The mysterious art of magic has been a source of wonderment since before the time of Christ. Shape shifting between the supernatural practices of 'real' magic and demonstrations of dazzling illusion, magic has been used to conjure the evil eye, burn villages to the ground, slice women in half, and save men from being crushed to death by five tonnes of cement. Robert Ralley's history takes us deep into this magical underworld to reveal the astounding stories of some of the world's greatest magicians. From the astrology of the three wise men to Harry Houdini's escapology, and David Blain's endurance tests, Ralley illustrates the changing perceptions of magic and the dangerous balance between illusion, fraud, and devilry that still exists today.
"A solid overview of a very complex subject, Ralley turns to history, sociology, religious studies, and anthopology to demonstrate that the various definitions and understandings of magic have always resisted easy categorization."
– Michael Ryan - Assistant Professor of History, Perdue University