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Biographies & History

Magic has a rich and long history. You will read fascinating stories about Houdini, Robert-Houdin and their predecessors, or about long forgotten inventors of today's popular tricks. Maybe you have seen the movie "The Illusionist" or "The Prestige" and want to find out more about magic and some of the tricks from the movies. Here is a great place to start to wet your appetite and then later you can dive into the methods and how to ebooks.

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Jean Hugard
Houdini's Unmasking by Jean Hugard

Houdini wrote a very nasty book about Robert-Houdin claiming that Robert-Houdin stole many tricks and was in reality not as great a magician as he usually is portraid. Jean Hugard sets with this book the record straight and reveals Houdini's fabricated arguments. Houdini's unmasking of Robert-Houdin was just a revenge on Robert-Houdin's family and had little to do with reality. But you can find out for yourself and read The Unmasking of Robert-Houdin. Houdini's Unmasking originally appeared serialized in Jean Hugards magazine Hugard's Magic Monthly.

Published as part of "Hugard's Magic Monthly" beginning with volume 15, number 1, June 1957; 78 pages; PDF 48 pages....

2005 / 9 / 2
$2

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Harry Houdini
The Unmasking of Robert-Houdin by Harry Houdini

Houdini was upset that the widow of Robert-Houdin did not want to meet him. As a revenge Harry Houdini wrote The Unmasking of Robert-Houdin, in which Houdini tries to push Robert-Houdin from his pedestal. He tries to show that most tricks Robert-Houdin claimed as his invention were in fact not his invention and that Robert-Houdin was not this great magician he usually is thought he was. But most of Houdini's allegations are fabricated and do not stand close inspection. Jean Hugard wrote as response to Houdini's nasty book Houdini's Unmasking, where Hugard point for point refutes Houdini's argumentation. I personally favor Hugard's opinion,...

2005 / 9 / 7
$6

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PDF & EPUB

Harry Leat
Forty Years in and around Magic by Harry Leat

Harry Leat describes incidences during his magic life, some odd, some funny, some unbelievable. Often another well known magic celebraty was involved, such as Houdini, Selbit, Trewey, ... This book makes a great read. No tricks.

1st edition, 1923, Harry Leat, London; 77 pages.

2005 / 9 / 8
$3

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Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin
Memoirs of Robert-Houdin by Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin

This is a great book written by one of the greatest magicians of all time, Robert-Houdin. He describes in his own words his development from a little boy to a star performer. How he started as a watchmaker, performed in the St. James Theater, and ended up helping France with a conflict with the Marabouts. Read it. Highly recommended.

Paul Fleming wrote:

Eighteen hundred and forty-five was a great year for magic, and July third of that year a memorable date for all who love conjuring. For on that day Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin first presented his soirees fantastiques in his own little theater - on what...

2005 / 9 / 9
$8

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Harry Kellar
A Magician's Tour by Harry Kellar

Harry Kellar writes about his travels and adventures around the world. Very readable and entertaining.

1st edition, 1886; 214 pages.

  1. Start in Life
  2. The Bull Fight
  3. Triumphal Tour through Mexico
  4. In the Role of Prophet
  5. Through South America
  6. Around the Horn
  7. Shipwreck and Reverses
  8. First Bow in the Colonies
  9. Dining with the Maharajah
  10. Boar Hunt in Java
  11. The City of Shanghai
  12. At the Court of Ava
  13. The Spiritualist Excitement
  14. In the Punjaub
  15. In Bombay
  16. The Jugglers of India
  17. In Africa
  18. Hard Luck Turns
  19. Before Her Majesty
  20. Kimberley Diamond Fields
  21. Substitute for Jails
  22. Chinese Gordon
  23. Among...
2005 / 9 / 11
$12

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Michael E. Rose
Joe Karson Beyond Zombie by Michael E. Rose

Joe Karson, of course, invented the famous "Zombie" floating ball, but there was quite a bit more to Karson than just that.

The ebook is divided into two main sections; Karson's biography and Karson's creations (books, tricks and commentary). It has 29 photos, most not seen in many years. Besides extensive research in New England public records, several people who knew Karson were also interviewed, both magicians and laymen. Some of the well known magic personalities interviewed were; John Calvert, Jim Cellini, Ray & Ann Goulet, Jay Marshall, Sidney Radner, Nick Ruggiero, Les Smith, Tony Spina, Ben Stone, Parker...

2006 / 2 / 22
$20

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Eddie Joseph
Magic and Mysteries of India by Eddie Joseph

Eddie Joseph who was born in India and lived there for most of his life. He wanted to write a detailed, true and unbiased description of the Indian magician and his methods. He penetrated deeply into the subject rather than give it superficial treatment. This ebook will give you a clear perspective of India's Mystery Mongers and their mysterious creations.

