrappy stylings were perfect for his escape routines, but didn t make for a compelling magic show Steinmeyer leaves that mystery hanging in the reader s mind while he jumps back in time to introduce some of the first vanishing tricks He builds concept upon concept, telling the story of individual magicians and illusions, until at the end he can confirm the solution to Houdini s disappearing elephant Another mystery is a disappearing donkey routine created by Charles Morritt one which stymied the author for many years before he gathered enough clues to solve it and perform it for the first time in a century.In addition to those tricks, Steinmeyer introduces and explores various vanishing tricks, the famous Pepper s Ghost illusion, spiritualist cabinets, automatons, levitations, the famed sawing a woman in half, along with a whole host of other popular stage tricks Some he explains, some he leaves a mystery It s often hard to picture some of the written descriptions, and the occasional diagrams are much appreciated It s just enough information to inspire you to see if not try magic, and yet not enough to spoil or expose most modern routines Hiding the Elephant deftly blends the history of magic s illusions, the history of the magicians who created them, and the methods and philosophy of magic itself

  2. Jake Cooper Jake Cooper says:

    A history of magic from 1850 1925, told by a modern magician Heavy on biography, but many sharp insights on the big questions of a small subculture When is deception in good faith Are secrets entertaining in themselves In the new millennium, do people even expect to understand how things work

  3. David Groves David Groves says:

    When I first started reading this book, I didn t quite know what it was trying to accomplish, but along the way, I enjoyed the ride I learned things about 19th century magicians, audiences, and entertainment trends When reading such a book, one is struck that 19th century audiences had no radio, TV, or movies, neither social media or computers, and because of that, there was a rabid hankering for vaudeville and live performance Today, we are so blase about seeing live performance We prefer s When I first started reading this book, I didn t quite know what it was trying to accomplish, but along the way, I enjoyed the ride I learned things about 19th century magicians, audiences, and entertainment trends When reading such a book, one is struck that 19th century audiences had no radio, TV, or movies, neither social media or computers, and because of that, there was a rabid hankering for vaudeville and live performance Today, we are so blase about seeing live performance We prefer sitting back in our living rooms in an easy chair and stopping and starting the video at our leisure.What Steinmeyer started out trying to explain is why Houdini received such a bad response to his Vanishing Elephant trick That s not exactly a great premise for a book Why was something boring But along the way, Steinmeyer explained the evolution of magic performance from Frenchman Robert Houdin in the early 19th century, to the Davenport Brothers, to Stephen Morritt, to the Maskelyne Family, to David Devant, to Thurston, and many others along the way Each had his own character and quirks.Additionally, Steinmeyer tracks the evolution of the large box tricks, from the original use of mirrors circa 1860, to boxes using mirrors that evolved all the way up to Houdini s elephant, explaining the phrase, It s all done with mirrors because in those days, it was Along the way, he gets lost in the weeds of explaining the tricks Often, his diagrams are inadequate and his explanations confusing about how the tricks work But perhaps that s how he likes it I ended up skipping much of those sections, because to understand it, you d have to go through it at a pace of 10 minutes per page, backtracking constantly Okay, if I ever need to build a mirror box, I ll know which book to consult The book is a quick read I would have preferred a book withinsightful revelations There is one, however Magicians guard an empty safe In fact, there are few secrets that they possess that are beyond the capacity of a high school science class, little technologycomplex than a rubber band, a square of mirrored glass, or a length of thread When an audience learns how it is done, they quickly dismiss the art Is that all there is The real art is how the rubber band is handled with the finesse of a jewel cutter, how a mirror is used or concealed precisely, how a masterful performer can hint at impossibilities that are consummated with only a piece of thread Magicians understand the careful interactions of secret and performance and have learned to appreciate the art for these subtleties But casual observers, eager to diagnose the gimmick or solve the deception, focus on the unintersting part and are quickly disappointed, the same way one can always turn to the final pages of a mystery novel pp 16 17 I wish there wereof that kind of material.One thing I realized, strangely, is the incompetence of Harry Houdini Apparently, Houdini s braggadoccio, swagger, and energy played well when performing feats such as challenge escapes, but didn t when performing magic In other words, his magic show kinda sucked He also didn t have the focus to perfect his sleights and blocking, the way a Thurston or a Devant did It s strange that, if you ask someone who the best magician of all time was, he ll say Houdini, when it s simply not true The hype prevails

