Fooling Houdini

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

Publisher: Anchor Canada

An exploration of the world of magic that teaches the reader many tricks--including how better to understand the real world.

When Alex Stone was five years old, his father bought him a magic kit--a gift that would spark a lifelong love. Years later, he discovered a vibrant New York underground magic scene exploding with creativity and innovation and populated by a fascinating cast of characters. Captivated, he plunged headlong into this mysterious world. From the back rooms of New York City's century-old magic societies to cutting-edge psychology labs, Fooling Houdini recounts Stone's quest to join the ranks of master magicians. As he navigates this quirky and occasionally hilarious subculture, Stone pulls back the curtain on a community shrouded in secrecy, fueled by obsession and brilliance, and organized around a single overriding need: to prove one's worth by deceiving others.

But his journey is more than a tale of tricks, gigs, and geeks. In trying to understand how expert magicians manipulate our minds to create their astonishing illusions, Stone uncovers a wealth of insight into human nature and the nature of perception. By investigating some of the lesser-known corners of psychology, neuroscience, physics, history, and even crime, all through the lens of trickery and illusion, Fooling Houdini arrives at a host of startling revelations about how the mind works--and why, sometimes, it doesn't.


"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. . . . Stone also brilliantly melds the sciences of physics, biology, mathematics, neuroscience and memory with thieves, grifters and card sharps. It is an intelligent and fascinating treatise on the working brain."
—Winnipeg Free Press