Though we personally have been witnessing mindreading acts for some forty years and presenting tests in thought-transference for more than thirty, we have never attempted to perform, and indeed have never actually seen, the type of mental demonstration that, for almost three-quarters of a century, has been known among magicians as "muscle-reading." However, we have long been familiar with all that has been written of the methods employed by John Randall Brown, Washington Irving Bishop, and Stuart Cumberland, who were pioneers in the field - methods which, with slight modifications, still meet the needs of Franz Polgar, the most widely publicized performer of this type at the present moment, and form the stock-in-trade of all the current "muscle-readers."
Mr. Fitzkee prefers the term "contact mindreading" (which he credits to C. A. George Newmann) to the old, familiar name "muscle-reading," but does not argue that the change in terminology signifies any change in the basic principle employed. This principle is, indeed, so exceedingly simple that a bare statement of the method is likely to be of comparatively little practical use. Some of the printed explanations we have seen were far too concise to be genuinely serviceable to the reader. One of the present author's real contributions in this connection lies in his talking about contact mindreading at some length, explaining its "whys and wherefores," telling what it is not as well as what it is, describing the mental attitude the performer should adapt and the way to instruct the "subject" so that his mental attitude will aid rather than hinder the accomplishment of the tests, giving repeated assurances that the reader can perform feats of this kind if only he will try them out and persevere, and so on.
In addition to explaining the general principle of contact mindreading and giving step-by-step directions for putting it into practice, Mr. Fitzkee includes a chapter which describes some fifteen specific tests, such as finding a hidden knife or ring, sorting out a half-dozen hats and thus discovering the owner of each, picking out the air of a simple melody on the piano, and solving a murder mystery. He also gives a short but good opening speech, which may readily be adapted to the needs of the individual performer.
Contact Mind Reading is a well-printed booklet, bound in soft boards, with thirty-five pages of text. In a feat which, as the author concedes, "is entirely dependent upon extremely subtle principles," there can be no guarantee that every reader will be able to carry to complete success the procedures that are here explained. But if he is ever to become a contact mind reader, he will have to go far to find a better starting-point than the instructions given in this booklet; and once he has actually mastered the feat he will have at his command, as Mr. Newmann puts it in the Introduction, "something impressive that he can do at a moment's notice, anywhere, at any time, without special paraphernalia or preparation before a cooperative audience of one or more persons." This is surely a goal worth aiming at; and the moderate price of Mr. Fitzkee's booklet (which is unusually low for material of this type) renders the financial risk a very slight one.