Audiences Know Showmen Often Lie “as an Act of Self-Promotion”

Showman and medical entrepreneur Martin Couney has been dismissed because he claimed credentials that he may not have possessed. The passage quoted below suggests that this behavior was common for showmen during the late 1800s and the early decades of the 1900s. Perhaps this mitigates what Couney claimed?

(p. C7) But Mr. Begley’s book is indeed brief, offering a brisk passage through the facts so far as they can be known. The accusation Houdini made against Robert-Houdin of “utter disregard for the truth” applied to Houdini with a vengeance; he lied not merely as an act of self-promotion, which could be said about many showmen and performers of his time and our own, but also about things that really didn’t matter.

For the full review, see:

Robert Wilson. “Houdini.” The Wall Street Journal (Saturday, March 14, 2020): C7-C8.

(Note: the online version of the review was updated March 13, 2020, and has the title “Two New Lives of Harry Houdini.”)

The book discussed in the passage quoted above, is:

Begley, Adam. Houdini: The Elusive American New Haven: Yale University Press, 2020.

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