Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Byr): Vroom! by Barbara McClintock

The Life and Afterlife of Harry Houdini

What's left to be said about Harry Houdini? Curiosity about the magician's enduring fame drives sports journalist Joe Posnanski's fascinating account of Houdini and the immortal legacy he left. Houdini was unquestionably the most famous magician ever to live, and his life and character have been documented in every way imaginable. Gathered together, all of the biographies published on Houdini might fill a library.

As a man obsessed with Houdini, Posnanski (The Soul of Baseball; Paterno) investigates many of the most beloved tales associated with the escape artist and master self-promoter. Even better, he travels the country to visit with strange but wonderful individuals who also find themselves unable to stop thinking about Houdini. For example, there's Dorothy Dietrich and Dick Brooks, two magicians who run a museum dedicated to Houdini in Scranton, Pa. Popular magician David Copperfield guides Posnanski through his personal museum in Las Vegas--complete with Houdini's original milk can and other priceless ephemera. These are but a few of many engrossing moments that make The Life and Afterlife of Harry Houdini such a rare treat. By infusing his own passion for the subject into his reporting, Posnanski reveals the extent to which Houdini still captivates audiences. --Zack Ruskin, freelance reviewer