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on November 11, 2008
If you could only buy one book on magic, this is the one. The price is a bargain for the information being provided. One of the many great features is a DVD which covers (i.e., presents & demonstrates) about a third of the effects addressed in the book. The quality of the book's language and photos is likewise outstanding. Joshua Jay can be proud of himself and his really wonderful book which is sure to become a classic in magic literature. He hits the nail on the head when he points out that people don't simply want to learn the secrets...but to learn how to perform the magic itself. I am trying to adopt many of the effects myself so I can share them with family and friends. The wonder of magic for me and many others is to allow ourselves to be children again...and Joshua Jay is helping many amateurs such as myself to share that joyful experience with others. Well done, young Mr. Jay!
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VINE VOICEon November 19, 2008
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
One doesn't judge a book like this by its style. This is too bad, really, because Jay's style is delightful. Nor does one judge it on the basis of such other "literary" criteria as humour, insight, or human interest, which is also unfortunate because, surprisingly, the book abounds in these as well. No, one buys a book like this for its ability to teach us, well, let's be frank, its ability to teach us how to make our friends look like idiots. (Sure, there are going to be some few who buy it to SERIOUSLY get a grounding in beginning magic, but, alas, they ARE few... and far between). Additionally, a large portion of the book's audience will probably be young people ("young" being in the eye of the beholder, but it has been my experience that we tend to lose either interest or simple dexterity as we age). So, the real tests of a book like this are: A) Are the tricks explained clearly and in an easily duplicable manner? B) Are there ENOUGH of them that DON'T require the hours of practice that any true afficianado of the art knows is necessary... but we really don't want to do? and C) Does it also contain a great DVD of over 2 hours in length that shows us how to do a lot of the tricks and, even if we don't want to do them ourselves, still is a heck of a lot of entertaining fun? The answer to all three of these is a resounding YES!!!!!! So, what are you waiting for? Buy this!
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VINE VOICEon November 22, 2008
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, in that it is a nicely illustrated, easy-to-follow collection of about 100 magic tricks (or if you prefer "effects" ) that includes instruction both on "how to do it" and also the "how to present it." The tricks are well chosen and include lots of different effects, including tricks at the table, the office, card tricks, tricks you can do with kids, etc.

The suggested presentations are fast moving and entertaining -- there are no tricks where spectator spends endless amounts of time counting cards, etc. The DVD is very helpful in terms of showing both how to set up or do the trick (what the sleight of hand or misdirection is) and also what the presentation is as seen by the audience. Joshua is a good magician (you can see him at work on YouTube) and I enjoyed seeing how he presented old favorites such as the "Out of this World" card trick (truly a great trick in which he has added a very simple bit of misdirection that covers the one clunky bit in the standard routine).

This is a great book that a child (say around 10 ) could use -- tricks are graded by difficulty -- or that an adult familiar with magic would find interesting.

My only (small) complaint about the book is its very short "references" section -- It seems to cite only a few books (and no DVDs) aimed at the specialist (e.g., the 8-volume Tarbell course). Of course, there really aren't that many good intermediate books out there, but I would have added Bill Tarr's sleight of hand books or maybe "The Amateur Magician's Handbook" (out of print I believe).

This is a great book though at a great price, especially with the addition of the DVD.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon November 19, 2008
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
THE BOOK

I have read many magic books but many books show WHAT is being done but not necessarily HOW to perform it. Joshua Jay is a masterful artist, performer and teacher. His talents are well beyond his years. This book covers tricks in various settings and with different props to include mealtime magic, magic out of ordinary things, magic with money, magic for kids, magic by kids, card tricks, magic in the office, magic for large audiences and even magic using the internet.

The book is well organized into major sections. Each trick is organized in a clear, concise and easy to follow format. A list of necessary materials, difficulty level of the trick, the effect of the trick, the secret of the trick and how to perform the trick step by step is outlined. Each section is well illustrated with high quality photography, easy to follow sequences and concise captions. One of my favorite sections of the book is a series of magic tricks that you can perform yourself and the estimated time of performance.

Throughout the book, there are inserts that cover interesting historical facts related to magic and legendary magicians. The book is entertaining, informative and a great resource on the subject. It is well organized that people of any age can perform many of these tricks.

THE VIDEO

An instructional 480p DVD includes a menu for watching magic, learning magic (27 tricks), extras that includes tricks with traditional magic props, and a special 5 minute clip on how to carry out your performance, "Talk Magic". The video is high quality, professionally produced and is worth the price of the book alone. The menus are easy to navigate, and you can watch all or just selected lessons.

Watching the videos shows his work in action. His ability to perform, communicate and demonstrate the lessons is excellent. Joshua Jay shows that he loves what he does and compels you to learn this art.

VERDICT

This is the definitive method, text, and system of learning the art of magic. Don't hesitate to get this book. It is the best in its class.

