Magic Is Dead: My Journey into the World's Most Secretive Society of Magicians

Magic Is Dead: My Journey into the World's Most Secretive Society of Magicians

In the vein of Neil Strauss’ The Game and Joshua Foer’s Moonwalking with Einstein comes the fascinating story of one man’s colorful, mysterious, and personal journey into the world of magic, and his unlikely invitation into an underground secret society of revolutionary magicians from around the world.Magic Is Dead is Ian Frisch’s head-first dive into a hidden world full...

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Title:Magic Is Dead: My Journey into the World's Most Secretive Society of Magicians
Author:Ian Frisch
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Magic Is Dead: My Journey into the World's Most Secretive Society of Magicians Reviews

  • Lashaya Marie

    Just as Madison, Ramsay and others brought Ian into the magic community and the 52 Ian makes you feel like your there. An inside look at the history of magic both past and present , from card sharks to illusionists and consultants and the era of YouTube and technological magic. It’s A deeply personal journey and I felt like I was right there, from Blackpool to Las Vegas to the dark room poker games and smoke filled casinos with his mom and meet ups all over the world.

  • Joe Jones

    A cool peak behind the curtain at Magic’s young guns blazing a new trail for magicians. As a bonus we get to see the secrets behind some of the tricks and the process of what goes into creating an original one! A fascinating read for anyone with the smallest amount of interest in magic or who still has that childlike sense of wonder about the world.

  • David V.

    Received as an ARC via my employer Barnes & Noble. Started 1-25-19. Finished 1-31-19. Well-written book about the history of "Modern" magicians--the young and brash street type; the fast-talking, tattooed fast-moving type; the creative, no-nonsense straight up deceptors who see magic as a way of life and a psychological process, not just entertainment. These are the ones who are constantly looking for new techniques and inventing new tricks. The author also explores "the52", a secret society

    Received as an ARC via my employer Barnes & Noble. Started 1-25-19. Finished 1-31-19. Well-written book about the history of "Modern" magicians--the young and brash street type; the fast-talking, tattooed fast-moving type; the creative, no-nonsense straight up deceptors who see magic as a way of life and a psychological process, not just entertainment. These are the ones who are constantly looking for new techniques and inventing new tricks. The author also explores "the52", a secret society of new magicians, each with a card suit tattooed on the side of their middle finger. He tells about how some tricks are done, but doesn't give away too much, just enough to arouse your curiosity. Because of his book, I've been watching videos of many of the magicians he mentions. Fascinating!!

  • Sean Gibson

    If you’re anything like me, it means that 1) you possess a mind that might charitably be described as "unusually obfuscated"; 2) you have my condolences; 3) you smell terrific; 4) like a bird flying into a window, your nose has inadvertently come into contact with more than one hard surface by virtue of the impressive degree to which it protrudes from your otherwise proportional face; and 5) you’ve been mistaken on at least one occasion for a professional dancer, leading you to believe that the

    If you’re anything like me, it means that 1) you possess a mind that might charitably be described as "unusually obfuscated"; 2) you have my condolences; 3) you smell terrific; 4) like a bird flying into a window, your nose has inadvertently come into contact with more than one hard surface by virtue of the impressive degree to which it protrudes from your otherwise proportional face; and 5) you’ve been mistaken on at least one occasion for a professional dancer, leading you to believe that the wedding DJ who made that mistake was likely a) sight-challenged; b) a terrible judge of quality dancing; and c) far too freely availing himself of the open bar during working hours.

    It also means that you have an abiding love of magic and secret societies.

    Frisch’s account of modern magic is also a memoir of his own spiritual journey and his grappling with who he really wants to be in the wake of his father’s death when Frisch was a teenager, and it’s simultaneously fascinating and a little disappointing.

    It’s fascinating in that it illuminates a subset of young magicians whose innovative approach to social media and brand management is transforming what has become a somewhat hokey and hackneyed profession and making it relevant, and perhaps even expanding its popularity, for a modern age. The characters behind the movement are compelling, at least in how Frisch portrays them—flawed people for whom magic has been a lifeline, or at least a means of bettering their situation in an otherwise challenging life. There’s a sense of camaraderie and kinship that pervades their interactions at conventions or over drinks at a bar, and the added allure of many of them being members of a secret society—the52—creates a pervasive air of mystery that hangs over the whole enterprise like a storm cloud ready to burst…

    And therein lies the disappointment, though it’s a disappointment that has little to do with the narrative itself or the individuals involved (though it’s obvious at points that Frisch is really reaching to say something profound, painfully self-aware of the need to make his journey through the magical underground Important and Meaningful and all sorts of other words that become more impressive when you capitalize them). The disappointment derives from the fact that, despite the tremendous skill and dedication of all involved, and despite their ability to create genuinely baffling “wow” moments for people, they’re ultimately just a bunch of people obsessed with doing card tricks, specifically trying to come up with new spins on tricks that have been around for decades.

    That’s not to disparage what they’re doing, mind you—the creativity and aptitude these magicians display is awe-inspiring. If you’ve ever tried to do any sleight of hand, you know how difficult it is to pull off effectively, and these folks make it look effortless on a level that truly does seem magical.

    But, when you start talking about magic…about secret societies…there’s always the hope that there really is something more. Something unknown and unknowable. Something truly inexplicable happening. That there is a cabal of people somewhere in the world who have knowledge the rest of us don’t, and access to abilities we can only dream about.

