In “The Secret Life of Houdini,” authors Bill Kalush and Larry Sloman posit that Harry Houdini was a secret agent for the U.S. government during certain points of his career. Houdini would hate knowing that another magician has him beat — allegedly.
Another recent book, “The Last Greatest Magician in the World” by Jim Steinmeyer, dives into the life of Howard Thurston and how he won the “battle” with Houdini to be the era’s greatest magician. Those stories, as crazy and intriguing as they are, may have nothing on a British magician who fought a war.
Cracked.com recently featured a compelling story about Jasper Maskylene and how he used magic to actually fight Nazis during World War II. After reading how Maskelyne allegedly developed gadgets, ruses and more to defeat the Nazis, it made the opening scenes of “Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell,” by Susanna Clarke, seem downright journalistic.
From cricket bats loaded with saws and shovels to a deception that involved moving an entire harbor, the stories are fascinating and engaging — even if they may not be true.