New book: In Thurston vs. Houdini rivarly, Thurston was the winner

February 5th, 2011 | Joe Hadsall | Filed Under General


One of the debates we always hear people ask about is about who’s better: David Blaine or Criss Angel? Even though the two magicians haven’t locked themselves into any public rivalry, fans easily join one of the two sides.

New book: In Thurston vs. Houdini rivarly, Thurston was the winnerBack in the vaudeville age, there was a similar battle: Harry Houdini and Howard Thurston. Where Blaine and Angel never acknowledge any sort of battle, Houdini and Thurston competed openly.

A new book argues that, even though history has mainly forgotten him, Thurston was the victor.

Legendary illusion creator Jim Steinmeyer writes at length about Thurston in his new book, “The Last Greatest Magician in the World.” The book gives a detailed look into the illusionist’s life and career, from his con-man and carnival beginnings to his storied performances. According to Kenneth Sullivan of the Wall St. Journal, Steinmeyer also does a wonderful job at describing what a magician’s life was like back in that golden age. You think magician’s have rivarlies now? Nothing like it was back then.

But the battle with Houdini takes center stage. As Sullivan wrote, it’s clear Steinmeyer thinks Houdini won. Because, as he states in this video, Houdini didn’t really seek to be a magician. Though Houdini succeeded at becoming a legend and household name, it wasn’t for his career as a performing magician. Thurston had that covered, with a fantastic illusion show that packed more and more into each repeat performance.

That thought puts an interesting twist on the Blaine vs. Angel debate, doesn’t it?

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