• Fooling Houdini

  • Magicians, Mentalists, Math Geeks, and the Hidden Powers of the Mind
  • By: Alex Stone
  • Narrated by: Alex Stone
  • Length: 9 hrs and 14 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 06-16-12
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: HarperAudio
  • 4 out of 5 stars (189 ratings)

Regular price: $28.51

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Publisher's Summary

When Alex Stone was five years old, his father bought him a magic kit - a gift that would spark a lifelong love. Years later, while living in New York City, he discovered a vibrant underground magic scene exploding with creativity and innovation and populated by a fascinating cast of characters: from his gruff mentor, who holds court in the back of a rundown pizza shop, to one of the world's greatest card cheats, who also happens to be blind. Captivated, he plunged headlong into this mysterious world, eventually competing at the Magic Olympics and training with great magicians around the globe to perfect his craft.

From the back rooms of New York City's century-old magic societies to cutting-edge psychology labs; three-card monte on Canal Street to glossy Las Vegas casinos; 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. Every turn leads to questions about how the mind perceives the world and processes everyday experiences. 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.

©2012 Alex Stone (P)2012 HarperCollins Publishers

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What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great insight into the life of a magician

Those last two negative reviews don't make any sense. I don't think they were listening to the same book. The author has a lot of interesting and detailed information collected on his journey to becoming a well rounded magician. He also does a great job narrating his own book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Joe
  • Kansas City, MO, United States
  • 11-01-12

I suppose the author thinks he's clever

God, I really wanted to like this novel. I really did. I wanted to see a thoughtful, informative examination of the magician's world. This book skims the interesting details and techniques of magicians and instead focuses on - of all things - the narrator's life as a student and an aspiring magician. I could not possibly care less. I wanted a book in the style of Mary Roach, what I got was a personal life journey. Personal details stand in place of logistical and technical details and the story of how magicians dedicate decades to their craft simply slips away. Sure, there's a few conferences and interesting characters in here, a little about psychology that I found interesting. But overall, the content is simply not there.

Moreover, the author narrates his own book here. That is almost never a good idea. He's not a compelling reader, giving pauses where they aren't needed, lacking good inflection and not punching up the audio to give the best experience. In an interview at the end he has the gall to suggest that no one else could read his book because of how personal of a story it is. It's audacious, and the book isn't that interesting to begin with. Sorry, Mr. Stone.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

This is a Memoir

You'll learn a lot about Alex Stone and magicians. But very little about mentalists, math geeks, and the hidden powers of the mind. Since the subtitle is what convinced me to buy the book, I was very disappointed. If you're a budding magician, though, you'll probably enjoy this. I just wish this book about deception didn't have such a deceiving title.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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enjoyable!!

inspired me to get back into magic. this book did that for me . thanks

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Way more diversity of content than I expected

This book combines personal narrative, instruction, history, moral exploration, deep thinking, and educational elements. Stone revealed a world I'd never known existed and turned many of my perceptions of the world I DO know on their heads. Magic is inextricably linked with psychology, neuroscience, mathematics, crime, much of American history, and the birth of dollar stores, among many other things! I was pleasantly surprised by the author's candidness and originality of thought. I was delighted that so many of my own questions about magic were answered! It ended too soon but has caused me to begin researching the subject for myself. I can't recommend it enough nor to too many people. The book has injected a new liveliness in my daily conversations! Magic really is a universal delight.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Super interesting

Hard to put down. Well narrated by the author. One of the most interesting books that I have read in awhile.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Shawn
  • Lindon, UT, United States
  • 03-31-14

Self-important drivel

Not at all impressed with this book. The author seems very full of himself. I was hoping to learn more about the works of magic but it approaches the subject like anyone who believes anything is an idiot. Actually, everyone is an idiot. I could not make a connection with this book.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Witty, fun, interesting.

What did you love best about Fooling Houdini?

If you identify with coming of age stories about geeks, outcasts, and nerds, this is worth your credit. Witty with interesting connections to science and magic lore. Great narration.

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Exceeded my expectations!

I set my expectations high and Alex pleasantly smashed them. Great content and story telling!!

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Amazing look at a fascinating world

This is one of the rare books that I both read in print and listened to on audio. So insightful, smart and funny. I learned a lot about the world of magic. Thank you! Waiting for a part two. :0)