Issued in conjunction with the 1998 PBS series of the same name, The Art of Magic takes an eclectic look at the history and development of stage magic. Like the series, the book is more inspirational than informational — laden with gorgeous, full-color reproductions of rare magic posters, photographs and prints, leafing through his volume is a joy. Unfortunately, the book is a little light on content, and suffers from remarkable flaws, including the absence of an index and some staggeringly bad historical errors. The most obvious error is the illustration of a chapter devoted to Alexander Herrmann — a magician noted for pioneering the top-hat and tails image of a magician — with posters depicting Claude “The Man Who Knows” Alexander, a turbaned vaudeville mentalist. Notwithstanding these problems, given the outstanding production values of this book, The Art of Magic remains a worthwhile investment. In recommending The Art of Magic, we’ve obviously opted for form over substance — but isn’t that what magic is all about?
Copyright 1998-2001 Gary R. Brown