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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Magicians of old » » Old school books. (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

T. Sebastian
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Ozark Mountains, USA
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What are some good books on the history of magic?
I have read and really enjoyed the works of Jim Steinmeyer. "Hiding the Elephant", "The Glorious Deception", "Art and Artiface".
Also "The Illustrated History of Magic" by Milbourne Christpher.

I'm very interested in the history of this wonderful art of ours and would greatly appreciate any suggestions.
So sorry I soiled your precious eyes.
Jimeh
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Ottawa, Ontario
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Bill Palmer will eventually see this and offer his advice for sure Smile
He indicated to me Milbourne's book is not the most accurate (I also own it).
I enjoy the history of magic as well so I'll be interested to hear what suggestions people have...
Gerry Walkowski
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By all means get David Price's book, The Pictorial History of Magicians in the Theatre. I don't have my copy in front of me, but I'm sure that is the title.
critter
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I have the Milbourne Christopher book too:) I was aware of a few inaccuracies.
If you like Jim Steinmeyer's books then you should read 'The Secret Life of Houdini.' by William Kalush. The premise was pure speculation, but it had a lot of great information of the times with many references, yet told in an entertaining way.
A fictional story, yet one that tells much of the atmosphere in the times, and is littered with 'real' history, is "Carter beats the Devil."
And finally, one of my favorites on magic history is Amazing Randi's
'Conjuring,' which you can get for about 8 bucks here:
http://www.amazon.com/Conjuring-James-Randi/dp/0312097719
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Mark R. Williams
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Randi's book has even MORE inaccuracies than Christopher's book. Many were especially glaring wondering what kind of editing went on with it.

Perhaps that is why it is available so cheep?!?!?!

Regards
"One more step on the pathway of Knowledge, that is if we don't break our leg crossing the street"
Spellbinder
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I'll tell you a secret... shhh! EVERY history book ever written contains "inaccuracies." That includes history textbooks used for teaching history in schools and colleges. So does every science textbook used in teaching science in schools and colleges. So get over it, because that's no excuse for not doing your homework and reading up on your history or science - magic oriented or not. If you find an "innacuracy" as you read, highlight it and make a margin note, but don't try to influence others not to read the book and have the fun of finding their own "innacuracies."
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rickmagic1
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That's why you read every book until you realize: somewhere in the middle is the truth!
Richard Green
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Host of the Haunted Magic show at House of Cards Nashville!
MagicalArtist
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One good book that I think is still in print is Christopher's "Panorama of Magic."

There have been so many books on magic history written through the years, many no longer in print. Unfortunately, many such good books are even hard to find anymore in libraries. You might have to rely on eBay or used book dealers.

Paul Curry wrote one such book called "Magician's Magic."

There was a good one by John Mulholland.

"The Art of Magic" by Douglas and Kari Hunt is good, but the earlier edition was better, because the later edition had some material removed that the publisher thought had become "dated."

The Great Book of Magic" by Rydell and Gilbert had a good history section.

PBS published a very nicely-produced book called "The Art of Magic" as a companion to their TV documentary.

All of these books are out of print. Still worth seeking out.
Bill Palmer
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The biggest problem I have with Christopher's material is that there are what I consider to be deliberate mistakes based upon his desire for certain things to exist that simply did not.

The most obvious one is the painting on the south wall of Tomb 15 at Beni Hasan. He believed these were cups and balls workers. He simply parrotted information from Clarke when he did this. He also stated that the tomb was under water -- which it isn't -- never has been. He claimed that the tomb was submerged during the Nile Reclamation Project in 1966. But that's a LONG way upstream from Beni Hasan.

This is what he said in Illustrated History of Magic.

This is a matter of simple fact-checking.
"The Swatter"

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My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

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T. Sebastian
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Ozark Mountains, USA
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A wealth of information. Thank you gentlemen.
So sorry I soiled your precious eyes.
mtpascoe
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Walter B. Gibson’s Master Magician is very entertaining. You have to do your research and realize some inaccuracies. For example, the Torrini episode in the Robert-Houdin section. Probably at the time Gibson wrote this, it was taken as fact. Bill can and will correct me on this I’m sure.

Another fun book is David Bamberg’s Illusion Show. He recalls stories about magicians that many books don’t cover.
T. Sebastian
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I was just recently gifted with a copy of Randi's book. A lady who caught one of my shows enjoyed it so much that she took the book from her own shelf and gave it to me. I was quite moved by the gesture. She passed it on through a mutual friend and I'm trying to get some contact info so I can thank her personally.
So sorry I soiled your precious eyes.
Bill Palmer
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Charles Pecor's book is excellent for the relatively small segment of the history of magic it covers.

Frost's The Lives of the Conjurers has some fairly decent information in it.

It's really important to separate the advertising books from the scholarly ones, though. For example, Kellock's book about Houdini was based more on Houdini's publicity material than upon fact. Later books were much more factual.

The worst thing that can happen in any book about the history of anything is for people who write the book to start with an agenda. This is why we get stories that say that the ancient Egyptians had wings until the evil Europeans captured them and tore their wings off. Pure rubbish!
"The Swatter"

Founder of CODBAMMC

My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

www.cupsandballsmuseum.com
HusssKarson
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Tarbell rocks all time.
Lawrence O
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Quote:
On 2008-12-09 03:20, Bill Palmer wrote:


The worst thing that can happen in any book about the history of anything is for people who write the book to start with an agenda.



Bill,
I don't understand what you exactly mean with this. Could you develop as I always thought that trying to get as much day by day facts as possible was a sensible and rigorous approach. I don't get what you try to share here.
Magic is the art of proving impossible things in parallel dimensions that can't be reached
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