The life and afterlife of Harry Houdini / Joe Posnanski

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  • Additional Information
    • Publication Information:
      First Avid Reader Press hardcover edition.
    • Abstract:
      Summary: Harry Houdini. Say his name and a number of things come to mind. Escapes. Illusions. Magic. Chains. Safes. Live burials. Close to a century after his death, nearly every person in America knows his name from a young age, capturing their imaginations with his death-defying stunts and daring acts. He inspired countless people, from all walks of life, to find something magical within themselves. This is a book about a man and his extraordinary life, but it is also about the people who he has inspired in death. As Joe Posnanski delves into the deepest corners of Houdini-land, visiting museums (one owned by David Copperfield), attractions, and private archives, he encounters a cast of unforgettable and fascinating characters: a woman who runs away from home to chase her dream of becoming a magician; an Italian who revives Houdini's most famous illusion every night; a performer at the Magic Castle in Los Angeles who calls himself Houdini's Ghost; a young boy in Australia who, one day, sees an old poster and feels his life change; and a man in Los Angeles whose sole mission is life has been to keep the legend's name alive. Both a personal obsession and an odyssey of discovery, Posnanski draws inspiration from his lifelong passion for and obsession with magic, blending biography, memoir, and first-person reporting to examine Harry Houdini's life and legacy. This is the ultimate journey to uncover why this magic man endures, and what he still has to teach the world about wonder.
    • ISBN:
      9781501137235
      1501137239
    • Accession Number:
      on1022616600
      1022616600
    • Accession Number:
      fay.670883
  • Citations
    • ABNT:
      POSNANSKI, J. The life and afterlife of Harry Houdini. [s. l.]: Avid Reader Press, 2019. ISBN 9781501137235. Disponível em: http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=cat05595a&AN=fay.670883. Acesso em: 5 dez. 2019.
    • AMA:
      Posnanski J. The Life and Afterlife of Harry Houdini. Avid Reader Press; 2019. http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=cat05595a&AN=fay.670883. Accessed December 5, 2019.
    • APA:
      Posnanski, J. (2019). The life and afterlife of Harry Houdini. Avid Reader Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=cat05595a&AN=fay.670883
    • Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date:
      Posnanski, Joe. 2019. The Life and Afterlife of Harry Houdini. Avid Reader Press. http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=cat05595a&AN=fay.670883.
    • Harvard:
      Posnanski, J. (2019) The life and afterlife of Harry Houdini. Avid Reader Press. Available at: http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=cat05595a&AN=fay.670883 (Accessed: 5 December 2019).
    • Harvard: Australian:
      Posnanski, J 2019, The life and afterlife of Harry Houdini, Avid Reader Press, viewed 5 December 2019, .
    • MLA:
      Posnanski, Joe. The Life and Afterlife of Harry Houdini. Avid Reader Press, 2019. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=cat05595a&AN=fay.670883.
    • Chicago/Turabian: Humanities:
      Posnanski, Joe. The Life and Afterlife of Harry Houdini. Avid Reader Press, 2019. http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=cat05595a&AN=fay.670883.
    • Vancouver/ICMJE:
      Posnanski J. The life and afterlife of Harry Houdini [Internet]. Avid Reader Press; 2019 [cited 2019 Dec 5]. Available from: http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=cat05595a&AN=fay.670883

Reviews

Booklist Reviews 2019 September #2

In the shadowy land between truth and fiction, magic and illusion hold court. Perhaps nobody appreciated this more than Harry Houdini. Despite an abundance of existing biographies, longtime sportswriter Posnanski tackles the cult of fame around Houdini, his fans and rivals, his family and friends, and his own thirst for notoriety and immortality. With a mix of history and legend, the author interviews obsessive Houdini fans and even goes on a voyage of his own, hunting an ultra-rare book called Houdini: The Key by Patrick Culliton, of which only a few hundred copies exist. Posnanski beckons readers ever closer to the page as he discloses secrets, builds suspense, and gently lifts the curtain on the legend. Also of value are the references to many prominent Houdini sites on the internet, where readers may want to follow up on parts of the story and learn more about today's Houdini communities. Readers will gladly disappear into the pages, proving that Houdini's unique brand of magic is still at work today, long after his death. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.