This would be a hard act to follow. Two thumbs up!

SHOPPING LIST:

There are items that the author lists to do some of the tricks. Here are just a few of them:

Folding Quarter - Magic Trick Prop

Folding Quarter Rubberbands - You need these rubber bands for refills for the Quarter, above.

Fantasma Toys Ultimate Magic Trick Three Deck Card Set

Bicycle Stripper Deck From US Playing Cards - The Magic Deck

Pro Brand Svengali Deck - Easy Magic Card Tricks

Reality Thumb Tip - Magic Trick Prop

10'' Linking Rings
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on October 28, 2010
This is a great place to start in magic. From the perspective of a full time professional magician who has performed over 2500 shows over the last ten years, I wish this book was around when I started. The material is very well presented and organized. This book is packed full of useful information and value. The DVD is a great complement to the book and is worth the asking price by itself. In an industry where the simplest secrets are jealously guarded, you now have a way in. Future books will be compared to this high standard that Mr Jay has set. Bravo!
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VINE VOICEon November 22, 2008
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Being an aspiring magician, I have seen many magic books.
Sadly, many of them have the same effects and advice.
Which is why I was pleasantly surprised to find that Magic, the Complete Course, holds many effects rarely found elsewhere.

While most magic books are choked by a ridiculous number of card tricks,
this one has a good variety of close up, stage, and parlor tricks.
So, it will be helpful to whatever kind of magic you generally perform.

The instructional DVD is helpful too.
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VINE VOICEon December 22, 2008
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
In reading this book, I was very quickly reminded of this very famous introduction:

"A magic trick is comprised of three parts, or acts ... The first part is called The Pledge. The Magician shows you something ordinary - a deck of cards, or a bird ... or a man.

He shows you this object and perhaps he asks you to inspect it, to see that it is indeed real, unaltered ... normal. But of course, it probably isn't.

The second act is called The Turn ... the Magician takes the ordinary something, and makes it do something extraordinary.

Now you're looking for the secret, but you won't find it. Because, of course, you're not really looking.

But you wouldn't clap yet, because making something disappear isn't enough, you have to bring it back.

That's why every magic trick has a third act. The hardest part ... the part they call ... The Prestige."
- Cutter (The Prestige - 2006)

...

I was fascinated to get this book and go through some of the primary tricks and develop a working repertoire of childish illusions to fool my toddler son, but what I learned is that magic ... like everything else, is difficult and requires a lot of work.

Knowing the secret of the trick doesn't immediately give you mastery over it, nor does a few executions of it, step-by-step. You really have to dedicate yourself in order to even be good at the simplest card trick. The tricks that require prestidigitation, or object manipulation, could take years of practice to develop into a skill worthy of showing others. Strong fingers and hands are an absolute must, and not necessarily the first thing that comes to mind when you embark on your magical journey.

Joshua Jay does an admirable job in trying to offer the studious a beginner's guide with a large bevy of different illusions to work with. For anyone that has ever seen Penn & Teller live, after all the hijinx and shenanigans, they really are masters, but finding a good instruction book by them isn't an easy thing at all. They do a very good job at keeping the secret arts, secret.

I really don't know why the tricks in the book were ordered the way they were, but some of them had me scratching my head. It's not until page 178 that you come across `palming' in a chapter devoted to tricks with currency. I guess that makes sense. But I think if you structuring a course, you might want to put all the elementary stuff up front, just as a way to telegraph to the audience that you understand how hard some of this stuff is to learn. In going through the book, structured this way, a question I had for the author repeatedly was: `What was the first lesson you learned and why isn't it the first lesson you're teaching me?"

So I stuck with it and after I spent about a week practicing the infamous coin palm trick, I got `decent' at my execution. I think there's a difference in `just fooling around' and seriously trying to fool someone, I was directing myself towards the latter and was willing to put in the time.

I then graduated to the Kid Conjuring Section and producing a gumball, which took an even greater amount of focus. I'm still working on the `endless gumballs from the mouth' routine and so I reckon by summer I might have it down pat.

But don't be discouraged by my review. The tricks are very carefully laid out and the DVD instruction is a giant plus and keeps your interest high whenever it begins to wane.

This is probably the best book of basic magic to come out in a long time and will sell quite a few copies as I can very easily seeing it becoming the standard text on magic in bookstores.

... ...
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VINE VOICEon November 22, 2008
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Having grown up with a father that does magic and performed some basic tricks myself, I was eager to check out this book and see what kind of information it offered. I was really pleasantly surprised by the quality of the material and how well it is presented. Beautiful color pictures illustrate all the tricks which include not just details on how the trick is done, but also how to present it. Information on basic magic techniques like palming are included and little sidebars with profiles of famous magicians or tidbits of magic history.

