• Magic Is Dead

  • My Journey into the World's Most Secretive Society of Magicians
  • By: Ian Frisch
  • Narrated by: Charlie Thurston
  • Length: 10 hrs and 23 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (170 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In the vein of Neil Strauss’ The Game and Joshua Foer’s Moonwalking with Einstein comes the fascinating story of one man’s colorful, mysterious, and personal journey into the world of magic and his unlikely invitation into an underground secret society of revolutionary magicians from around the world.

Magic Is Dead is Ian Frisch’s headfirst dive into a hidden world full of extraordinary characters and highly guarded secrets. It is a story of imagination, deception, and art that spotlights today’s most brilliant young magicians - a mysterious club known as the52 that is revolutionizing an ancient art form under the mantra Magic Is Dead.

Ian brings us with him as he not only gets to know this fascinating world, but also becomes an integral part of it. We meet the52’s founding members - Laura London, Daniel Madison, and Chris Ramsay - and explore their personal demons, professional aspirations, and what drew them to their craft. We join them at private gatherings of the most extraordinary magicians working today, follow them to magic conventions in Las Vegas and England, and discover some of the best tricks of the trade. We also encounter David Blaine; hang out with Penn Jillette; meet Dynamo, the UK’s most famous magician; and go behind the scenes of a Netflix magic show. 

Magic Is Dead is also a chronicle of magic’s rich history and how it has changed in the internet age as the young guns embrace social media and move away from the old-school take on the craft.

As he tells the story of the52 and his role as its most unlikely member, Ian reveals his own connection with trickery and deceit and how he first learned the elements that make magic work from his poker-playing mother. He recalls their adventures in card rooms and casinos after his father’s sudden death and shares a touching moment he had as a working journalist with his childhood idol, Shaquille O’Neal. 

“Magic - the romanticism of the inexplicable, the awe and admiration of the unexpected - is an underlying force in how we view the world and its myriad possibilities,” Ian writes. As his journey continues, Ian not only becomes a performer and creator of magic - even fooling the late Anthony Bourdain during a chance encounter - he also cements a new brotherhood and begins to understand his relationship with his father, 15 years after his death. 

Authored with psychological acuity and a keen eye for detail, Magic Is Dead is an engrossing tale full of wonder and surprise.

©2019 Ian Frisch (P)2019 HarperCollins Publishers

What listeners say about Magic Is Dead

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A beautiful and personal story

I know Ian. So I won’t pretend this review is unbiased in any meaningful way. What I can tell you with absolute certainty is that Ian can write! And this book was so infused with whimsical narrative that it’s easy to forget we’re real people he’s writing about. But then he grounds each of us in the realities of our day to day lives, and makes us look and feel human again. And that became the best part for me; riding along with him through all of it. Seeing this World of Magic through his eyes had the very strange and unexpected effect of making it even more magical for me. Well done, Ian.

4 people found this helpful

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Not for me.

This book is less about a secret society and more about a group of very talented "content creators." If people who brand themselves and use youtube and instagram to pay the bills sounds interesting, you might enjoy this but I found it pretty boring. There is some cool history of magic and interesting backstories of some of these magicians but the author seemed to be really focused and impressed by the business of content creation and by his own incredible journey of going from a writer for Vice to a writer for Vice who made up his own magic trick.

6 people found this helpful

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Not what I expected

This is mainly an autobiography. Nothing against the author, but I expected more about the world of magicians and how they performed their illusions and less about his personal life.

1 person found this helpful

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amazing

great book great narrator made you feel like you are inside a secret society just great writing amazing.

1 person found this helpful

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Magic is dead is quite magical

This follows a new age of magic, cardistry, and illusionist. The book was very enthralling though detail laden, the narrator really pulled it along. it was a good book and I will be buying a hard copy!

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Waste of Time

Profiles in douchebags. Daniel Madison is the chief of them and Ian Frisch his scribe.

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Wow.

Not to come across as over zealous, but this book hit me in the feels. As a learning magician to hear that feeling of pride when providing that experience for someone, that moment of amazement. It took me for a ride.

I wish that Ian had narrated so you could feel more in the voice. But all in all, amazing book!

