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Publisher's Summary

Handcuff King. Escape Artist. International Superstar. Since his death in 1926, Harry Houdini's life has been chronicled in books, in films, and on television. Now, in this groundbreaking biography, renowned magic expert William Kalush and best-selling writer Larry Sloman team up to find the man behind the myth. Drawing from millions of pages of research, they describe in vivid detail the passions that drove Houdini to perform ever-more-dangerous feats, his secret life as a spy, and a pernicious plot to subvert his legacy.

After years of struggling on the dime-museum circuit, Harry Houdini got a break that thrust him into the spotlight, performing for royalty and commanding vast sums. At a time when spy agencies frequently co-opted amateurs, Houdini went to London and developed a relationship with a man who would run MI-5; for the next several years, he traveled to Germany and Russia and routinely reported his findings. After World War I, Houdini set out to infiltrate and expose the seamy world of fake spirit mediums, triggering the wrath of a group of fanatical spiritualists led by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Death threats became an everyday occurrence, but the group would pose an even greater danger to Houdini's legacy.

As exciting as any good thriller, The Secret Life of Houdini traces the arc of the master magician's life from desperate poverty to worldwide legend and initiates the listener into the arcane world of professional magic.

©2006 Light and Heavy, Inc. All rights reserved (P)2006 Simon and Schuster Inc. All rights reserved. AUDIOWORKS is an imprint of Simon and Schuster Audio Division, Simon and Schuster Inc.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Wait for the unabridged version

William Kalush and Larry "Ratso" Sloman are two of the best non-fiction writers in the business. The written version of this book is outstanding. Unfortunatley the abridged audio version is not. In the future the publishers would be well served to release the written book and release the audio version when it is fully ready. This appears to be a hurried, not well thought out production.
The audio editor left out some of the most compelling interesting parts of Mr. Houdini's life and does nothing more than recount Mr. Houdini's public performances. This makes the audio version seem repetitive and monontous.
Too bad, very disappointing. I recommend waiting for the unabridged audio version or to read the written word.

64 of 67 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • .
  • 10-21-14

Very good, but wanted more.

Any additional comments?

I really enjoyed this book. I learned a lot about Houdini that I didn't know. But this was an abridged book and I felt there were some things left out or overly summarized. I'll check out the unabridged version from the library.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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

Awesome !

Would you listen to The Secret Life of Houdini again? Why?

Really interesting. So much I didn't know about him

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Secret Life of Houdini?

His battle with Sir Conan Dooyle

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

His story about flying a plane in Australia

Any additional comments?

highly recommend

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • apad
  • NEW YORK, NEW YORK, United States
  • 07-27-18

great story about an amazing man

I knew the gist of Houdini's life from documentaries, but was still surprised by how much he did, and struggled, that I didn't know about. There are also some scenes (like the opening one) which are deliver more dramatically and less like an accounting of fact which are very gripping.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Magical

Greatly insightful look into the life of a master magician and psychic revealer. It is clear the authors did their homework right.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Finished it in one day

Can sincerely recommended this book! A good story with a good reader! As I said in the headline finished in one day, money well spent!

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Anthnony
  • VENICE, FL, United States
  • 04-18-16

Great listen

This story had enough detail about his life to keep you interested but not so much that it became boring. It was really interesting and kept me listening to the whole book on one long road trip.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Chad
  • Atlanta, GA, United States
  • 05-16-15

Absolutely Captivating

A friend of mine recommended this book to me and it turned out to be awesome. especially the part about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle the author of Sherlock Holmes towards the end there certainly some sides of your day of the Houdini story probably never heard

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

long time Houdini fan

I have been a longstanding Houdini fan. in fact, Houdini is my nick name since childhood. I was so influenced by him that I took up magic. Although I have read countless books on Houdini, I enjoyed this one. I especially like the information about the friendship and later rivalry with Conan Doyle. I also like the detailed explanation on Houdini's demise. People constantly argue that he died performing an illusion, or burst appendix or peritonitis.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • nikki
  • rockwall, TX, United States
  • 05-29-15

It was a great listen

I really enjoyed learning about Houdini and what he stood for. He had many talents and was extremely smart.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful