- Hardcover: 480 pages
- Publisher: Harpercollins; 1st edition (September 1996)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0060169788
- ISBN-13: 978-0060169787
- Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 6.8 x 9.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 17 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #862,725 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Houdini!!!: The Career of Ehrich Weiss : American Self-Liberator, Europe's Eclipsing Sensation, World's Handcuff King & Prison Breaker Hardcover – September, 1996
"Ali: A Life" by Jonathan Eig
Ali: A Life is a story about race, about a brutal sport, and about a fascinating man who shook up the world. Learn more
Customers who bought this item also bought
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Silverman's engaging biography catalogs the life of Harry Houdini, born Ehrich Weiss, who made a career out of his capacity to amaze. Having developed conjuring skills and an ability to wriggle free of handcuffs, ropes and manacles, Houdini elaborated his tricks into theatrical set pieces that made him famous--stunts like escaping from a strait jacket while dangling head down from a skyscraper, or from a wooden packing crate submerged in water. Silverman's meticulously researched book reveals other sides to the great illusionist too. Houdini collected a library of books on magic, wrote books himself, exposed shyster psychics whose tricks he could easily match, and was a friend to Jack London, Sarah Bernhardt and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
From Publishers Weekly
This lively biography of the great magician and escape artist Harry Houdini (1874-1926) benefits from the erudition and enthusiasm of Silverman, who won a Pulitzer for his The Life and Times of Cotton Mather. Silverman's account provides more detail than previous biographies about Houdini's early years, showing how Ehrich Weiss, a scrappy Jewish kid from Wisconsin, endured a grueling apprenticeship in vaudeville as an acrobat, magician and medicine-show shill to become the most famous performer of his age. Because Houdini was a notoriously private man, Silverman focuses on the magician's life as a touring artist. Regrettably, Houdini's most famous feats?the Milk-Can Escape, the Manacled Bridge Jump, the Chinese Water Torture Cell?aren't as riveting to read about, no matter how well described, as they must have been to witness; moreover, Silverman, as a former professional magician, feels obligated not to reveal how they were done. The narrative picks up in later chapters, however, as it relates Houdini's campaign against fraudulent spiritualists. Here, the magicians' bond of secrecy doesn't apply, and Silverman's relating of how Houdini exposed the tricks of the medium's trade makes for hilarious reading. There's also a minor revelation in the book?Houdini's affair with Jack London's widow?and a fascinating account of his friendship and falling-out with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The biography finds its ultimate success, however, in its portrait of Houdini himself, as sentimental yet calculating, generous yet penny-pinching, goodhearted yet relentlessly self-promoting. It also excels in depicting an era in show business that at least equaled our own in shamelessness, raw energy and cheerful cynicism. The relative high price of the volume is likely due to the more than 100 b&w photos, not seen by PW. U.K., translation, first serial, dramatic rights: Hugh Rawson.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Browse award-winning titles. See more
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
However, this book actually managed to surprise me. First of all, most of what I read from the ages of seven to fifteen were biographies written in the "Boy's Life" mode, heroic tales which read more like dime novels than actual biography. Not only does Silverman present an accurate, well-researched account of Houdini's life, he also accounts for many of the myths surrouding Houdini, even in some cases explaining how Houdini himself contributed to some of the confusion. Because the book is so even-handed, I walked away from the book still admiring my childhood hero.
Second, Silverman brings a magician's perspective to this biography. He describes at length the presentation and details of the effects that Houdini accomplished, such as the Metamorphoses, the Milk Can Escape, the Chinese Water Torture, and numerous jail and handcuff escapes. However, he does not "give away the store" by spilling the secrets to the man's life. Sure, some of Houdini's secrets are now known, others not, but Silverman refrains from writing a kiss-and-tell book, and I had to admire that.
Lastly, Silverman went a lot further than I've ever seen in describing both the man and his times. While I've known for years that Houdini lived in a very exciting time, Silverman portrays him as truly a man for his age. From Houdini's interactions with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Theodore Roosevelt, H.P. Lovecraft, Sarah Bernhardt, and Hollwood's silent film stars, to his involvement with aviation, spiritualism, movie making, and more, Silverman makes a case that Houdini brought together much of what first made the modern age modern.
Houdini!!! did not perpetuate the same tall tales that all the movies and Houdini himself put forwrd. Instead, this biography exposed Houdini for what he was--a physically accomplished, master showman, sometimes ego-driven, yet principled man who always struggled to accomplish more.
Given the wide array of misinformation that exists about Harry Houdini, this book outshines the rest. Quite enjoyable.