If you've ever wondered where the rabbit comes from when he's pulled from the top hat, we have a book for you. Card tricks and shell games? Ladies sawed in half? All here.
Alex Stone has been a magic geek since the day his dad gave him a magician's kit — wand included — from F.A.O. Schwarz. He was 5. With that he was off to entertain at birthday parties and bar mitzvahs. He had found his calling.
"Magic is all about nerds playing god with the universe," he writes. "For me discovering the world of magic was like finding my own island of misfit friends, a place where everyone was special in the wrong way."
Stone, who has a master's degree in physics, takes his readers behind the curtain, so to speak. And along the way he weaves in how psychology, physics — even crime — plays into the world of hand tricks.
Who knew, for instance, there's such a thing as the ultra-secretive FFFF - Fechter's Finger Flicking Frolic, the Templars of Magic, the most prestigious group of magicians in the world. Its annual convention is invitation-only. If you get one you've arrived.
You've also arrived if you know when to clap. Most of us applaud at the wrong time, for instance. "Lay people applaud the effects, while magicians clap during the seemingly uneventful moments, when the secret moves occur," Stone writes. "To the untrained eye it's as if the magicians are clapping at nothing."
If you're not that interested in the secretive world of magic, just disappear. But if you're fascinated by odd little corners of society, Fooling Houdini is not only informative, but highly entertaining. Stone has pulled the proverbial rabbit out of the hat.