Final Sťance: The Strange Friendship Between Houdini and Conan Doyle

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9781573928960: Final Sťance: The Strange Friendship Between Houdini and Conan Doyle
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This is the story of an unusual friendship between two of the most intriguing characters of the early 20th century--renowned escape artist Harry Houdini and celebrated mystery writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (creator of Sherlock Holmes). Both men were fascinated by the occult practice of spiritualism, Houdini as an ardent skeptic who often publicly exposed fraudulent mediums and Conan Doyle as a true believer who became convinced that the dead could and did communicate with the living.

Despite their differing perspectives the two men not only respected each other but became friends. The correspondence between them on the subject provides a fascinating glimpse not only into the personalities of two talented and interesting celebrities but also into a psychic phenomenon that is the ancestor of today's channeling craze.

Based on original correspondence, photographs, and his own extensive research, Massimo Polidoro reconstructs this unusual friendship between a believer and a skeptic, which weathered mediums, seances, an apparition of Houdini's departed mother, automatic writing by Conan Doyle's wife, public debunkings, and hurt feelings. He also discusses the final rift that ended the friendship of the two strong-willed men. Fans of Conan Doyle, Houdini, magic, and the historical roots of the "New Age" will be delighted by this amazing story.

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This is the story of the unusual friendship between two of the most intriguing individuals of the early twentieth century--the renowned illustionist and escape artist Harry Houdini and the celebrated mystery writer and creator of Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Both men were fascinated by the occult practice of Spiritualism, Houdini as an ardent skeptic and Conan Doyle as a true believer who was convinced that the dead could and did communicate with the living. While there are many biographies of both men, this is the first book to detail the years of their friendship and their battles over the veracity of Spiritualism.

During their five-year friendship, Houdini and Conan Doyle exchanged views about Spiritualism; conducted investigations of notable mediums of their day, such as Mina "Margery" Crandon; and even enjoyed vacationing together at Atlantic City.

Based on original correspondence, photographs, and his own extensive research, noted science writer Massimo Polidoro reconstructs the relationship between the believer and the skeptic, which weathered mediums, seances, public debunkings, and hurt feelings. He also discusses in detail the final seance that ended the friendship between these two strong-willed men. After this seance, Houdini declared that "there is nothing that Sir Arthur will believe that surprises me," and called his ex-friend "a bit senile . . . and therefore easily bamboozled." Conan Doyle, in turn, accused Houdini of being biased, a publicity-seeker, and a victim of a syndrome he called "Houdinitis," meaning the belief "that manual dexterity bears some relation to brain capacity."

Fans of Conan Doyle, Houdini, magic, and the historical roots of the "New Age" will be delighted by this amazing story.

About the Author:

Massimo Polidoro is executive director of the Italian Committee for the Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal, editor of Scienza & Paranormale (Science and the Paranormal), and author of twelve books on the paranormal.

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