LJ Reviews 2019 October

Posnanski (The Secret of Golf), a self-confessed Harry Houdini fan, has written a marvelously entertaining book about his magical hero, shedding light on the background, motivation, and methods of a man who built a career around deception. Beginning with the much-mythologized childhood of Houdini (1874–1926), Posnanski charts the course of the Hungarian-born American illusionist's career, interviewing both fellow fans and critics to separate fact from fiction, revealing along the way a highly ambitious, often contentious, yet oddly likable man who was both consummate showman and brilliant self-promoter. But Posnanski's book is not just a biography of Houdini: it's as much an exploration of why Houdini's fame and legend endures, and how that legacy has inspired, confounded, and influenced generations of magicians and magic enthusiasts. Throughout, Posnanski introduces an eclectic cast of Houdini acolytes and scholars whose stories illustrate Houdini's powerful, continued hold on the public imagination. VERDICT Imbued with Posnanski's infectious passion for all things Houdini, this is a rollicking look at one of the 20th century's most influential and enigmatic entertainers.—Sara Shreve, Newton, KS

Copyright 2019 Library Journal.

PW Reviews 2019 August #2

Legendary escape artist Harry Houdini used showmanship, bombast, and a bit of fraud to concoct magic that still inspires, according to this starry-eyed biography. Sports Illustrated columnist Posnanski (The Soul of Baseball) gives a brisk, episodic recap of the Hungarian-American magician's rise to vaudeville's summit by escaping handcuffs and straitjackets (sometimes in mid-air) and underwater traps as audiences agonized in suspense. Posnanski doesn't reveal much Houdini methodology, but he does note the element of humbug: some of the seemingly impossible challenges he accepted were probably setups with confederates, and his signature upside down escape from a sealed, water-filled "Chinese Water-Torture Cell" was accomplished by lowering a curtain and having an assistant let him out. Houdini's real genius, in Posnanski's telling, was for publicity—his greatest PR agents were the many police departments that obligingly let him test himself against their restraints with reporters on hand—and romantic grandstanding. Posnanski intertwines the biography with profiles of present-day magicians and aficionados who acknowledge his mediocre magical chops but still revere him; these sections often drag, with their subjects coming off as skillful but gray magical technicians beside Houdini's larger-than-life flimflammer. When Posnanski stays focused on Houdini, he gives readers an entertaining study on the power of a charismatic personality to conjure captivating illusions. Photos. (Oct.)

Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly.

PW Reviews 2019 August #2

Legendary escape artist Harry Houdini used showmanship, bombast, and a bit of fraud to concoct magic that still inspires, according to this starry-eyed biography. Sports Illustrated columnist Posnanski (The Soul of Baseball) gives a brisk, episodic recap of the Hungarian-American magician's rise to vaudeville's summit by escaping handcuffs and straitjackets (sometimes in mid-air) and underwater traps as audiences agonized in suspense. Posnanski doesn't reveal much Houdini methodology, but he does note the element of humbug: some of the seemingly impossible challenges he accepted were probably setups with confederates, and his signature upside down escape from a sealed, water-filled "Chinese Water-Torture Cell" was accomplished by lowering a curtain and having an assistant let him out. Houdini's real genius, in Posnanski's telling, was for publicity—his greatest PR agents were the many police departments that obligingly let him test himself against their restraints with reporters on hand—and romantic grandstanding. Posnanski intertwines the biography with profiles of present-day magicians and aficionados who acknowledge his mediocre magical chops but still revere him; these sections often drag, with their subjects coming off as skillful but gray magical technicians beside Houdini's larger-than-life flimflammer. When Posnanski stays focused on Houdini, he gives readers an entertaining study on the power of a charismatic personality to conjure captivating illusions. Photos. (Oct.)

Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly.