Harry Houdini: The Legend of the World’s Greatest Escape Artist is a comprehensive biography of the famed magician and illusionist. It tells Houdini’s story: his birth in Hungary, immigration to the United States, poverty-ridden childhood, development as a magician, personal relationships, amazing feats, foray into cinema, interest in defeating spiritualists’ quackery and enigmatic death. The story touches on Houdini’s Jewish background; he was born Erich Weiss and his father was a rabbi. The book includes rich archival historical images and modern illustrations that further flesh out Houdini’s story. It is, in fact, jam-packed with information. The book is best digested broken up into small anecdotes. The many sidebars tell factual information about a myriad of subjects including immigration, child labor in the U.S., old time dime museums and spiritualists. The stand-alone sections put Houdini into an historical context. This thin, exciting biography packs a punch. It is recommended for ages 9 and up.
Dina Weinstein is a Richmond, Virginia-based writer.