• CMTU History

Episode 28: The Life and Afterlife of Harry Houdini

Harry Houdini. Nearly a century after his death, he remains a household name that is synonymous with magic. In fact, Houdini has become a verb in our common vernacular meaning "to vanish, or escape a difficult situation quickly."

Today, I am joined by bestselling author Joe Posnanski to discuss his new book, "The Life and Afterlife of Harry Houdini," which looks at the remarkable career of the world's most recognizable magician and tries to untangle some of the myths surrounding Houdini's life that have even baffled some of his many biographers over the years.

Joe is an award-winning sports journalist and bestselling author whose prior biography on Joe Paterno reached #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. In our conversation, Joe and I discuss how an immigrant named Erich Weiss transformed himself into a legend named Harry Houdini, how he pushed the envelope of danger to become the world's leading escape artist, and what continued to drive Houdini even at the height of his fame and success.

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Key Points in Today's Podcast

Some of the major topics I discuss with Joe in this episode are:

  • The challenges of writing a biography on someone who fabricated much of his personal history

  • Houdini's early struggles to make a name for himself

  • Whether Houdini should rightfully be considered a magician

  • How well Houdini compares to the great magician of our time, David Copperfield

  • Houdini's feud with spiritualists and mediums

  • The people today who chase Houdini's legacy

For the Ever Curious

If you are interested in learning more about Harry Houdini or Joe Posnanski, consider checking out these resources:

To learn more about Joe Posnanski, visit www.joeposnanski.com.

Books by Joe Posnanski:


© 2018 by Can't Make This Up History Podcast.

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