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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Magicians of old » » Jasper Maskelyne war exploits (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Anyone with an interest in the fascinating story of Jasper Maskelyne, may like to check out a new site that digs a little behind the "story".

This research was first published in the Journal of the Genii's Magical Society (Sydney Australia) ten years ago and has now been placed on the web.

Warning. the research is huge, and the findings challenging.

Timothy Hyde
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I read a book called the war magician... It was about Jasper,,, Great book...
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Clay Shevlin
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Glenn, if you look at the excellent web site mentioned above(written by Richard Stokes), you will find all kinds of interesting information there, mostly relating to The War Magician and Mr. Stokes fascinating efforts to sort the BS from the truth. Clay
The Magician
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I have just finished reading the War Magician with Jasper Maskelyne and it was a fascinating read
The Magician

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On the British Pathe' database their is a rare film clip of Jasper doing the needle trick "I Think" very cool
Dick Christian
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Several years ago the History Channel aired a documentary titled "The War Illusionist" based on David Fisher's book. It is shown again from time to time. After years of exhaustive research, Richard Stokes uncovered the true story which revealed that David Fisher based his novelised account on Maskelyne’s purported memoirs, 'Magic Top Secret'(1949) and on a private scrapbook, 'Deceptive Camouflage Ideas 1941-45', compiled by Maskelyne after the war. After examining both sources, studying relevant declassified files in the National Archives and corresponding in depth with Alistair Maskelyne, Jasper’s son who lives in Brisbane, Australia, Stokes' independent research revealed that Jasper Maskelyne did not write 'Magic Top Secret' but that the real author was Frank S. Stuart who produced several sham ‘biographies’ before the war.

Stokes published "Jasper Maskelyne, Master of Make-Believe: The Real Story Behind the War Magician," which debunks many of the claims in the Fisher book, as an e-book in 2007 or 2008. The link in Timothy Hyde's post above takes you to the contents of Stokes' book.

It turns out that much of Maskelyne's contribution to the war effort consisted of entertaining the troops and that, like Houdini, he excelled at self-promotion as well as magic.
Dick Christian
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That seems, sadly to be true. A few years ago I was involved in researching and presenting a number of TV programmes here in the UK (and one in Japan) about said wartime exploits of Jasper and it seems that he was living in the shadow of his famous father (and grandfather), having been thrust into the role of magician mainly because it was the family trade. Recounting his role in the war seems to have been his chance to 'build his part' in retrospect, and without giving credit to the rest of the team of people of whom he was but one part.
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