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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Magicians of old » » How Convinced Are You by The Secret Life Of Houdini? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Colin Mandel
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I just purchased this the other day, and it looks like a very interesting read.

My question is just how convinced were you by it's arguments?




Colin
mtpascoe
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Good post. I am not sure if I believe the Andy Rohan story. I don't think that the Chicago episode came down that way. But, maybe there are new info that wasn't around when Gresham wrote his book.

Bill, how much of this book is true? What's your opinion?
Bill Palmer
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It's hard to say. I read the whole thing, and I wasn't as convinced about certain parts of it as the authors were.

It was not uncommon for any government to debrief high profile performing artists after they went overseas, particularly into areas that were problematic for us.
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MagicalArtist
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I haven't read it, but I am very skeptical. Dozens of authors have written about Houdini's life over the years, and nobody uncovered any of this information. Now that most of the major players in Houdini's life are dead, all these new allegations come up. That means no one is left to either confirm or deny the allegations. Seems a mite suspicious to me.
Gerry Walkowski
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Other magicians have told me that the word on the street is that the authors have embellished (read too much into)their own research with the hope of having someone turn their book into a movie.
Bill Palmer
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Quote:
On 2008-12-25 21:25, MagicalArtist wrote:
I haven't read it, but I am very skeptical. Dozens of authors have written about Houdini's life over the years, and nobody uncovered any of this information. Now that most of the major players in Houdini's life are dead, all these new allegations come up. That means no one is left to either confirm or deny the allegations. Seems a mite suspicious to me.


If you haven't read it, then how can you judge it? That's the same way that fundamentalists excoriate the Harry Potter books.
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JRob
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There was a certain amount of plausibility to the books assertions. To me the issue hinges on the State Department issuing him a new passport (showing him being a natural born US citizen as opposed to being naturalized as his original one [which was still valid] showed) on the eve of his foray into Germany. Why else would they have done that? Assuming that they did For this reason I tend to lean a little in favor of the authors' thesis.
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Bill Palmer
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There are a number of minor inaccuracies in that section of the book. One is that whoever wrote that particular chapter referred to Hungary as being part of the Austrian Reich. That's not really accurate. It was called the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Even though the capital was in Vienna, the Empire (or Reich) really spanned both countries, as well as some smaller states which still belonged to the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

If you go to Budapest today, you will still see remnants of this old time.
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JRob
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Quote:
On 2008-12-27 15:47, Bill Palmer wrote:
There are a number of minor inaccuracies in that section of the book. One is that whoever wrote that particular chapter referred to Hungary as being part of the Austrian Reich. That's not really accurate. It was called the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Even though the capital was in Vienna, the Empire (or Reich) really spanned both countries, as well as some smaller states which still belonged to the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

If you go to Budapest today, you will still see remnants of this old time.

Those kinds of things are why I am only leaning in favor of their thesis and not totally sold on it. If they are botching verifiable facts like that, how do we know they are not misreading other things.
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Dave Dorsett
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Having read a large number of Houdini texts, discussing things with Sid Radner, Pat Culliton, Kevin Connolly and others as well as working with the (now defunct) Appleton Houdini Museum, I have to say I put very little stock in the "Secret Life" assertions.

Anyone who traveled as widely as Houdini during war years would be de-briefed by governmental agencies. Anyone as high profile as Houdini would have access to people at almost every level of government- Heck, Teddy Roosevelt sought him out! The fact of the matter is, Kalush & Sloman chose one possible interpretation of some events in Houdini's life. Another author with another concept to develop yet another book on Houdini could interpret all of the same events an entirely different way.

If you want to take a look at what I consider the best overall Houdini look, check out Ken Silverman's book "HOUDINI!!!" Based on what I've learnwed over the years, it is, in my opinion, the most factual.
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magicusb
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The best books on Houdini are the 1-Silverman book (though not sure about the wife of Jack London escapade which may have been put in to sensationalize) , 2- the Christopher book, and 3- the Gresham book. And for the fun of it and 4- the legend building by Houdini's wife and Houdini in the book by -Kellock.

The Kalush & Sloman has many fictionalized conversations that never happened that are made up, which in all fairness the writers warn you of at the start of the book.

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nathanallen
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Quote:
On 2008-12-27 00:46, Bill Palmer wrote:
...If you haven't read it, then how can you judge it? That's the same way that fundamentalists excoriate the Harry Potter books...


Yeah, but that is okay because Harry Potter is evil. This I know. For the Fox News tells me so.

I have a layman friend who bought the Secret Life of Houdini for me. But he got curious and decided to read it first. So I haven't cracked the cover yet... Should be interesting to see how a member of the general public reacts to the book.
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Kevin Connolly
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Quote:
On 2009-01-23 01:54, nathanallen wrote:
Quote:



Yeah, but that is okay because Harry Potter is evil. This I know. For the Fox News tells me so.



It could be much worse. You could be believing in what MSNBC is telling you. Luckily no one watches it.
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jkesler
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Kevin...You are so right...I think more people would rather watch paint dry than be forced to watch a MSNBC program. MSNBC was up for sale last year as part of GE's attempt to cut it's losses; Maybe tey are waiting for a gov bailout....lol
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Lol... I actually enjoy watching both, for very different reasons.
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critter
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It depends on how you define "convinced."
I think the spy angle was plausible, but not incredibly likely.
On the whole, I really enjoyed the book.
The part about Bess' shenanigans with the medium after Harry's death were particularly interesting to me, because I read this "Supernatural encyclopedia" at the library that still claims that Bess legitimately heard that message.
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magicnewswire
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You might enjoy our interview with one of the authors (William Kalush) as he talks at length about the book and his research:

http://www.magicnewswire.com

(Just click on Bill's name in the center column)
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basic_mystifier
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Book was a good read, however don't know if I can make myself believe it ALL. ( Finished it last night)
mrmagician
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Kevin,
It is not MSNBC, it is BSNBC.

To All other Respondents,
Ref: Kalush / Sloman, SECRET LIFE OF HOUDINI,
If you purchase the Houdini Laid Bare set, you will receive a companion book that gives the footnotes and sources of the information on the pages therein. This does help substantiate the story.

They have proven Houdini was tied to the government. It is your place to disprove it.

Then you have other magicians that were tied to their governments, which makes the story more believable. Magicians such as Robert Houdin, Kalanag, and Jasper Maskelyne. I am sure there are others you can add to the list.
Garry Hayes
Kevin Connolly
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I like it BSNBC. LOL!
Please visit my website.
www.houdinihimself.com

Always looking buy or trade for original Houdini, Hardeen and escape artist items. I'm interested in books, pitchbooks and ephemera. Email [email]hhoudini@optonline.net[/email]
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