Review: The Right Way To Do Wrong

Harry Houdini apparently liked to write about the sorts of things you would expect Harry Houdini to write about: showmanship, magicians and their ethics, and ways that the public is fooled. The Right Way To Do Wrong collects some of these writings, including excerpts from the book of the same name.

It is always fascinating to see the ways that people deceive one another, both for mutual amusement in performances and in predation.  Houdini’s success was rooted in his research and understanding of both kinds of deception that informed his practice of the harmless form.  Right Way lets him share much of that knowledge with us here in his future.

Right Way is fairly short and the brevity helps quite a bit.  My experience with books exposing or dissecting flim-flam is that they tend to be longer and more exhaustive than I care for.  Both Randi’s The Faith Healers and Barnum’s The Humbugs of the World are catalogs of deceptions.  Right Way does not organize the information it presents under guiding principles any more than the others, but its brevity means that more of the repetitive cases are dropped.


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