When Alex Stone was five years old, his father bought him a magic kit “a gift that would spark a lifelong love. Years later, while living in New York City, he discovered a vibrant underground magic scene exploding with creativity and innovation. Enchanted, he plunged headlong into this mysterious new world, eventually competing at the Magic Olympics and training with great magicians around the globe to perfect his craft.
From the back rooms of New York City’s age-old magic societies to cutting-edge psychology labs, three-card monte games on Canal Street to glossy Las Vegas casinos, Fooling Houdini recounts Stone’s quest to join the ranks of master magicians. In trying to understand how these experts manipulate our minds to create their astonishing illusions, Stone winds up uncovering a wealth of insights into human nature and the nature of perception.
As he navigates this quirky and occasionally hilarious subculture populated by brilliant eccentrics, Stone pulls back the curtain on a community shrouded in secrecy, fueled by obsession and genius, ingenuity and ambition, and organized around one overriding need: to prove one’s worth by deceiving others.
But his journey is more than a tale of tricks, gigs, and geeks. Every turn leads to questions about how the mind perceives the world and processes everyday experience. By investigating some of the lesser-known corners of psychology, neuroscience, physics, history, and even crime, all through the lens of trickery and illusion, Fooling Houdini arrives at a host of startling revelations about how the mind works and why, sometimes, it doesn’t.