Something worthy of your attention, and five reasons I love it.
- Over a hundred years ago, Harry Houdini wrote a book about how to successfully commit crimes. Yep. Itâ€™s just as weird as it sounds.
- Houdini came into regular contact with many law enforcement types as he travelled the world performing his escape acts. Many of these police officers, detectives, and judges told Houdini their favorite stories from the years they’d spent on the job. Houdini collected these stories andÂ he presents them here alongÂ with some humorous asides. This book details how to steal a diamond with a piece of chewing gum. It describes a complicated con game involving a person hidden inside a couch, Trojan horse style. It breaks down the routines of successful ‘second story men’. His stated purpose is the education the public so it can defend itself from crime .
- Let’s just get this out of the way: this book is super dated. The crimes he describes wouldn’t work today (most of them, anyway). The writing style is an old-fashionedÂ combination of formal and jokey. For me, that’s what makes this book so much fun. The descriptions of old-timeyÂ pick pockets, con men, and illusionists paint a vivid picture of life at the dawn of the twentieth century.
- The book is divided into two sections. In the first section, Houdini talks about some of his rival illusionists. He reveals their secrets. He mocks them. He tells about the times he publicallyÂ bested them.Â He calls them out, WWE style. The second half of the book is the crime stuff. The edition I read featured an introduction by Teller (of Penn and Teller). Teller wisely points out that the writing styles in the two halves are vastly different. There is a good chance at least part of this book was ghostwritten.
- The book is public domain, so itâ€™s available free at Google Books and other locations. Heck, the complete audiobook is free on YouTube. I think I will embed it below. If this book sounds interesting to you, there is no reason not to check it out.