One of my favorite audiobooks is The Secret Life Of Harry Houdini by William Kalush and Larry Sloman. It has one of the best openings to a book I’ve ever heard. As Houdini is describing a rehearsal for one of his buried alive stunts each mention of a shovelful of dirt being tossed on to his face is more powerful than the last. It’s just an incredible (and true) story of a life. The amount of research that has gone into this thing is amazing. In my lifetime I have owned over 600 books on the subject of Magic, Illusion, Theater and Escapology so I’m a pretty tough critic. This is easily in my top 5.
In the book, they explain that Houdini died as the result of several blows to the stomach which in turn caused an internal rupture (sorry folks, he didn’t die in the Chinese Water Torture Cell). They also present however, several interesting additions that they have apparently discovered in their research including an attack on Houdini after the initial incident. I don’t want to give away too much here as you really should listen to the book (which by the way is BETTER abridged as it focuses on the story of his life, more than dates and times).
In April of this year, it was announced that scientists and historians were planning to remove Houdini’s body from the ground in order to determine the official cause of death. This has of course, caused quite the dispute between those who wish to find the truth, and those who prefer the mystery.
I personally think he should stay where he is. I don’t say that for religious, spiritual or even moral reasons (although all 3 are perfectly fine reasons). I say that mainly because I like the mystery. Stories, even true ones, are often an exaggeration of the truth…and I’m perfectly happy with that. I like the incredible life story that I have read time and time again. He spent his entire life trying to find new and exciting ways to amaze people all over the world. It was his mission in life to create wonder and mystery. I personally, have no desire to ruin that mystery.