Fooling Houdini

Fooling Houdini

Magicians, Mentalists, Math Geeks, and the Hidden Powers of the Mind

eBook - 2012
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
Publisher: New York : Harper, 2012
ISBN: 9780307368218
Characteristics: 1 online resource ; 320 pages.
Additional Contributors: OverDrive, Inc

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Quetzlzacatenango
Jan 23, 2013

I almost didn't read this book after reading Ricky Jay's oft quoted and rather hostile review. However, being more interested in magic subculture and how things are done rather than the effect itself, I decided to read it anyway. Chapter 6 shed some light on any hostility towards the author and I must say I agree with him that understanding what goes into magic allows you to appreciate it on another level. Stone's story is a tale of obsession and colorful characters with a sprinkling of mathematics and science. I have to say I even felt moved by his personal triumph (of sorts!) at the end and his final chapter has some wonderful insights that make this worth reading.

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horthhill
Nov 19, 2012

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.

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