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Book Review: The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Magic Tricks

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Book Review: The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Magic Tricks
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Tom Ogden’s The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Magic Tricks offers an excellent introduction to magic and a solid foundation to those who want to seriously learn and pursue magic. Like the competing book, Magic for Dummies, Idiot’s Guide is loaded with good beginning tricks, comes with clear instructions and illustrations and is written in a light and entertaining style. But when it comes to magic, Idiots clearly rule over Dummies.

Unlike Magic for Dummies (“Dummies”), Complete Idiot’s Guide to Magic Tricks (“Idiot”) takes the time in its early chapters to provide history; and magic basics on patter, character, clothing, handling problems, picking volunteers and more. It’s a solid primer on starting-out in magic that will appeal to serious beginners. Tom Ogden, Idiot’s author, is an experienced and well respected magic pro.

Idiot’s Guide features lots of good tricks that involve cards, coins, ropes, handkerchiefs and other common objects, and there are also self-working math tricks and basic mentalism. The usual easy card tricks, which include the 21-card trick, four-robbers, a four ace effect, a reversed card revelation and more, are all here. There are also tear-out trick cards for performing certain effects.

Lots of the same effects appear in both Idiot and Dummies that include the torn and restored paper, various predictions and revelations, the disappearing salt shaker, bending spoon, sawing someone with ropes, the bouncing dinner roll, ring off rope, jumping rubber band and more.

Unlike Dummies, Idiot structures its tricks so that they form a beginning foundation in magic. Idiot presents basic card techniques that include false shuffles, making a spectator pick a card and various revelations, as well as vanishing a coin using sleight of hand and palming. There’s even a basic Cups & Balls and Miser’s Dream.

While it’s a standard trick found in many beginning books, I feel that the floating roll trick is too difficult for beginners to perform convincingly and is not appropriate for a beginning book. And because of the conditions under which beginners perform, it’s too risky. Someone is bound to sneak behind them and reveal the secret. Those who know the dinner roll trick won’t recognize the secret in a professional version performed by the likes of Losander and Dale Salwak.

The book takes time to serve historical background and discusses modern day magicians that include Henning and Copperfield, as well as magic in the movies and on television. There are also useful chapters on getting started in the magic business.

In a battle of comparative wits, Idiots wins over Dummies. If you’re just getting started in magic, be an “Idiot” and not a “Dummy.”

-Wayne N. Kawamoto

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