Howard Thurston vs. Harry Houdini – who is history’s greatest magician?

Feb 21, 2011

Few remember now that at the dawn of the 20th century when magic was still mystery, and a sleight of hand could very well have been the work of the devil as much as a flick of a wrist, two magicians battled it out for the right to be called king. While Harry Houdini thrilled audiences with his death-defying escapes, Howard Thurston captivated the attention of a nation with his grandiose, spectacular shows. At a Howard Thurston show floating princesses, astonishing disappearing acts, illusion, humor, and fast-paced non-stop magic turned what could have been just another early century night into a world of calamity and color. In his new book "The Last Great Magician In The World," equal parts history and biography, Author Jim Steinmeyer uses the rivalry between two great magicians to explore an America caught between a past filled with intimate shows in small dusty towns and an inevitable future where explosive displays of showmanship would serve to light up the dark hearts of towering industrial cities.

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