1st edition 1940; PDF 73 pages.

  1. Introduction
  2. Chapter One - Mystery Abounding
  3. Chapter Two - Peering Beyond the Horizon
  4. Chapter Three - The Gypsy Told Me So
  5. Chapter Four - The Magicians of East India
  6. Chapter Five - East Indian Mysteries ...
2006 / 6 / 23
$9

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John Scarne
The Odds Against Me by John Scarne

If he'd had a touch of larceny in him, he could have been the number one card sharp of all time. Instead, the author of these fabulous memoirs, born to a mother who considered gambling the "devil's tool," puts his extraordinary gifts to far different purpose.

He has used his incredible gambling sense, his miraculously dexterous fingers, his brilliant mathematical mind, his fascination with carnival and gambling life, to become America's number one authority on gambling and odds.

He was the greatest practitioner and analyst of card and dice sleight of hand. His artistry impressed FDR as...

2006 / 8 / 17
$19

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Jim Kleefeld
The Eclectic Collector by Jim Kleefeld

A Sampling of categorized magical collectibles. Jim Kleefeld is a magic collector and writes for the M.U.M., the official organ of the S.A.M.

The Eclectic Collector will present to you a set of chapters that each delineate collectible artifacts in a category. The categories are a broad mix and the artifacts will vary in number. In some categories there are so many good examples, ten did not seem sufficient. In other categories, there are so few examples, that finding ten is extremely difficult.

Each chapter includes several photos of objects from Jim's collection within the category. These...

2006 / 9 / 29
$15

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Barton Whaley
Orson Welles: The Man Who Was Magic by Barton Whaley

This Orson Welles ebook is a case study of an individual that was able to think "out of the box". Each small fact presented leads to the whole of a thinking process that will always provide an unexpected Third Option. The process that is presented here is the kernel of all deception theory. It's why Bart is called the "defining expert" of deception and counterdeception (the detection of deception) by the intelligence communities of many countries.

Not only does it personify the Whaley Deception Theory it presents the genius of Orson Welles through all his creative work, not just Citizen Kane....

2006 / 12 / 7
$30

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Leo Behnke
Magic Show Tonite! by Leo Behnke

During the settlement of the Wild West, entertainers followed along the trails to provide the very much needed distraction from the grueling voyage. This ebook describes their circumstances and stories.

Originally this work was published as miniature book.

1st edition 1999; digital version 22 pages

2006 / 12 / 19
$3

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Leo Behnke
The Making of Playing Cards by Leo Behnke

Leo Behnke worked for many years for Paulson, a playing card manufacturer. He describes in this ebook the history of playing card production up to the process that is used for todays cards. He also describes in detail the 9 editions of the Magic Castle cards and how one can identify them.

Beyond the interesting historical and technical descriptions Leo is offering, this information can also be quite helpful in creating a script or interesting line of presentation for a trick or routine.

The contents of this ebook was presented at a Magic Collectors meeting in Las Vegas, April 8 2005. ...

2007 / 1 / 6
$3

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Barton Whaley
Encyclopedic Dictionary of Magic by Barton Whaley

This is a new edition of the famous and unique magic dictionary by Bart Whaley. Bart has continued to correct entries in this dictionary until the present. We have converted everything to PDF and added bookmarks for each entry in the dictionary as well as inserted thousands of hyperlinked cross-references to make browsing and using this dictionary as convenient as possible.

There is simply no other such encyclopedia. Some have tried but nobody has achieved what Bart Whaley has. The depth and breadth is mind boggling. Almost 4000 terms are described. This is the absolute must have magic desk...

2007 / 2 / 8
$50

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PDF

Karl Norman
The Karl Norman Interview by Karl Norman

Life, Magic and The Forks Hotel. For nearly 40 years Karl worked his magic behind the bar of the famed Forks Hotel in Buffalo, NY. Magicians from all over the world would flock to the bar to see Karl and Eddie Fechter work. Many magicians got their start at the Forks. In this 45 minute interview Karl talks about how he got his start in magic, how he met Eddie Fechter, The Forks hotel, how the FFFF convention got started and more, all while telling some great stories. This is a great tale of magic history.

2007 / 2 / 23
$10

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MP3

Al Mann
Axel Hellstrom by Al Mann

The Life and works of Axel Hellstrom. Contents include:

  • Hellstrom's history
  • Axel Hellstrom's mnemonic system
  • other performers
  • Hellstrom & Houdini & the S.A.M.
Note that this manuscript comes unbound in a package of loose sheets, the way Al Mann stored them. You can bind them anyway you like, or leave them unbound, perhaps only hole punch them and put them in a binder.

19 pages

2007 / 3 / 10
$30

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Chuck Romano
House of Cards by Chuck Romano

This is a unique and beautiful ebook that chronicles the fascinating life of Paul Rosini and explains much of the exceptional magic he performed during his career.