  4. Becky Becky says:

    I thought this book was ambitious in scope, but ultimately failed to deliver This history of magic seemed to me littlethan a jumble of results from the author s no doubt extensive research and experience.The format is kind of a mess I got worried when I saw the little oval pictures and bio information of the various magicians listed in the front He s lumping a lot of basic info up front, in this cast of characters, I thought I bet the structure of this book is going to be all I thought this book was ambitious in scope, but ultimately failed to deliver This history of magic seemed to me littlethan a jumble of results from the author s no doubt extensive research and experience.The format is kind of a mess I got worried when I saw the little oval pictures and bio information of the various magicians listed in the front He s lumping a lot of basic info up front, in this cast of characters, I thought I bet the structure of this book is going to be all over the place This does not bode well Boy, was I right The chapters progress in no apparent order, and the titles and epigraphs can seem arbitrary A chapter that begins with the picture of Georges Melies, with a quotation from this pioneer of visual special effects, ends up not being about Melies A chapter titled Houdini opens with several pages about Charles Morritt The reason for this becomes clear later, but a reader would have been better served by just cutting to the chase.Speaking of Houdini, I m a big Houdini fan, and I was intrigued and amused by what a trouncing he takes in this book I knew he was regarded as a poor stage magician, but the extent to which he is reviled in this book was very interesting indeed I enjoyed reading about one of my idols from this very different point of view.But why on earth is the information about Houdini and nearly every other magician in the book spread across three chapters Not even consecutive chapters The structure of this book really is inscrutable, and all the little oval pictures in the world won t help that It s too bad, because the drawings of the magicians really are well done arresting in black and white.The writing was kind of a drag I m a fast reader, but it took me almost a month to get through this book, because I kept putting it down and having to force myself to pick it up again.As for the explanations of the tricks, I still don t understand anything I m not given to quick, intuitive understanding of mechanical things, and I believe a successful book that was going to expose the secrets of magical illusions would do so in a way that was accessible to any reader I have a feeling this book is for readers who are already somewhat in the know about stage magic The secrets of Morritt, Kellar, Maskelyne, Devant, and others are still safe with me I simply didn t understand any of them

  5. Will Chin Will Chin says:

    This dense book about the Golden Age of magic is no doubt the result of author Jim Steinmeyer s years exhaustive research Yet, it can at times read like a history textbook It is clear that Steinmeyer is not the greatest non fiction writer out there His chapters do not work like chapters should because they are not divided by topics of themes For example, for the chapter titled Houdini, we get eight pages I counted on Charles Morritt and his mirror illusions before Houdini even makes an app This dense book about the Golden Age of magic is no doubt the result of author Jim Steinmeyer s years exhaustive research Yet, it can at times read like a history textbook It is clear that Steinmeyer is not the greatest non fiction writer out there His chapters do not work like chapters should because they are not divided by topics of themes For example, for the chapter titled Houdini, we get eight pages I counted on Charles Morritt and his mirror illusions before Houdini even makes an appearance in the chapter You would think that a chapter titled Houdini would have a greater emphasis on the legendary escape artist but no The structure of the book, after the first four chapters, takes a rather messy turn Steinmeyer begins to jump around chronologically, bringing names into the narrative as and when he pleased It made for a heavy read that was hard to follow Otherwise, this is the all encompassing book about magic that fans should read It does provide interesting nuggets of information throughout, with explanations behind some of magic s biggest secrets hint mirrors Steinmeyer s explanations tend to go over my head sometimes, especially without the illustrations, but it works for the most part just a little tiresome towards the second half Yes, Steinmeyer, we get that Houdini wasn t that great a magician, and that certain magicians hated each other Let s move the story along I feel that someone like Erik Larson would have done a better job with the material Yet, since Steinmeyer s background is in the magic arena, I can think of no better candidate to write it Maybe he could have used a ghostwriter, or at least an editor, to smooth things out a bit A little disappointed, because I expectedfrom this book Then again, I don t think you can find a better researched book out there about magic and magicians

