Written by Blaine, the book chronicles the performer's meteoric rise to fame, his history, childhood and recent network television specials... including what he had to do to get his first special with ABC.
Added bonuses to the detailed accounts of the man's life are some of his tricks and a fairly detailed general magic history.
I realize that I've said pretty much nothing about the book, but that's only because it's surprisingly hard to classify. It reads like a continuous blend of history, biography, magic tricks, and personal memoirs. Oh, yeah. There's also a hidden puzzle named "Blaine's Challenge" contained in the text that, when correctly solved, reveals the secret location of $100,000 stashed safely away somewhere in the United States. This is a legitimate contest - not a scam or publicity stunt, which, if nothing else, leaves the reader with something to ponder and dream about.
All of this though, would be unimportant if this weren't a good book, which it is. The first thing I noticed was the great overall look of the book. The hardcover edition weighs in at 214 pages, and is packed full of great, full-page photographs, pictures, and illustrations throughout.
The first couple of chapters deal mainly with the history of magicians and magic, and are fairly comprehensive. But this isn't a history book, and Blaine knows it. He keeps the chapters short, sweet, and even slips in some fun tricks that have nothing to with history to amuse and entertain your friends.
The core of the book is not about magic in general, but about Blaine himself. As a reader, I learned a lot about him and about magicians in general. His story is told in a mostly linear style, revealing how he got from working as a restaurant magician who drove a beat-up Honda, to getting his own million-dollar special on ABC. Along the way, we hear about him meeting Jack Nicholson, and get an interesting story about his travels to South America, where he met members of the Yanomamo civilization, a people who "had a penchant for attacking outsiders with darts".
If there's one recurring theme surrounding Blaine, it's his impressive ability to use magic as "the great equalizer", as he calls it. He gets along with everyone, it seems. Homeless people in New York, people on the street in gangland Compton, the Dallas Cowboys...the list goes on.
The book ends with three chapters about Blaine's most famous stunts: Buried Alive, Frozen in Time, and Vertigo. Readers will get an inside look at the preparation Blaine went through, as well as what he was thinking throughout the duration of all three, the shortest of which, Vertigo, went on for thirty-five hours. Blaine ends by saying he knows this is only the beginning. Personally, I find comfort in that.
The book is targeted at a wide audience, and finds its mark. Anyone who's ever thought about being a magician should read it. Anyone who has seen the TV specials and wants to know more about the man himself, should read it too. And anyone who could use an extra $100,000 and wants to take a crack at "Blaine's Challenge", should read it very carefully.