• Fooling Houdini

  • Magicians, Mentalists, Math Geeks, and the Hidden Powers of the Mind
  • By: Alex Stone
  • Narrated by: Alex Stone
  • Length: 9 hrs and 14 mins
  • 4.0 out of 5 stars (234 ratings)

1 title per month from Audible’s entire catalog of best sellers, and new releases.
Access a growing selection of included Audible Originals, audiobooks and podcasts.
You will get an email reminder before your trial ends.
Your Premium Plus plan is $14.95 a month after 30 day trial. Cancel anytime.
Fooling Houdini  By  cover art

Fooling Houdini

By: Alex Stone
Narrated by: Alex Stone
Try for $0.00

$14.95/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.

Buy for $31.93

Buy for $31.93

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Publisher's Summary

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 and populated by a fascinating cast of characters: from his gruff mentor, who holds court in the back of a rundown pizza shop, to one of the world's greatest card cheats, who also happens to be blind. Captivated, he plunged headlong into this mysterious 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 century-old magic societies to cutting-edge psychology labs; three-card monte on Canal Street to glossy Las Vegas casinos; Fooling Houdini recounts Stone's quest to join the ranks of master magicians. As he navigates this quirky and occasionally hilarious subculture, Stone pulls back the curtain on a community shrouded in secrecy, fueled by obsession and brilliance, and organized around a single overriding need: to prove one's worth by deceiving others.

But his journey is more than a tale of tricks, gigs, and geeks. In trying to understand how expert magicians manipulate our minds to create their astonishing illusions, Stone uncovers a wealth of insight into human nature and the nature of perception. Every turn leads to questions about how the mind perceives the world and processes everyday experiences. 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.

©2012 Alex Stone (P)2012 HarperCollins Publishers

More from the same

What listeners say about Fooling Houdini

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    97
  • 4 Stars
    77
  • 3 Stars
    37
  • 2 Stars
    17
  • 1 Stars
    6
Performance
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    91
  • 4 Stars
    55
  • 3 Stars
    40
  • 2 Stars
    12
  • 1 Stars
    6
Story
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    92
  • 4 Stars
    62
  • 3 Stars
    33
  • 2 Stars
    12
  • 1 Stars
    5

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

I suppose the author thinks he's clever

God, I really wanted to like this novel. I really did. I wanted to see a thoughtful, informative examination of the magician's world. This book skims the interesting details and techniques of magicians and instead focuses on - of all things - the narrator's life as a student and an aspiring magician. I could not possibly care less. I wanted a book in the style of Mary Roach, what I got was a personal life journey. Personal details stand in place of logistical and technical details and the story of how magicians dedicate decades to their craft simply slips away. Sure, there's a few conferences and interesting characters in here, a little about psychology that I found interesting. But overall, the content is simply not there.

Moreover, the author narrates his own book here. That is almost never a good idea. He's not a compelling reader, giving pauses where they aren't needed, lacking good inflection and not punching up the audio to give the best experience. In an interview at the end he has the gall to suggest that no one else could read his book because of how personal of a story it is. It's audacious, and the book isn't that interesting to begin with. Sorry, Mr. Stone.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

This is a Memoir

You'll learn a lot about Alex Stone and magicians. But very little about mentalists, math geeks, and the hidden powers of the mind. Since the subtitle is what convinced me to buy the book, I was very disappointed. If you're a budding magician, though, you'll probably enjoy this. I just wish this book about deception didn't have such a deceiving title.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Self-important drivel

Not at all impressed with this book. The author seems very full of himself. I was hoping to learn more about the works of magic but it approaches the subject like anyone who believes anything is an idiot. Actually, everyone is an idiot. I could not make a connection with this book.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Fooling Myself: Broken and Restored Ego

I'm disappointed. This book panders to the desire of those who like to feel smart without being inconvenienced by having to gain real understanding. The author makes inaccurate assertions and repeats them in case they were missed the first time. Maybe as a result of recounting his blunders, he finally figured out that the audience is important. Or he got a good editor. Editors are undervalued.

The author seems lost as to what magic is about. His claim that he didn't know until well into his journey into magic that it isn't solely about technique but about engaging the audience is bizarre. Had he never seen anyone perform? Had he only seen disjointed tricks? Had he never read a book?

He claims to have fought back and triumphed over the SAM after his resignation from the organization had been requested. But once again it seems like he cares more about technique than about his audience. Sure, you may be able to threaten your way into not being kicked out of a group, but what does membership matter if you've made certain that everyone knows that you're unwelcome?

His gaffes include referring to the Richard Turner Bicycle cards as the Richard Turner Mandolin Backs. The Richard Turner cards are Rider Back cards. They're ubiquitous. The Mandolin Backs exist but are different. I've never seen them in the wild. This is so sloppy.

Returning to his lack of awareness, he haphazardly reveals some magic tricks seemingly out of the blue, apropos of nothing. One of the greatest things about learning magic is that interest can be sparked and lead to reading where things come from and how they were developed. The amount of source material available is effectively endless. And reading even the most essential books that the author does mention in his book allows for a change in perspective and an understanding of how techniques can be applied in broader areas. But simply giving the answers as to how some mentalism stuff is done, for example, is cheap and robs people of the chance to investigate. Teasing and provoking thought is good, but that's hard to do. Flatly laying out methods is clumsy, but that's easy.

So I'm disappointed. I feel tricked. I feel taken advantage of. The flashy title is really just clickbait. And I fell for it. I thought the book would take me on a journey. But he reveals the secrets of his experience: He's hopelessly lost, and he doesn't even know it.

Erdnase writes in the preface to his own book that no matter who reads it or how it affects its readers, "if it sells, it will accomplish the primary motive of the author, as he needs the money."

It's debatable whether or not that line was written in earnest in the case of Erdnase, but it seems very applicable to this book.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Way more diversity of content than I expected

This book combines personal narrative, instruction, history, moral exploration, deep thinking, and educational elements. Stone revealed a world I'd never known existed and turned many of my perceptions of the world I DO know on their heads. Magic is inextricably linked with psychology, neuroscience, mathematics, crime, much of American history, and the birth of dollar stores, among many other things! I was pleasantly surprised by the author's candidness and originality of thought. I was delighted that so many of my own questions about magic were answered! It ended too soon but has caused me to begin researching the subject for myself. I can't recommend it enough nor to too many people. The book has injected a new liveliness in my daily conversations! Magic really is a universal delight.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great insight into the life of a magician

Those last two negative reviews don't make any sense. I don't think they were listening to the same book. The author has a lot of interesting and detailed information collected on his journey to becoming a well rounded magician. He also does a great job narrating his own book.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

enjoyable!!

inspired me to get back into magic. this book did that for me . thanks

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Super interesting

Hard to put down. Well narrated by the author. One of the most interesting books that I have read in awhile.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Completely enjoyable!

Any additional comments?

Alex Stone was a great narrator! You could really hear the excitement in his voice. It was educational as well as entertaining. A great read!

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Magic?

Would you try another book from Alex Stone and/or Alex Stone?

I did not care at all for this book. The author seemed to be doing a complete turnaround from what I thought the book would be. I thought it would contain learning about magic and the history of magic. Boy did I think wrong.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Fooling Houdini?

I could not even finish it--I thought it was that bad. But different strokes for different folks maybe someone out there who loves math etc will like it.

1 person found this helpful