The DVD included is a great tool. There is nothing that can quite substitute for seeing a trick actually performed for an audience and many people as well will find it easier to learn the techniques as well seeing them demonstrated. I do have one gripe with the DVD, and that is the organization of it with the performance of the trick and the training for the trick separated such that if you are working from the book and want to pull up a specific trick on the DVD, you have to go back and forth to the menu in order to view both parts. It's kind of annoying.

Joshua Jay (the author) has a really excellent teaching style and his presentation of the tricks with the audience as well is low-key enough to work well for beginners. The book includes how you could arrange a short magic performance, and includes a short list of additional resources. It would be nice to see a more comprehensive list of good resources for more information. I'd also caution anyone learning magic from this book that you need to practice a fair amount before presenting the tricks for an audience. While some of these are fairly easy tricks to do, many will come off far better with some practice so that you look completely natural. Practicing in front of a mirror is often helpful as well.

I do have to add I didn't always agree with some of his comments about how bad some traditional magic tricks are. For instance, he starts off with a comment about the rabbit out of the hat trick and how every birthday party includes it, leading kids to think "magic sucks". Having parents that have done children's parties for over 25 years, which usually include a rabbit production, I can say unequivocally that there are few magic tricks that kids are more impressed with than seeing a live animal appear from nowhere. That rabbit appears and they just go nuts. Of course, there are many more modern rabbit productions and often ones geared specifically for kids with comedy aspects to them....but my mom still does a variation on a hat production that not only thrills the kids but always surprises the adults as well (and the clown for that matter...the kids just love that she doesn't notice the rabbit peeking out!) Likewise my dad does a linking ring routine that is just hysterical, as he seems to have no idea what is going on the whole time. The most important thing to remember with magic is that it is the presentation of a trick that matters most of all, and a truly talented magician can take just about any trick and make it special and memorable.
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on January 9, 2009
Wonderful book at a very reasonable price, with a DVD to boot!! The chapter on the 10 best card tricks is fantastic, including Out of This World and Do As I Do, two venerable classics. There are some thoughtful and original touches and embellishments to the tricks and routines which enhance presentation. Fun to read, and beautifully illustrated with color photographs. A perfect book for the magic novice, as well as someone like myself; magic's been my hobby for about 40 years. Absolutely recommended!!
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VINE VOICEon November 20, 2008
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a very well thought-out, well designed book for students of magic. The book alone would be worth the price, the DVD by itself would be worth the price, together with an Amazon discount they're a steal.

Is Joshua Jay soon to become a household name synonymous with magic? Time will tell. Reading the book, though, you can tell he's fascinated not only with the performance but also the theories, psychology, and history of magic. I've found a certain geekiness associated with magicians in general. It's not enough to be able to do a trick well, you have to be able to know and appreciate your fellow magicians who have and refined the art of magic to more than simple parlor tricks. You can tell Joshua Jay has tapped into this fascination as he sprinkles lots of history and credits the original inventors throughout the book.

So what are we getting here? The book is large and eye-catching. Aside from the low-light cover that makes him look a little freaky, it's very flashy with a nice sales pitch on the back and even a separate index of the 35 tricks included on the DVD. If I happened along this book in a brick-and-mortar store I would have purchased it on the spot. Inside you will find over 100 different tricks (he calls them "effects") along with a difficulty rating, and tips on performing them well. At the end of each effect he credits the best known inventor and sometimes showcases a "Modern Master" who uses the effect in his or her performances. They're broken down by subject, for instance card tricks, tricks for kids, or tricks you can perform in the office, and there's a handy guide to creating a complete show in the back. The book is chock-full of photographs (finally!) to help illustrate how to perform each effect well and it even has, to my knowledge, the first trick you can perform over the Internet.

The DVD is a mixed bag. It's put together well with a handy menu system that you can use to watch all the way through or each effect individually. Most involve him doing the effect on stage or in a restaurant or office setting, then explaining how the effect is done. I know due to time constraints he would have needed to release a box set of DVD's in order to show everything but the tricks he decided to single out are a little odd. For instance, he devotes a segment to showing how to roll a quarter across your knuckles. There's no magic involved, that's all you're doing (he even says it in the book). There are other points where the camera cuts away at the exact point you need to watch in order to see how the effect is performed successfully (see the Rings for instance). These are minor gripes, however, and he does a good job of showing some of the more difficult but necessary steps to perfect an illusion.

While it's advertised as a "complete course" it's really made for beginners. A few of the tricks are so basic most people could figure them out if they gave it some thought and a others such as the "card in bread" that are laughable in their preparation. There are plenty that will generate the "wow" factor you're looking for (I've always been partial to a good mindreading trick) and each is well illustrated in the book. The only way this could have been improved upon would have been if all the tricks were on DVD but it would cost you much more. Recommended.
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