Illustrated with rare photographs and beautiful illustrations, this entertaining book relates Rosini's rise to fame in American nightclubs in the 1930's until his untimely death in 1948. Rosini was a master magician and had no equal. His brilliant magic coupled with his sparkling sense of humor, and compelling personality, made him one of conjuring's highest paid entertainers!

In addition to Rosini's life story, detailed explanations...

2007 / 5 / 6
$19

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Bob Gill
Magic As A Performing Art by Bob Gill

Bob Gill has succeeded in producing a practical guide to the literature of magic for performers, students and librarians. This was, and still is, the only bibliography of performing magic in the English language to contain fully annotated entries evaluating the literature. It includes many rare and difficult to find publications, excluding material only of doubtful merit. It lists and describes over 1000 books and pamphlets on conjuring published up to 1975. Each book listed contains a description of contents and an assessment of value to performers, as well as bibliographical details.

The...

2007 / 5 / 28
$19.95

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Robert Harbin
Robert Harbin Interview by Robert Harbin

Martin Breese interviewed Robert Harbin on March 26th, 1977, not even one year before Harbin's untimely death. The interview took place at Harbin's home in London, England.

Spend 90 minutes listening to Robert Harbin - one of the world's most creative illusionists and inventors. Here is the full life story of the man who invented Zig Zag and a number of other illusions that will be performed by magicians over the years to come. Since making the recording Robert Harbin became ill and died. The words spoken on this tape were used as the basis for The Robert Harbin Book published by Martin Breese....

2007 / 6 / 24
$14

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MP3

John Scarne
The Amazing World of John Scarne by John Scarne

The Amazing World of John Scarne holds revelations and experiences in gambling, magic, carnival and show business; together with startling disclosures about hypnotism, extra-sensory perception and other mental effects.

The once world's number one expert on gambling tells in this no-punches-pulled, startlingly frank book the whole inside story of gambling, and reveals all the dodges, gimmicks and tricks used by cheaters at dice, cards, roulette and other games of chance. His sensational revelations extend also to magic and escape tricks, to the chicaneries of carnivals and even to the blasting...

2007 / 7 / 14
$19

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Chris Wasshuber
Samuel Cox Hooker and his Rising Cards by Chris Wasshuber

Dr. Samuel Cox Hooker's Rising Cards have been an unexplainable fascination for nearly a century. Hooker first showed his effect in 1914, and in 1993 and 2007 John Gaughan gave abbreviated performances. Nobody who has seen the Hooker Rising Cards performed has ever been able to explain how such effects can be accomplished. This includes the most notable and most knowledgeable magicians from past and present. How can, from a borrowed and shuffled deck, any card called for rise in the fairest possible manner on a well lit stage only a few feet from the spectators?

This work is not just about...

2007 / 10 / 7
$39

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PDF

Dai Vernon
Malini and his Magic by Dai Vernon

This is a gorgeous and careful digitization of a classic originally published by Harry Stanley in 1962. All drawings have not simply been scanned and included as images but have been converted to vectorized graphics. This means they are crisp and clear even under the largest magnification as well as when printed out.

This PDF ebook has very detailed bookmarks making it easy to browse to your section of choice.

Max Malini was one of the most extraordinary personalities in the history of the performance of magic.

In this ebook, Dai Vernon shows how successfully Malini acted the role of magician and...

2008 / 1 / 30
$14.90

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PDF

Dagmar Mussey & June Barrows Mussey
A Magical Upbringing: Collected Letters and Articles from June Barrows Mussey by Dagmar Mussey & June Barrows Mussey

Purchase this ebook together with The Amateur Magician's Handbook and receive an immediate $10 discount!

If I ask: "Do you know June Barrows Mussey?" I get a blank stare. If I continue: "you know Henry Hay?" then suddenly the response is: "Certainly. He wrote The Amateur Magician's Handbook."

June Barrows Mussey, alias Henry Hay was a remarkable man who had a magical upbringing. Imagine, a boy of just 14 years old going on an international magic tour in the U.S. all by himself; a year later he went alone to Europe, the Dutch authorities made great trouble when he wanted to enter their country because they felt he was too young. His parents and particularly...

2008 / 8 / 5
$15

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Ben Robinson
The MagiCIAn: John Mulholland's Secret Life, 2nd Edition by Ben Robinson

The only biography of the master magician and spy instructor John Mulholland.

"John Mulholland is surely one of the most fascinating personalities in magic history. For his work to advance conjuring as a recognized art, he deserves tremendous respect, and no serious student of magic will want to skip this book." - Michael Claxton, Magic Magazine, Feb 2009.

