The Secret History of Magic: The True Story of a Deceptive Art

Peter Lamont, Jim Steinmeyer

Research output: Book/ReportBook


If you read a standard history of magic, you learn that it begins in ancient Egypt, with the resurrection of a goose in front of the Pharaoh. You discover how magicians were tortured and killed during the age of witchcraft. You are told how conjuring tricks were used to quell rebellious colonial natives. The history of magic is full of such stories, which turn out not to be true. Behind the smoke and mirrors, however, lies the real story of magic.

It is a history of people from humble roots, who made and lost fortunes, and who deceived kings and queens. In order to survive, they concealed many secrets, yet they revealed some and they stole others. They engaged in deception, exposure, and betrayal, in a quest to make the impossible happen. They managed to survive in a world in which a series of technological wonders appeared, which previous generations would have considered magical. Even today, when we now take the most sophisticated technology for granted, we can still be astonished by tricks that were performed hundreds of years ago.

The Secret History of Magic reveals how this was done. It is about why magic matters in a world that no longer seems to have a place for it, but which desperately needs a sense of wonder.

Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherPenguin Random House
Number of pages368
ISBN (Electronic)9781524704452
ISBN (Print)9780143130635
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jul 2018


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