In the most comprehensive biography written about the great illusionist yet, author Ken Silverman, who has won both a Pulitzer and a Bancroft prize, draws on never-before-used scrapbooks, personal diaries, court transcripts and hundreds of unpublished notes and letters collected from around the world to reveal a far richer, more personal view of Houdini than ever before. While Silverman focuses on the magic and miraculous escapes that made Houdini a legend and the most celebrated, highest-paid performer of his day, he also delves deeply into Houdini's fascinating personal life. He explores Houdini's many friendships with politicians and celebrities like Jack Dempsey, Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas Edison, Jack London, the Astors and others. He looks into his traumatic encounters with anti-Semitism; his close-knit family; his strange and troubled relationship with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; and his bitter war against spiritualism. He also uncovers new revelations about Houdini's secret affair with the widow of a famous American writer.