Conjuring Asia: Magic, Orientalism and the Making of the Modern World
The book Conjuring Asia explores four major themes in the development of what we call magic: white or black magic, and Oriental or Western magic. Black magic is the idea that some supernatural force, being, or influence is performing an otherwise impossible feat. White magic is sleight of hand, deceptions, and trickery but not supernatural. Western magic tends to embrace white magic, the unknown and the mysterious. The impossible really comes from the Orient. The author traces these themes from about 1805 to about 1930; a period called the Golden Age of Magic. It is a history of how those four themes rose and fell and, to some extent, how they influence us even today. The Indian Rope Trick, for example, was probably originally Chinese and done with a chain, and it may never have been performed at all. Some of the tricks of the magic age are detailed, but the author stays away from explaining most magic performances. This is not a how-to-do-magic book but a historical treatise. It is exceedingly well researched and footnoted, with the footnotes allowing for easy additional study. The book gives the reader a great fundamental understanding of what and why magic is what it is today.
Cambridge University Press