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Book Club: “The Last Greatest Magician in the World: Howard Thurston versus Houdini & the Battles of the American Wizards” by Jim Steinmeyer

Posted on : 01-07-2012 | By : John | In : Book Club

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7/6: See UPDATE below.

Our month of midsummer magic continues with the book with the longest title in Book Club history: “The Last Greatest Magician in the World: Howard Thurston versus Houdini & the Battles of the American Wizards” by Jim Steinmeyer.

Thurston poster holding Yorrick's skull, surrounded by Cotswald fairies

Proof that A. Conan Doyle was right!

Howard Thurston was the most prominent stage magician of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, much more popular than Houdini. He ran away to the circus as a child and soon started up a close-up magic act doing card tricks. At the peak of his career, he required an 8-car railroad train to move his show from city to city. He must have invented feature creep.

Jim Steinmeyer is a magician, a designer of magical tricks, a former imagineer for Walt Disney (possibly the best.job.ever) and the author of many books on magical practice and history. A real life Professor Cuthbert Binns, except he’s not a ghost and not at all boring. I’ve only read the 1st couple of chapters so far, but the book seems highly readable and Steinmeyer does a good job of transporting us to a time and place beyond our personal experiences. This book promises to be interesting and enjoyable.

We will be meeting at our usual time and place, on July 28 at 3 PM in the Northwest Science Building at Harvard. (We might move outside if the weather is nice, but our usual spot between the Science Center and Memorial Hall, in the shade of the huge green pepper, is currently a construction site. Stay tuned for updates.)

You can RSVP on Facebook if you are a member of the Boston Skeptics Facebook group (or maybe even if you are not, I’m not sure how this works, and they keep changing it, so there is no point in learning</end rant>.)

UPDATE:

Just a reminder that if you can’t make it to Book Club, you can still read the book and discuss it the next day on Skepchick, where Mary’s always wonderful summary and notes and recipe will appear.