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Trade of the Tricks

Inside the Magician's Craft

Graham Jones (Author)

Available worldwide

Paperback, 308 pages
ISBN: 9780520270473
September 2011
$29.95, £24.00
Other Formats Available:
From risqué cabaret performances to engrossing after-hours shop talk, Trade of the Tricks offers an unprecedented look inside the secretive subculture of modern magicians. Entering the flourishing Paris magic scene as an apprentice, Graham M. Jones gives a firsthand account of how magicians learn to perform their astonishing deceptions. He follows the day-to-day lives of some of France’s most renowned performers, revealing not only how secrets are created and shared, but also how they are stolen and destroyed. In a book brimming with humor and surprise, Jones shows how today’s magicians marshal creativity and passion in striving to elevate their amazing skill into high art. The book’s lively cast of characters includes female and queer performers whose work is changing the face of a historically masculine genre.
Graham M. Jones is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
“This book is a celebration and a revelation. Highly recommended.”—Genii Magazine
“[Trade of the Tricks] is a readable, scholarly . . . and personal account of Jones’s two-year journey to understand a community of expertise and secrecy from the inside. . . . The book is not just a descriptive account of . . . various kinds and styles of magic, it is a fascinating account of an anthropologist visiting another world. . . . Jones says that ‘becoming a magician transforms the way one sees the world.’ And the same can be said when reading his book.”—Peter M. Nardi Los Angeles Review Of Books
“By following some of the world's leading magicians and fully participating in the scene as a kind of sorcerer's apprentice, [Jones] shines a light on a male-dominated community that is often trivialized in mainstream culture and yet whose members, he believes, display ‘a level of specialized knowledge comparable to the James Dysons and Steve Jobses of this world.’”—The Independent
“Look beyond the birthday parties and 10-gallon top hats and magicians have a long history going for them. . . . Jones went native with this most magical subculture in order to learn their secrets.”—Maxim
“Studded with humor, insights, revelations about deceptions being created and destroyed. It is a scholarly sophisticated respectful examination of the world of those who amaze others. . . . The miracle of magic still provokes ‘ahh’ and challenges the imagination. This author celebrates the magician’s craft, not craftiness.”—Magicana
"There is a lot to appreciate in this book. . . . It is packed full of stories, anecdotes, and opinion. The book is also an excellent guide to how academics study their subjects, what they are looking for, and how they interpret what they find. The shrewd magician will read it."—Genii Magazine
“Fascinating. . . . [Jones’s] writing is lively and engaging; Trade of the tricks will fascinate specialist and non-specialist readers alike not simply through the inherent intrigue of its French magician subjects, but even more so with the many unexpected insights Jones derived from studying them closely for several years. Jones’s keen appreciation of the craft of magic brims over throughout the book and draws one into his analyses of how magicians learn, perform, interact, form social groups, and earn a living. . . . Captivating.”—Matthew Solomon, University of Michigan Journal Royal Anthro Inst (Jrai)
“This book not only fascinatingly lays bare the craft, mores, sociology, anthropology and tendencies of magic, it also reminds us how magic, in numerous ways, can inform the whole gamut of fields in which . . . readers might be interested. It’s also quite funny.”—Brian Reffin Smith, U.K. Leonardo Reviews
“Graham Jones’ work could shed light on many other cases of ‘secret’ knowledge. This excellent book will be relevant to anyone with an interest in cultural transmission or intellectual property.”—Social Anthropology
“Anthropology has always traded on a cachet of romance and exoticism in attracting students, but even I—grizzled veteran that I am—found myself thinking ‘how very cool to be hanging out with magicians in Paris!’. There is certainly nothing like this book in the anthropological literature. It is fascinating and thoroughly enjoyable.” —Richard Bauman, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Indiana University, Bloomington

“A witty, learned, engaging trip through the world of French magic, Trade of the Tricks builds intriguing ideas on the deep knowledge that comes from prolonged, intensive observation.” —Howard Becker, author of Art Worlds and Outsiders

A documentary by magician-filmmaker Frédéric Tabet about the versatile French magician Mimosa, “Mi-Mosart” conveys the careful thinking behind performances that seem zany and spontaneous, as described in the Introduction.

A film of the author performing during a showcase of novice magicians at a community center in Paris in May 2005. As described in Chapter 1, apprenticeship was a crucial part of developing an insider’s understanding of magic.

“The Real Secrets of Magic,” a short film by magician-director Jean-Luc Bertrand starring David Stone, offers a hilarious take on the trials and tribulations of professional close-up magic described in Chapter 4.

Extract of the film “Les Escamoteurs” by magician-filmmaker Frédéric Tabet based on the stage show of the same name starring Abdul Alafrez, Carmelo Cacciato, and Bertrand Crimet. This clip exemplifies experimental directions in French magic described in Chapter 5.

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