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The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam: An Illustrated Memoir Paperback – September 4, 2007

5.0 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Fleming's great-grandfather, Long Tack Sam, began life in a nineteenth-century Chinese village and died more than 70 years later in Austria. In between, he performed as a world-class magician and lived for significant portions of time on every continent except Africa and Antarctica. Fleming herself, born a year after his death, invested time, money, and travel in exploring her great-grandfather's story or, more accurately, the versions of his biography provided by far-flung relatives, fellow magicians, and former neighbors. Presenting both her search and what she found in a pastiche of succinctly written narrative (lots of it), cartoon drawings, old handbills, clippings, and photos, Fleming successfully shows how dramatic the role of international politics in a particular person's life can be. In the case of Long Tack Sam, both world wars, U.S. and Canadian laws written to bar Chinese immigrants, and the rise and fall of vaudeville as popular entertainment shaped, shifted, colored, and textured daily existence. Fleming makes that kaleidoscope of influences accessible and virtually tangible, not only as they formed Long Tack Sam but also on her own essence. Very appealing for biography readers, twentieth-century world-history buffs, and comics enthusiasts alike. Goldsmith, Francisca

About the Author

Ann Marie Fleming is an award-winning independent filmmaker, writer and artist born in Okinawa, of Chinese and Australian parentage. Her films include the shorts "Blue Skies" and "Room 712", and the features, "The French Guy" and The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam".
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 170 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Books; 1st edition (September 4, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594482640
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594482649
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #26,496 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Jennifer Levy on September 6, 2007
Format: Paperback
I had seen Ann Marie Fleming's documentary film about her great-grandfather, Long Tack Sam, and was thrilled to see that she had also written a book about him. I was expecting the usual sort of biography, text with a couple of photo inserts. Instead, the book is a mix of text, cartoons, and photos, much in the same style as the movie. It's absolutely beautiful, and the period images (ads and posters, photos, etc) convey the style and feel of the vaudeville era which was Sam's heyday. I love to read about vaudeville but it's the images that bring those times to life for me, and this book does it wonderfully.
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Format: Paperback
I read this in one sitting! This was done in a journal/comic book format that was informative, fun, and made me feel that when I ended the book, I left with something special. Sam was a pioneer, and all the amazing people he met and worked with (Orson Wells, Laurel and Hardy to name a few), it's like the back of the book said, how come no one knows who this famous man is? His rufasal to compromise to the Chinese steriotype in order to enter Hollywood, and that his daughters were considered too pretty to be filmed as Asians for any Hollywood pictures , really reminds you that the 20th century really changed our views of the world and culture. This man went all over the world, married an Austrian lady, and go figure, had competition from white magicians dressing in Asian motifs and taking similar names to him! I can go on ad infinitium about how great this was, and how I came upon this by accident. I strongly recommend this book to not only magicians, but also to anyone looking for a fun and entertaining read.
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I loved everything about this book! The story, both of Long Tack Sam and his great-granddaughter's journey to learn about her ancestor, are amazing and riveting. The illustrations, photos, and newspaper clippings are perfect, as are the history, art, and show biz timelines along the side of the pages. A must-read!
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What can we possibly know about our ancestors? What evidence may we rely upon? Why do people have different recollections of the same events? In following Ann Marie Fleming's quest to know more about her great-granfather, we learn much about the process of history and detection and learn to question the family narratives that have been presented to us. A moving experience.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An insightful, delightful book. A very personal story that is bigger than it first appears and reminds us all we have stories
worth researching and remembering. The confusing, conflicting details of family memories are presented in a creative way
and the multiple perspectives are woven together with history, bystanders, Fleming and family in a compelling and funny presentation that wins you over only a few pages in.
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