Fooling Houdini: Magicians, Mentalists, Math Geeks, And The Hidden Powers Of The Mind

Hardcover | June 19, 2012

byAlex Stone

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An exploration of the world of magic that teaches the reader many tricks--including how better to understand the real world.
 
Alex Stone--journalist and part-time conjurer--is here to amaze you. But first he had to amaze his fellow magicians. Fooling Houdini is his fascinating, revealing, and nailbiting account of his attempt to win the 23rd World Championships of Magic, the "Magic Olympics," the largest and most prestigious competition of its kind.
 
Alex Stone managed to qualify for entry and began preparing to astonish people who astonish others for a living. It didn't help his nerves that he was placed on the bill straight after Canadian magician Shawn Farquhar, winner of more magic competitions than anyone in history. Stone's preparations and participation provide his readers with in-depth exploration of the world of magic, and magic's meaning.
 
He spills many professional secrets, arguing that what is important is to ask questions about what lies behind the tricks: how the mind perceives the world and parses everyday experience, about how the mind works--and why sometimes it doesn't, about why people need to believe.
 
As we become more attuned to the limits of our own perception, we become better at distinguishing reality from illusion, at reading the angles and decoding the fine print, he says. We gain intuition and understanding into how people behave. We even learn ways to influence this behavior. This makes us less susceptible to all manner of deception.
 
It is to gain and maintain this sixth sense that Alex Stone--a schoolboy prestidigitator--has continued performing magic well into adulthood. In Fooling Houdini he takes us into that other world, populated by truly astounding characters, and leaves us with a heightened sense of awareness about the supposedly real world.

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From the Publisher

An exploration of the world of magic that teaches the reader many tricks--including how better to understand the real world.  Alex Stone--journalist and part-time conjurer--is here to amaze you. But first he had to amaze his fellow magicians. Fooling Houdini is his fascinating, revealing, and nailbiting account of his attempt to win th...

ALEX STONE has written for Harper's, Discover, Science and other magazines. He graduated from Harvard University and has a masters degree in physics from Columbia University. He grew up in Wisconsin, Texas, and Spain. He lives in New York City.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:320 pages, 8.5 × 5.6 × 1.1 inPublished:June 19, 2012Publisher:Doubleday CanadaLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0385667574

ISBN - 13:9780385667579

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Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great introduction to the magician sub-culture I quite liked "Fooling Houdini: Magicians, Mentalists, Math Geeks, and the Hidden Powers of the Mind" by Alex Stone. This isn’t a how-to book. Although several card tricks are outlined in broad terms, no detail recipe for reproducing any tricks is given. Rather the book is more of a memoir of the author’s long fascination with magic and his more recent obsession as he seriously tries to develop his skills. If nothing else, it is certainly a very entertaining read, and a great introduction to the magician sub-culture.
Date published: 2012-11-20
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Interesting Read The book was interesting as you follow the writer's fascination with magic over the years. This culminates in the author's learning about how people really see (or don't see - a major element of illusions) and the nature of perception. The book was an enjoyable, quick read but I would have preferred more on perception etc. I had purchased the book as I understood it was about perception but this really only occupied the last few chapters. I would recommend this book as a good read and interesting for someone curious about a person folowing their passion and a light introduction to human perception.
Date published: 2012-08-20

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.ca - Best 100 Books of 2012“With many fascinating anecdotes up his sleeve, Stone conjures an entertaining book.” —Publishers Weekly “Magically engrossing.” —Kirkus Reviews “Stone's engaging journey into his amateur magic career is as enlightening as it is disturbing. Not only does he reveal closely guarded secrets hoarded, in some cases, for thousands of years but he tears open the psyche of the archetypal magician. It mirrors too closely the geekiness, brilliance and single-mindedness illusionists seek to hide, even from themselves.” —Winnipeg Free Press “If you're not that interested in the secretive world of magic, just disappear. But if you're fascinated by odd little corners of society, Fooling Houdini is not only informative, but highly entertaining. Stone has pulled the proverbial rabbit out of the hat.” —USA Today“An eye-opening, irresistible journey into the world of magic.  Stone has written a masterful story that is bursting with energy, inventiveness, and a sense of wonder on every page.  I don't even like magic, but I couldn't put Fooling Houdini down!” —Steven Levitt, author of Freakonomics “An enthralling journey into the inner world of magic. Alex Stone writes with a winning voice that you’ll want to follow anywhere.” —Joshua Foer, author of Moonwalking with Einstein “Fooling Houdini is a totally smart and engrossing study of one of America’s most misunderstood sub-cultures.” —John Hodgman, author of That Is All“What I loved most about Fooling Houdini is the world it takes us into: these huddled cliques of obsessed magicians reinventing their art. . . . This book makes you want to do magic tricks, and convinces you just how hard it is to do them well.” —Ira Glass, host of This American Life“The story of Fooling Houdini is simply wonderful—as good as a novel, I think—and yet all true. . . . Stone is an engaging writer, but he wisely spends his energy, not on trying to dazzle us with his writing, but telling us the truth as clearly as possible.” —Orson Scott Card for Rhino Times“Alex Stone’s Fooling Houdini is a delight. . . . He writes with wit and scientific sharpness and grand humor. He immerses us in a fascinating world few have ever entered.” —Buzz Bissinger, author Friday Night Lights