"I can even imagine him up in heaven huddling with Christopher, Houdini, Blackstone and Thurston as they discuss your biography. Their applause is loud enough to be heard on planet Earth." - Maurine Brooks Christopher

"I am an avid reader of books, all types of books, but not since...

2008 / 9 / 25
$19.99

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Harry Stanley
Harry Stanley Interview Volume 1 by Harry Stanley

In the world of Magic there are few people who have made such a substantial contribution as Harry Stanley. This is volume one of four. In these four volumes hear the story of 25 years of Unique Magic.

These four volumes are packed with memories from the fertile mind of Mr. Unique himself. If you were a personality on the magical scene during the 40's, 50's and 60's you are bound to be mentioned somewhere. Lots of information about the famous Unique Studio, the Gen Magazine and people like Johnny Hart, Al Koran, Alan Alan, Ken Brooke, Lewis Ganson, Orson Welles, Slydini, Channing Pollock, Chan Canasta.

This is a licensed reproduction...

2008 / 11 / 15
$9

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MP3

Harry Stanley
Harry Stanley Interview Volume 2 by Harry Stanley

In the world of Magic there are few people who have made such a substantial contribution as Harry Stanley. This is volume two of four. In these four volumes hear the story of 25 years of Unique Magic.

These four volumes are packed with memories from the fertile mind of Mr. Unique himself. If you were a personality on the magical scene during the 40's, 50's and 60's you are bound to be mentioned somewhere. Lots of information about the famous Unique Studio, the Gen Magazine and people like Johnny Hart, Al Koran, Alan Alan, Ken Brooke, Lewis Ganson, Orson Welles, Slydini, Channing Pollock, Chan Canasta.

This is a licensed reproduction...

2008 / 11 / 15
$9

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MP3

Harry Stanley
Harry Stanley Interview Volume 3 by Harry Stanley

In the world of Magic there are few people who have made such a substantial contribution as Harry Stanley. This is volume three of four. In these four volumes hear the story of 25 years of Unique Magic.

These four volumes are packed with memories from the fertile mind of Mr. Unique himself. If you were a personality on the magical scene during the 40's, 50's and 60's you are bound to be mentioned somewhere. Lots of information about the famous Unique Studio, the Gen Magazine and people like Johnny Hart, Al Koran, Alan Alan, Ken Brooke, Lewis Ganson, Orson Welles, Slydini, Channing Pollock, Chan Canasta.

This is a licensed reproduction...

2008 / 11 / 23
$9

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MP3

Harry Stanley
Harry Stanley Interview Volume 4 by Harry Stanley

In the world of Magic there are few people who have made such a substantial contribution as Harry Stanley. This is volume four of four. In these four volumes hear the story of 25 years of Unique Magic.

These four volumes are packed with memories from the fertile mind of Mr. Unique himself. If you were a personality on the magical scene during the 40's, 50's and 60's you are bound to be mentioned somewhere. Lots of information about the famous Unique Studio, the Gen Magazine and people like Johnny Hart, Al Koran, Alan Alan, Ken Brooke, Lewis Ganson, Orson Welles, Slydini, Channing Pollock, Chan Canasta.

This is a licensed reproduction...

2008 / 11 / 23
$9

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MP3

John Mulholland
Quicker Than The Eye by John Mulholland

This is a wonderfully readable and fascinating description of magic and its history. Written by one of the scholars of magic - John Mulholland. Ben Robinson, the expert on John Mulholland whom he researched for more than 30 years, writes in his introduction to this ebook:

"Quicker Than The Eye was John Mulholland's second book, and the first under solely his own name. It is a tale of adventure and creativity. The pages abound with names, dates, and thrilling stories of the great names in stage conjuring. It is an almost anecdotal history told in an easy-going, very readable style. Professionals today,...

2009 / 4 / 8
$12

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John Calvert
John Calvert's Story Volume 1 by John Calvert

Here is one of magic's most fascinating personalities giving the secrets of how he achieved everything that every young magician would wish to achieve. How magic earned him a luxury cruise ship, a luxury private airplane and stardom on TV, the theater and many movies.

John takes us back to his early days and tells how his career actually started when he produced an egg from the pocket of a young friend whilst at Sunday School. You'll hear how a little bit of magical-style misdirection got him his first big break teaching Clark Gable card moves for a film; Clarke fluffed it all and Calvert...

2009 / 4 / 9
$14

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John Calvert
John Calvert's Story Volume 2 by John Calvert

This is the second volume of John Calvert's Story. Sit back, relax, and listen to a life full of magic. Learn from one of the greatest and most successful magicians of all time.

(See here for Volume 1.)

This is a licensed reproduction of the famous Magicassette and MagiCD series created by Martin Breese - now owned by Lybrary.com.

2009 / 4 / 9
$14

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MP3

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