What makes a book on card magic underrated? Some will argue that most works are woefully under-read by much of the magic community, choosing instead to watch DVDs and YouTube videos to further their knowledge base. But even within the tiny bubble of hardcore card magic fanatics who read over every available card magic book word for word, some great books fall between the cracks or are ignored. Others are unfortunately not as admired as much as they should be or once were. They are either ranked below their value or not ranked highly enough.
With that said, let me tell you about Cy Endfield's Entertaining Card Magic. Seeing that I'm not a copywriter trying to sell you soda pop or toothpaste, I won't insult your intelligence with over-the-top hyperbole: BEST EVER! GREATEST! OUT OF THIS WORLD!
But I will say this: Cy Endfield's Entertaining Card Magic is a superb book and deserves to be read by a wider audience.
I consider myself to be a professional hobbyist when it comes to card magic. I'm no master of the pasteboards but know enough sleight of hand to spice up any self-working trick. In my heart, though, I've always aspired to be a proficient finger-flinger. My bookshelves are lined with must-have classics like Expert At The Card Table and Greater Magic. I'll be honest with you: those books scare me. To quote movie icon Clint Eastwood in Magnum Force: "A man's got to know his limitations."
But Endfield's book was altogether something else. I never felt like I had just read a complicated textbook or technical manual. Instead, I felt like I had taken a private, one-on-one lesson from one of the forgotten greats of card magic, personally learning the best of his repertoire.
Initially published in 1955 in three separate parts, It's not the typical book of advanced card magic packed with complicated tricks and sleights that only other magicians can appreciate. Studying advanced sleight-of-hand from a book is a formidable task and can be about as dull as reading Marx's The Communist Manifesto, not to mention utterly confusing. But, writer Lewis Ganson uses his incomparable talent to simplify descriptions, step by step, to their utmost essentials.
From refreshing twists on classic tricks like the Ambitious Card to gambling effects like the three-card monte, Cy Endfield has created these routines to not only bewilder and amaze fellow performers but also to provide high-caliber entertainment to the lay public.
And he leaves nothing out, not only teaching you the routines and sleights but the psychology and motivation behind the moves.
Endfield was also a screenwriter and director of such classic action films as Zulu and its sequel, Zulu Dawn. So, it is no surprise that some of his effects highly emphasize storytelling and delivery. Tricks like Two To Divine, "Blackie Is With Us!" and Conjure Bones have plots that seem to have jumped from the pages of depression-era pulp magazines like Weird Tales or Adventure.
But don't just take my word for it. Endfield's legacy is hailed by none other than his former student and conjuring virtuoso, Michael Vincent. It's easy to assume that Vincent praises his former teacher's work out of a sense of loyalty or rose-colored nostalgia, but that would be a mistake. He praises the book because it's good.
Cy Endfields Entertaining Card Magic is a minor classic, but a classic nonetheless worthy of your attention (and your $19.00). Its title says it all. It's a guidebook for learning advanced magic that charms, delights, and entertains its audience. It should be read by every magician looking to add unique, tested material to their collection of tricks. From happy hobbyist to major-league move monkey, there's something in this book for everyone at every skill level.