The Secret Life of Houdini and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
Qty:1
  • List Price: $19.99
  • Save: $7.34 (37%)
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Only 13 left in stock (more on the way).
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com.
Gift-wrap available.
Add to Cart
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Used: Acceptable | Details
Condition: Used: Acceptable
Comment: Fast Shipping - Safe and Secure Bubble Mailer!
Add to Cart
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 2 images

The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America's First Superhero Paperback – October 2, 2007


See all 10 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Paperback
"Please retry"
$12.65
$6.49 $2.05


Frequently Bought Together

The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America's First Superhero + Houdini on Magic (Dover Magic Books)
Price for both: $24.38

Buy the selected items together
  • Houdini on Magic (Dover Magic Books) $11.73

NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

Hero Quick Promo
Browse in Books with Buzz and explore more details on selected titles, including the current pick, "The Good Girl" by Mary Kubica.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books; Reprint edition (October 2, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743272080
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743272087
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #150,202 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Kalush and Sloman appear to have raked through every known Houdini archive to produce the most comprehensive and controversial biography ever written about the man, with its contention that he was a spy who may have been murdered by a cult." -- Tony Barrell, London Sunday Times

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.

More About the Authors

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
5 star
43
4 star
25
3 star
9
2 star
3
1 star
0
See all 80 customer reviews
If you have an interest in Houdini but have never read a book on his life, I highly recommend this one.
True Crime Reader
I understand the frustration of some readers who complain that the book contains no notes or substantiation of the facts as presented.
Patrick Culliton
Highly recommend for fans of Houdini, those interested in magic and entertainment from the 19th and early 20th century.
Wayne Klein

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

71 of 74 people found the following review helpful By John Cox on November 26, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The "Houdini was a spy" aspect of this book - so hyped in the media and debated by magic historians - is a distraction from what should be seen, first and foremost, as a major new Houdini biography loaded with fascinating new facts about the great magician's life and career.

But what of this "spy" thing? Okay. Very quickly - in 1902/3 Houdini sent "reports" from Germany and Russia back to Superintendent Melville of Scotland Yard (who was then head of what could be considered British Intelligence). Does this mean Houdini was a spy, or just a letter writer who felt compelled to report what he was seeing to his friend in London? Authors Bill Kalush and Larry Sloman do make some interesting connections back to America and the shenanigans with Houdini's passport application...but it's all very speculative. For me, this "spy revelation" is just one of many, many new nuggets of information to be found within these fascinating 560 pages...and it's not even the most interesting nugget at that.

I was much more taken with the revelation of Bess Houdini's suicide attempt; a potential third Houdini mistress (Milla Barry); the attack on Houdini's brother in his Harlem home; the Russian Royal family's Rasputian-like fascination with the magician; Montraville M. Wood's involvement in the development of the Milk Can and USD; Lord Northcliff's role in Houdini's aviation career; Houdini's private secret service formed to expose spiritualists (Houdini actually bought a barbershop and trained an agent as a barber so they could communicate incognito); and the very troubling revelation that Margery and Dr. Crandon may have had a hand in the disappearance of several young English boys (freaky stuff this).
Read more ›
3 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
79 of 88 people found the following review helpful By Peter Thomas Senese - Author. on October 31, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This is simply put a remarkable and groundbreaking historical book on Harry Houdini: world renown magician, mischievous scoundrel, and clever spy. Reading like the best of intriguing novels, authors William Kalush and Larry Sloman have created a masterpiece worthy of every person's library in `The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America's First Superhero'.

This is one of the finest historical prose I have ever read. I can't recommend `The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America's First Superhero' enough. It will be `The' gift I give during the holiday season.

Why am I doing cartwheels?

First off, the extraordinary research put into this work was incredible. The execution and presentation of the material easy to understand and intriguing on its own, yet, the more fact presented, the more material I needed to have. Additionally, by collecting what I take was nearly everything ever written or presented previously on Houdini and viewing it carefully as a whole, Kalush and Sloman actually present to the public the full picture on Harry Houdini: Master of Deception! And what a life it was!

From a humble beginning in Chicago, to entertaining the most prominent individuals in society across the globe, to clearly participating in a spy network, to in his own way, being a pre-Nadar watchdog by going after con-artists pretending to be connected to the supernatural world, Harry Houdini's life was extraordinary . . . and so to was the footprint he made on society, as evident of his acclaim 90 years later. Was Houdini murdered by a cult? What was he getting close to? What threats did he hold?

Overall, this is a brilliant book, and I tip my hat to authors William Kalush and Larry Sloman: superior storytelling readers everywhere will enjoy.
2 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Patrick Culliton on December 13, 2006
Format: Hardcover
There have been a slew of biographies of Houdini from Harold Kellock's 1928 book that was written "from the documents and recollections of Beatrice Houdini" to this most recent one by magic authority Bill Kalush and "Reefer Madness" author Ratso Slocum. I have read them all and can say without reservation that this is my favorite.

I understand the frustration of some readers who complain that the book contains no notes or substantiation of the facts as presented. Like the biography "Houdini, the Career of Ehrich Weiss" by Kenneth Silverman, the research was so voluminous, the notes so extensive, that they require another book to contain them. I very much look forward to this forthcoming book of notes, but, the lack of footnoting in this book doesn't bother me. What was it John Barrymore said to describe his dislike of footnotes? (He felt that footnotes got in the way of a good read). I think he said, "It's like having to run downstairs to answer the doorbell on one's wedding night."

The research that the authors did in preparation for this book was simply enormous. When the book of notes comes out, that will become clear. Still, I commiserate with readers who would like the biography and the notes to be contained in a single volume but, believe me, that would be one thick book.

There are several examples of "invented" dialogue that has bothered some Houdini authorities. I can state that even these will have some substantiation in the mountain of documents that will be contained in the next volume.

I wonder how many of the "Houdini experts" who question the veracity of this book have ever heard of the Hungarian escape artist called Hanelo? Or one named Steen? Or Rex Palmer Gordon? Well, I hadn't until I read this book and this is Culliton speaking.
Read more ›
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Search

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?