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Narrator is Horrible

I really want to hear the story. I will buy the book and read it myself. The narrator is horrific. He tries to mimic too many voices and just ruins the entire flow of the prose.

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The dead arises...

Magic, especially card magic, has been a passion of mine since the 1970’s. But, I slipped away from it for a while. Then I found this book...it brought me back. By writing such an interesting story and introducing me to a new generation of sleight of hand artists, I became hungry again. I love everything about this book...Ian Frisch’s relationship with his parents, his new magician friends and the journey he takes you on with them as guide is so fascinating. I love what this new group of artists is achieving. Thank you, Ian, for letting me know about them. I’m back with my close up pad and my decks of cards, following along with likes of Madison, Ramsay, London et al. It’s a great feeling. I owe it to your book.

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Read Steve Spill's I Lie For Money instead

As someone who is a professional magician and loves magic in all forms, I found this book lacking. It had a few interesting and touching moments, but more moments of my mind wandering as the book wasn't holding interest. It felt to me like the author took what could've been a very interesting magazine article and tried to add enough content to fill out an entire book.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-13-22

Gripping from start to finish

Absolutely amazing listen highly recommend to Magicians and interesting to see where people come from

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 10-31-21

brilliant

this was a great listen, having met many of the people mentioned on this book it felt so familiar to me and offered a great story.

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  • Jacob L.
  • 09-01-21

Too cool for school

I tried desperately to like this, but it really struggles to hit home. It is an insight into a very hipster world of magic, some true heavyweights are included but it is lost in it's own search for philosophy whilst trying to be cool. The narration is also among the worst I have heard, the pronunciation of words is incorrect in places and the accents are excruciating. If you can tolerate them there is some interesting magic theory discussed, but it lacks a spark.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-16-20

great insight into modern magicians

a fantastic and engaging look into the world of modern magic and the people pioneering it.

i bought this on a whim thinking it would just be about magic and a bit of fun. it turned out to be about some of my favourite magicians. their lives and their work.

would be enjoyed by anyone who is into magic. or youtube and what it has done for modern communication.

only reason its not 5 star is some of the accents used werent fantastic to listen to but thats probably because I'm a brit so hearing british accents done like that wasnt ideal but it did make clear who was speaking so that is a plus.

5/5 for material.

3/5 for the reading.

4/5 overall and a solid will listen again

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  • Paul Moody
  • 05-28-19

Magic is indeed dead

I loved this book.
I am on a journey into deception & sleight of hand myself, so I have been (intently) following basically the entire cast of this book (sans your Mum, Ian. That might be a bit strange). From this angle, it was FANTASTIC to hear a more 'colloquial' version of these peoples stories.

Anyway, I could go on for pages and pages about this, so I'll just sum up;

Passionately derived,
Eloquently written,
Buy this book.

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  • SoMrHarris
  • 04-30-19

Going Underground

As an avid fan of magic and a performing mentalist, I'm obviously going to be biased towards liking this book. That said, I did have a few criticisms. Firstly, at times the book goes off on a tangent and we spend chapters hearing about the author's upbringing etc. Secondly, some of the accents (mostly British) attempted by the narrator were painful, and at times distracting. We're talking some stereotypical British accents. That said, I enjoyed the book but I would certainly think this is one for magicians and magic fans rather than the average listener.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-09-19

A cinematic style biography of a secret world.

Ian Frisch is a brilliant writer that created such a cinematic quailty to the world and characters involved. Just like a movie, he make sure to draw, hook and lead you into a world of mystery. With facts, history accurate timeline of events happening. The biggest question after the end of the story is what is 52 is going to do as a group. In all, i hope J.J. Abrams would consider to do a TV series or movie that is base of this book. Because the back story of each characters' separate connecting life stories brings so much different emotions. From Chris talk about the war veteran to Daniel internal fight, equality in woman rights and to the world of unsung inventors of magic.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-03-19

Amazing

The book is incredibly well written. Such a beautiful view into the underground! The narrator's accents are hilarious mind you. His attempt at Daniel Madison of Bradford, England, sounds more Irish than anything.