The Last Greatest Magician in the World
Howard Thurston Versus Houdini & the Battles of the American Wizards
Tarcher/Penguin: 377 pp., $26.95
It takes some courage to write the biography of a man the reading public has mostly forgotten. Yet that's exactly what Jim Steinmeyer does in "The Last Greatest Magician in the World," a biography of the now-obscure Howard Thurston, the illusionist who held the title by acclaim in the 1920s and '30s. It's a clever marketing trick, and a necessary one, to include Houdini's name in the lumbering subtitle, but it's a piece of misdirection that, like many events in this telling of Thurston's life,...