The Life and Afterlife of Harry Houdini Review

Review by Matthew

The concept of “Houdini” has grown far more grand than the actual man himself. Former Kansas City Star sports columnist Joe Posnanski explores the divide between the real Houdini and the myths that have grown around him in the nearly 100 years since his death in his book The Life and Afterlife of Harry Houdini.

This is an approachable, fast-paced look into Harry Houdini’s life, but Posnanski also explores the motivations behind the men and women keeping the escape artist’s memory alive – and even a few who wish Houdini would just go away. Posnanski also goes in search of a fascinating, rare Houdini biography written by the world’s leading expert in the field – a book that costs hundreds of dollars and was only printed in tiny quantities.

Disappointingly, Posnanski glosses over an important aspect of Houdini’s life. Houdini was a skeptic who spent years debunking mystics, psychics, and mind readers, but Posnanski admitted the topic “bored” him, so he didn’t include much about it in the book. However, what he did include is a fascinating portrait of a complicated, divisive figure whose life has been shrouded in myths – most of them created by Houdini himself.

Find The Life and Afterlife of Harry Houdini by Joe Posnanski at one of our branches.