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The Rise Of The Indian Rope Trick

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We assume that the Indian rope trick is a piece of ancient Hindu magic. But think again: it is actually the product of a hoax which appeared in the Chicago Tribune in 1890. This wonderfully researched, playfully written book takes us on a journey through Victorian society where we discover the interest in magic of Charles Dickens; Alfred Russell Wallace; Edward, Prince of Wales; Lord Northbrook and Charles Darwin. We learn how in an age of reason the British came to love all things Oriental and how the legend of the rope trick came to be perpetuated throughout the 20th century as fanatical public figures and aristocrats went to India in search of it and returned claiming to have seen it being performed. This is a charming history book filled with colourful characters, known and unknown, all of whom pursued an obsession. Some were respected members of society, some were incredibly eccentric and utterly deluded. It is set against the background of Victorian society and shows how the writing of history itself can perpetuate myths and legends.
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About the Author

Dr Peter Lamont is a Research Fellow at the University of Edinburgh, working on the history, theory and performance of magic. He is an award-winning magician and a former President of the Edinburgh Magic Circle. He has performed and lectured in several countries across the world. This is his first book for a popular readership.


Adult/High School-A performer pulls out a long rope and, with arcane words and gestures, coaxes it to climb high into the sky without any sign of support. The magician then calls on his young assistant, who climbs the rope until he vanishes from view. When the boy doesn't return, the magician angrily follows after him and carries him down to resounding audience applause. Impossible? Yes. Lamont's fun, informative book details the history of this myth and why so many people wanted to believe in it so deeply. The first "hard" reference came from an eyewitness report in the Chicago Tribune in 1890. Although the journalist printed a retraction a few months later, the fabrication had already captured the attention of U.S. and British readers to the extent that others claimed to have witnessed the trick themselves. Strange and frightening stories developed around the swamis and magi who supposedly performed it and the dangers experienced by those who attempted to discover its secrets. Amid the campy facts, Lamont develops interesting conclusions. The late 1800s brought a rise in science and a growing disbelief in the spiritual side of life, and the tale fulfilled a need within educated Westerners to believe in something that couldn't be explained. The faraway land of India as its origin added a level of mystique. In the end, the author shows that the stories we create about other cultures reveal volumes about ourselves.-Matthew L. Moffett, Northern Virginia Community College, Annandale Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

ADVANCE QUOTE FROM SIMON SINGH: 'A fascinating, quirky and authoritative investigation into the world's greatest mystery' FROM CHARLES ALLEN: 'The Rise of the Indian Rope Trick is enormously good fun -- a fascinating piece of historical detective work' FROM DERREN BROWN: 'Quirky and expertly written' Lamont has finally managed to unravel the bizarre truth behind the world's tallest tale. A wonderful example of how the imagination can create a miraculous illusion - quirky and expertly written."

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