Houdini's Escapes

Photo of Houdini in the plate glass box
Adoption Amount: $300
Category: Build and Access the Collection
Location: National Museum of American History Library

Houdini's escapes / prepared from Houdini's private notebooks and memoranda

By Walter B. Gibson. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, [c1930].

In 1926, world-famous magician Harry Houdini died of peritonitis following a ruptured appendix. Before his death, he had planned to write several books on varied subjects, including his own career and magical secrets. Fortunately, he had discussed these ideas and shared his notes with Bernard Ernst, president of the Society of American Magicians. Ernst arranged for Walter B. Gibson— a fellow magician, the creator of the pulp fiction character The Shadow, and Houdini's ghost writer— to prepare Houdini’s Escapes.

If you're hoping to learn the secret of the Chinese Water Torture Cell, you’re out of luck. Some of Houdini’s best-known tricks were redacted from this work after review by the Society of American Magicians' Committee on Exposures. But many other tricks are explained, often with illustrations showing how the master magician managed his spectacular escapes. Our first edition copy is housed at the National Museum of American History Library.

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