Hiding the Elephant: How Magicians Invented the Impossible and Learned to Disappear

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9780786714018: Hiding the Elephant: How Magicians Invented the Impossible and Learned to Disappear
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Now in paperback comes Jim Steinmeyer's astonishing chronicle of half a century of illusionary innovation, backstage chicanery, and keen competition within the world of magicians. Lauded by today's finest magicians and critics, Hiding the Elephant is a cultural history of the efforts among legendary conjurers to make things materialize, levitate, and disappear. Steinmeyer unveils the secrets and life stories of the fascinating personalities behind optical marvels such as floating ghosts interacting with live actors, disembodied heads, and vanishing ladies. He demystifies Pepper's Ghost, Harry Kellar's Levitation of Princess Karnak, Charles Morritt's Disappearing Donkey, and Houdini's landmark vanishing of Jennie the elephant in 1918. The dramatic mix of science and history, with revealing diagrams, photographs and magicians' portraits by William Stout, provides a glimpse behind the curtain at the backstage story of magic.

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About the Author:

JIM STEINMEYER has designed illusions for all of today’s leading magicians including Ricky Jay, for his Broadway show On the Stem, David Copperfield, and Siegfried and Roy, Las Vegas revues, and television specials, and the late Doug Henning. He is the writer and producer of A&E’s four-hour history of magic, The Story of Magic, and author of many books and articles on the history of magic and theatrical effects. He lives in Los Angeles.

From Publishers Weekly:

The success of a magician "lies in making a human connection to the magic." Create an illusion in the audience's mind, and they're hooked. But to understand magicians, we need to understand the art of that creation. Steinmeyer, who has designed illusions for Siegfried and Roy and David Copperfield, presents a cultural history of magic's golden age (from the 1890s to the 1930s), some legendary tricks (including the Levitation of Princess Karnak and Harry Houdini's Disappearing Elephant) and the fierce rivalries that dominated the craft. Steinmeyer reveals certain secrets, which rely on engineering, artistry and sheer chutzpah, but he hasn't betrayed anyone; most of his information has been published elsewhere. What he adds is context. Magicians advertise deceit, then perform it. Unlike political chicanery, which Steinmeyer dubs dishonest trickery, magic is a kind of pure trickery. Audiences pay for a ruse, not a lecture on fraud. Do we believe movie special effects are real? Of course not, but it doesn't detract from our enjoyment. Similarly, while many 19th-century spiritualists were rightfully debunked as frauds and charlatans, audiences loved the antics. Some, such as the Davenport brothers, were a magnet of controversy and a wild hit, successfully mixing "religion, agnosticism, science, superstition, and fraud." Steinmeyer diagrams famous tricks, celebrating their science and ingenuity. Readers meet characters as colorful as their acts. Buyer beware: If you want to keep your illusions, go to Las Vegas. But for magic lovers who revel in learning the magician's art, this book part research study, part salute is a find. 8 pages of b&w photos and diagrams.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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9780760779514: Hiding The Elephant: How Magicians Invented the Impossible and Learned to Disappear

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ISBN 10:  0760779511 ISBN 13:  9780760779514
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9780786712267: Hiding the Elephant: How Magicians Invented the Impossible and Learned to Disappear

Carrol..., 2003
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