    And, well, maybe there is. Maybe Frisch knows and he’s just not letting on. Maybe he hasn’t gotten in deep enough and he’s still in the dark like the rest of us. But, that underscores the problem with diving into this kind of subject—the unknown (and perhaps unknowable) is always going to be more interesting than the known.

    It’s a little bit like a present you’ve been told will be the best one you’ve ever received. Before you open it, that box contains a myriad of possibilities. When you open it, it contains one. And while it may indeed be the best gift you’ve ever received, it’s likely that your imagination can conceive of something you could have received that would have been even better, which means that even the best present in the world is better before you open it and know what it is.

    This is an entertaining and engaging read for those interested in magic subculture, but be prepared to walk away feeling a little bit disappointed, a little bit cheated, a little bit flim-flammed, and a little bit annoyed (so, it’s basically the literary equivalent of a conversation with me).

  • Dustin Manning

    Really enjoyable. As a lover of magic and magic theory / history this book was a nice addition to Magic’s bibliography. It’s historical approach is simple and direct without covering too much of the same old ground, a real tight look at card manipulation and it’s history in gambling was a nice approach. Not only that but the fast forwarding into today’s very fresh internet ( Instagram ) approach to how to renew and invigorate young magicians was interesting. Also as to not be a dry history, the

    Really enjoyable. As a lover of magic and magic theory / history this book was a nice addition to Magic’s bibliography. It’s historical approach is simple and direct without covering too much of the same old ground, a real tight look at card manipulation and it’s history in gambling was a nice approach. Not only that but the fast forwarding into today’s very fresh internet ( Instagram ) approach to how to renew and invigorate young magicians was interesting. Also as to not be a dry history, the author truly gives a very personal touch about growth and individuality; all the players involved are lovingly handled. Recommended

  • Casey

    This is an interesting blend between a journalist's experience getting close to the young magic community and memoir exploring Frisch's father's death and his mother's poker habits. I can't lie, I teared up a few times.

  • Audra Falk

    I was disappointed in this book. It had some interesting stories about different magicians, but the research itself, though good, couldn't overcome the narration. I found that the author inserted himself way too much into the story. Much of it concerned his own personal journey into the world of magic. Honestly, it just didn't interest me. An equally large part of the book was just the author gushing over his favorite star magicians and how honored he felt to be their friend and invited into

    I was disappointed in this book. It had some interesting stories about different magicians, but the research itself, though good, couldn't overcome the narration. I found that the author inserted himself way too much into the story. Much of it concerned his own personal journey into the world of magic. Honestly, it just didn't interest me. An equally large part of the book was just the author gushing over his favorite star magicians and how honored he felt to be their friend and invited into their club.

    There was too much telling instead of showing. If you don't respect Criss Angel as a magician, show it to the audience. Don't create a footnote calling him "hyper-cringeworthy". Or better yet, don't insert your own opinion and trust your audience can come to their own conclusions.

    I was equally disappointed with Alex Stone's "Fooling Houdini," so it's possible that I am just looking for a different kind of story on magicians.

    Also, I gave up in Chapter 10 of this book, so all of this review only pertains to the first 9 1/2 chapters.

  • Avolyn Fisher

    I debated about whether this book should be 3 or 2 stars, but ultimately remembered that Frisch is a journalist, so the bar is understandably higher, and his writing just didn't live up to expectations. I lost track of the number of times he said 'moreover' and had people saying, 'Duuuude!' to his various tricks.

    As other reviewers have noted, the biggest flaw of the book is that it neither addressed the World's Most Secretive Society of Magicians, and it really never explains how Ian got the

    I debated about whether this book should be 3 or 2 stars, but ultimately remembered that Frisch is a journalist, so the bar is understandably higher, and his writing just didn't live up to expectations. I lost track of the number of times he said 'moreover' and had people saying, 'Duuuude!' to his various tricks.

    As other reviewers have noted, the biggest flaw of the book is that it neither addressed the World's Most Secretive Society of Magicians, and it really never explains how Ian got the initial invite into the society. Don't get me wrong, he discusses the moment, but really never explains to the reader how he got into their good graces in the first place. He didn't become a magician really until after he was inducted into the group. The only hints we get are the repeated claims of Madison and others, 'Don't forget dude, you're playing an important role in this group, you're just as important as anyone else, you can tell our story.' Never mind that this story is one they don't want told, in order to maintain the status of a 'secretive' society.

    I hate to even say this, but I am just going to say it anyway....given the premise of Frisch tragically losing his dad at 13, and the understandable emotional scaring that was left from that, this book really feels like Frisch seeking the approval that he can't seek from his father. Most of the book is the magicians he encounters being stunned and amazed by his beginning tricks. Not that I don't believe this really happened, but it just felt cringy and ultimately the book lacked a large amount of substance. Nothing really ever develops, we are just taken from scene to scene of Frisch fan-girling over magicians, them showering him with praise, and him explaining his first few tricks he learned.

    However, I will say I enjoyed the ending, which involved an exchange with a homeless person. That part was a gem....but I wouldn't say the book in its entirety was a gem.

  • Jay

    The description is super misleading. The book is somewhere between autobiography and just random stories over the course of a year for some guy and his magician friends. "The World's Most Secretive Magic Group" or whatever is never explained, only just who is in it which...seems not so secretive.

    The writing was poor, and the story telling was awkward. Most had to do with other magicians validating the author's attempts at magic. It was just a really jumbled, cringey book.

  • Campbell Andrews

    Abandoned. Promises intrigue but immediately devolves into descriptions of videos and the writer’s acquaintance with celebrity.

    The tone here is like my 11-year-old trying to interest me in his latest hobby.

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