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The last greatest magician in the world : Howard Thurston versus Houdini & the b
Steinmeyer, Jim.
Adult Nonfiction GV1545.T5 S74 2011

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Expanding on his chapters on Howard Thurston in his history of magic, Hiding the Elephant, Steinmeyer produces an engaging full-length biography of the man Orson Welles called "the master." While Houdini's daring stunts were legendary, Steinmeyer says Thurston was the public's favorite, captivating audiences with his "self-assured grandeur." Hailing from Columbus, Ohio, Thurston gained fame in the early part of the 20th century with his "Rising Card Trick," in which he levitated cards named by audience members. He successfully changed with the times, going from street performances to wagon tours through the West. He then became a top vaudeville star, but wisely left the vaudeville circuit to produce more ambitious spectacles involving 40 tons of magic apparatus and colorful costumes, a variety of animals, and more than two dozen assistants. Tracing the magician's rise to fame, this volume neatly juggles his marriages and his magic with his triumphs, travails, showmanship, and marketing ballyhoo ("The Wonder Show of the Universe"). Steinmeyer recovers, from the shadows of his greatest rival, a figure whose grandiose productions were an American institution for almost 30 years. (Feb. 3) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

From Library Journal:

In the early 1900s, America was entertained by carnivals, circuses, and traveling magic shows. Top magicians of the time were Harry Kellar, Paul Valadon, Harry Houdini, and Howard Thurston. Steinmeyer (Charles Fort: The Man Who Invented the Supernatural), a professional magic illusion designer, has written an entertaining account of Thurston's life and work. Thurston began his career after running away from home, riding the rails, working as a carnival con man, then becoming a card manipulator and magician. Thurston dreamed of having his own magic show. He toured Europe, Asia, and Australia, and when his mentor, Kellar, retired, Thurston bought him out and was billed as the Greatest American Magician. The need for bigger and better illusions created financial and marital problems, and his rivalry with Houdini became more obvious with Houdini's success. VERDICT Steinmeyer's in-depth research and knowledge of magic along with colorful characters, schemes, and magic espionage come together in a fast-paced, excellent read. Highly recommended for all readers.-Rosalind Dayen, South Regional Lib., Broward Cty., FL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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