The Life and Afterlife of Harry Houdini

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About The Book

Award-winning journalist and New York Times bestselling author Joe Posnanski enters the world of Harry Houdini and his legions of devoted fans in an immersive, entertaining, and magical work on the illusionist’s impact on American culture—and why his legacy endures to this day.

Harry Houdini. Say his name and a number of things come to mind. Escapes. Illusions. Magic. Chains. Safes. Live burials. Close to a century after his death, nearly every person in America knows his name from a young age, capturing their imaginations with his death-defying stunts and daring acts. He inspired countless people, from all walks of life, to find something magical within themselves.

This is a book about a man and his extraordinary life, but it is also about the people who he has inspired in death. As Joe Posnanski delves into the deepest corners of Houdini-land, visiting museums (one owned by David Copperfield), attractions, and private archives, he encounters a cast of unforgettable and fascinating characters: a woman who runs away from home to chase her dream of becoming a magician; an Italian who revives Houdini’s most famous illusion every night; a performer at the Magic Castle in Los Angeles who calls himself Houdini’s Ghost; a young boy in Australia who, one day, sees an old poster and feels his life change; and a man in Los Angeles whose sole mission is life has been to keep the legend’s name alive.

Both a personal obsession and an odyssey of discovery, Posnanski draws inspiration from his lifelong passion for and obsession with magic, blending biography, memoir, and first-person reporting to examine Harry Houdini’s life and legacy. This is the ultimate journey to uncover why this magic man endures, and what he still has to teach the world about wonder.

About The Author

Jeff Siner

Joe Posnanski is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Paterno. He is a national columnist for NBC Sports and was a senior writer at Sports Illustrated from 2009 to 2012. In 2012, he was named National Sportswriter of the Year by the Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame. Before joining SI, he was a columnist for the Kansas City Star for fifteen years, and was twice named the best sports columnist in America by the Associated Press Sports Editors. He is the author of four books and has been anthologized widely. He lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with his family.

Product Details

  • Publisher: S&S/Avid Reader Press (October 2019)
  • Length: 320 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781501137235

Raves and Reviews

Praise for The Secret of Golf and Joe Posnanski

"Posnanski demonstrates the ups and down of life and sport to create a work that will resonate with avid golfers and sports fans alike."

Publishers Weekly

"Joe Posnanski is a hall of fame writer and this is a must for anyone who cares about either one of these guys or just golf." —Gary Williams of Golf Channel

"An honest look at how two legends came to golf, rose to dominate it and, at the same time, didn't lose their dignity or soul to the game and ultimately elevated friendship to the highest level." Golf Digest

"Posnanski is an outstanding journalist, arguably the best pure long-form sportswriter in the land." Chicago Sun-Times

"Joe Posnanski is a terrific writer." Entertainment Weekly 

"One of the best sportswriters in America." Washington Times

Praise for Paterno

"Paterno is a portrait very much in three dimensions. It is the story of an extraordinary life." The Philadelphia Daily News

"Paterno adds grain and texture to the historical record.... makes a cogent case for absorbing Paterno's entire legacy." —Dwight Garner, The New York Times

"I urge you to read [Paterno]. . . A life is never defined entirely by a man's good, or by his bad." —Mike Vaccaro, New York Post

"It is exhilirating to read of Paterno the man and gripping to read of his downfall." —ESPN.com 

"The truth is that [Paterno] is a portrait very much in three dimensions. In that sense, Posnanski succeeds…We are left with this book as the final record of the final days. It is more than that, obviously - it is the story of an extraordinary life - but it is most compelling as a chronicle of the end.” The Philadelphia Daily News

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