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Topic: The Complete Jarrett
Message: Posted by: montemagic (Feb 20, 2007 07:41PM)
I have seen this book mentioned in a few posts, anyone have a review they could give on it?
The Complete Jarrett
available from:

Much appreciated.
Message: Posted by: escherwolf (Feb 21, 2007 02:47PM)
I'm not at home at the moment, but I'll try to write up a full review when I get home. Jarrett was a brilliant illusion builder, both for magicians and carnival sideshows (for instance the spider with the head of a beautiful woman). Jarrett describes his illusions and gives his opinions on magicians that he dealt with.
For my money the opinions and anecdotes make for some of the most interesting reading in the book. Jarrett appears to be rather abrasive and arrogant. He has something to say about many of the big illusionists of his day, and he plays rough. This is not a man to couch his language in niceties - if he didn't like someone he wasn't slow about saying so. This book is a must for anyone who loves the history of magic, keeping in mind that the reportage is first hand but biased.
Message: Posted by: montemagic (Feb 21, 2007 03:04PM)
I would love to hear more, thanks so much for your time!
Message: Posted by: silverking (Feb 21, 2007 04:53PM)
This book contains Jim Steinmeyers annotations to the original "Jarrett". These are no lightweight annotations. With Steinmeyer being the foremost illusion designer out there, his thoughts on a past master like Jarrett are priceless. Steinmeyer brings much clarity to Jarrett's already clever thinking.

Jarrett himself was exceptionally brilliant as a magical thinker, although by books end you realize that he was a bit of an odd duck in life.

Quite frankly, if you're into illusions you simply can't be without this book. Much of the writing Jarrett did highlighted for the first time some large illusion principles that magi now take for granted. You could pretty much go anywhere on the Strip in Vegas today and find Jarrett's original principles being used on the largest magic shows. Some of Sigfreid and Roy's large illusions were based on Jarrett originals. Illusion designers still look to Jarrett for ideas when designing major illusions.

Much of the Jarrett personality comes across clearly, and much of that is simply based on the fact that Jarrett himself didn't suffer fools lightly. Even if you were his boss Howard Thurston, if Jarrett didn't think you had much upstairs he didn't hesitate to say so.
Jarretts take on Thurston is a lot different than what you may have read elsewhere. He thought Thurston was a bit of a dolt and says so MANY times in the book.

Even though I'm into cards and close-up, this is one book that I'll never part with!

Message: Posted by: escherwolf (Feb 21, 2007 05:50PM)
I agree with Silverking - the book is highly recommended. I have my copy in front of me now - I'm not sure what the current edition is, but mine is a 1981 edition published by Magic Inc. It runs to about 185 pages and is hardbound. As Silverking points out, there is much additional material by Jim Steinmeyer, including a detailed biography of Jarrett's life. I even remember buying it back then from a magic shop that no longer exists and being warned that Jarrett's use of language was "colourful".

Steinmeyer's biography takes him through his early days with T Nelson Downs, Harry Kellar, and Howard Thurston (who Jarrett despised). It covers his time working on broadway shows, working at Martinka's, and being on the original staff of Ireland's magic company.

Jarrett considers many illusions of the day, while also presenting his own opinions on them. When he speaks of the sawing in half, he also presents his own improved version, as well as a sawing an egg in half (lady is put into an egg which is then duly sawn in two). He also speaks about carnival attractions.

Don't expect full blown blueprints or instructions on how to build the illusions in question. Jarrett speaks of them with a critical eye but isn't attempting a how to build type manual. Steinmeyer's annotations makes many of the illusions clearer where Jarrett's descriptions are lacking.

His personality comes through in his writing - he was convinced of his own genius, opinionated and perhaps a little nuts. When he speaks of the illusions he often can't help himself from sniping at performer's of the day that he didn't like - Thurston and Houdini are both popular targets.

Like Silverking, I prefer close-up to big illusions, but I wouldn't part with this book. Go get it!!!
Message: Posted by: montemagic (Feb 21, 2007 07:42PM)
Thanks guys, I will order this from Mr. Steinmeyer at the end of the week. Sounds very interesting.

Message: Posted by: montemagic (Jun 4, 2007 10:34AM)
I never got back to this, but wanted to say that you were both absolutely correct. This is a great book!!! His personality and the picture that is painted of the performers of the time is just great, not to mention the principles and illusions discussed. A wonderful book.
Message: Posted by: Hypnotic Winter (Jun 7, 2007 03:17PM)
It is indeed a fantastic book, it has a special place in my library, and as you most likely found out, it holds a few surprises.

Message: Posted by: Peter McMillan (May 17, 2018 02:34PM)
I purchased a green cover copy. I then found photos of a blue cover edition. Is there a difference in the editions? Having bought this book, would it be advisable to also have the original 1981 Jarrett, or would that be redundant on the information side.

Message: Posted by: thomasR (May 22, 2018 11:45AM)
After reading "the complete Jarrett" I think you'll have a good idea if you want the former edition or not. It's definitely redundant, since there won't be any new tricks or explanations. But you may like the idea of seeing Jarretts book laid out in a different way, polished up, etc. I only have the Complete Jarrett, and while I don't feel a need to have the former edition, I think it would be fun to page through it at least and see how it's laid out and see if a few explanations are clearer.

Really great book, I ordered mine a couple of years ago when I bought Conjuring Anthology and only recenty got around to reading it. Truly fascinating and its really fun to recognize ideas that I've seen used by penn & teller, Copperfield, etc.
Message: Posted by: Peter McMillan (May 22, 2018 11:49AM)
Thank you for the help Thomas.

Any ideas about the Complete Jarrett in blue and green cover?

Message: Posted by: thomasR (May 22, 2018 04:07PM)
Mine is dark blue with a light blue spine. It says first edition, 2001 inside.