February 17, 2017

The magic business

Hiding the Elephant: How Magicians Invented the Impossible and Learned to Disappear
by Jim Steinmeyer

Steinmeyer's book summarizes the history of magic during the 1910s to 1930s in exhaustive detail. His cast of magicians - mainly from Britain, France, and the United States, and exclusively male - resort to tricks and subterfuge not only in beguiling audiences but in fierce rivalry between each other. Their soap-opera-like antics are more tedious than intriguing, as are the many pages devoted to the physics of mirrors and wires and stage configurations.

Readers with only a passing interest in magic should avoid this book, unless they need help getting to sleep. The book seems more geared to business students, physicists, and engineers, or those who really want to know how magicians perform their stunts.

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