  6. Emily Emily says:

    Recommended for fans of Erik Larson s style, amateur magicians, and anyone who preferred David Copperfield remember him to David Blaine.A decent, if somewhat tangled, history of mostly American and English magicians of the later 1800s and earlier 1900s So many of the stories intertwine that I had some difficulty in keeping who s who straight, especially towards the end when Steinmeyer is wrapping up his loose threads and jumping around a bit in time That said, the personal background to the Recommended for fans of Erik Larson s style, amateur magicians, and anyone who preferred David Copperfield remember him to David Blaine.A decent, if somewhat tangled, history of mostly American and English magicians of the later 1800s and earlier 1900s So many of the stories intertwine that I had some difficulty in keeping who s who straight, especially towards the end when Steinmeyer is wrapping up his loose threads and jumping around a bit in time That said, the personal background to the names, rivalries and collaborations and an evolution of their careers adds to the enjoyment.The descriptions of illusions and tricks, however, are clear and well articulated throughout the book, but without giving away too much mystery Diagrams and recounts of his attempts to reconstruct illusions also helped me appreciate the painstaking nature of the work involved Though the book is titled Hiding the Elephant , Houdini is quickly defined as an escape artist rather than a magician And the real star trick seems to be Pepper s Ghost, which brings illusion intomainstream work It made me wish I d been able to see the great names of yesteryear, rather than Criss Angel as the big name in magic these days

  7. James James says:

    Like the magicians he chronicles, Steinmeyer provides the reader with both too much and too little detail to actually reproduce the illusions he describes I m not sure if this really matters, however, since I won t be making my own elephant disappear anytime soon.Interesting look at early 20th century magic Some of the concepts involved, mirrors, light tricks, trapdoors, are now hundreds of years old but to see them in the hands of a great magician would still make your jaw drop I d recommen Like the magicians he chronicles, Steinmeyer provides the reader with both too much and too little detail to actually reproduce the illusions he describes I m not sure if this really matters, however, since I won t be making my own elephant disappear anytime soon.Interesting look at early 20th century magic Some of the concepts involved, mirrors, light tricks, trapdoors, are now hundreds of years old but to see them in the hands of a great magician would still make your jaw drop I d recommend this book as the antidote for David Blaine It will make you long for the days when it was simply enough to make the Statue of Liberty disappear.The book is a history, and parts are dry In fact, there are times in the reading when you get the sense there will be a quiz of names at the end Not for everyone, but if you re one of those read only the first sentence of every paragraph types, it may be worth the effort

  8. Silent_count Silent_count says:

    If you re looking for a book on how to do magic tricks, there s plenty of those, but this isn t one of them Without wishing to diminish Mr Steinmeyer s work, I ll warn you up front that it s of almost no practical use if your interest is learning how to do magic tricks That s not to say however that it isn t an interesting and enjoyable read.This book covers the development of stage magic, primarily in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, and is particularly focused on the dominan If you re looking for a book on how to do magic tricks, there s plenty of those, but this isn t one of them Without wishing to diminish Mr Steinmeyer s work, I ll warn you up front that it s of almost no practical use if your interest is learning how to do magic tricks That s not to say however that it isn t an interesting and enjoyable read.This book covers the development of stage magic, primarily in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, and is particularly focused on the dominant magicians of the time It s both well researched and it is pleasant that the author does have a obviously genuine passion for the subject matter

  9. Clinton Clinton says:

    A really interesting look at the recent history of stage magicians The author uses each chapter to describe a certain magician s style and, in some cases, secrets One of thefascinating aspects is to consider how much mass entertainment has changed in the last 150 years Also interesting is how little it has changed people have been and still are taken in by scandalous performances and mysticism.My favorite part of the book was the technical description of how the tricks were performed, A really interesting look at the recent history of stage magicians The author uses each chapter to describe a certain magician s style and, in some cases, secrets One of thefascinating aspects is to consider how much mass entertainment has changed in the last 150 years Also interesting is how little it has changed people have been and still are taken in by scandalous performances and mysticism.My favorite part of the book was the technical description of how the tricks were performed, particularly the large, complex, Houdini style illusions

  10. Nicole Nicole says:

    Like a good magic trick, Steinmeyer s book lets you think you re in the know about some of the most famous stage illusions of all time without revealing any true secrets Steinmeyer creates a compelling readfascinating for its evocation of the great rivalries of the Golden Age of magic than for technical how to.

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