Bill Goodwin Speaks – Three Classic Magic Books

Less than a week ago, many of you sent questions  for Billy Goodwin, the Magic Castle librarian and one of the finest card men in the world. I promised I would get him to answer one of the questions. Here it is………..

From Dave Atkins

To Mr. Goodwin I would ask: as the librarian of the Magic Castle, if some magician was going to make the library disappear, which three books would you try to save before he did it?

I love this question. We decided, for the sake of this discussion, to assume that the Magic Castle library is the ONLY library in the world. We’re not concerned with a given book’s value on Ebay. We only care about the value of the information inside.

Three books blessed by bill…

Here are Billy’s choices in no particular order. He wanted me to stress that this was a very unfair question. Bill is a librarian. He wants to save ALL the books.

Here they are:

  • Expert Card Technique – Hugard and Braue’s classic text was the second book on card magic  I ever purchased. I still haven’t learned everything in it – frankly, no one has. This book, available in Dover paperback, may provide you more value for the money than any other card book ever written.
  • The Complete Walton Volumes 1 & 2 – Already Billy is cheating here. He found a way to save an extra book. What can you do? Roy Walton is one of the kindest men I’ve ever met.  You’ll go back to this book  constantly over years and it will always offer you something new and give you wood for your practice oven.  It also may be the greatest repository of material regarding cover passes and half passes ever created. If you’re interested in material on these two topics, the Complete Walton should be your first stop.
  • The Complete Works of Alex Elmsley Volumes 1 & 2– Like the last entry, this two volume set compiles the complete works (or close-enough) of one of the great sleight-of-hand minds of all time. If you’re only familiar with Alex Elmsley as the creator of the most used and abused false count in the history of magic, you definitely need to acquire these books. They contain tricks of every size, shape and style – a veritable wealth of information.  Again, this is a book that all serious magic students must read.

The first in a series…

Any time Billy talks about magic he says something worth hearing. I’ll be going back to the original post to pick new questions for Billy to answer when I see him. If you want to add a question to the list, go for it. Here’s a link to the post – go leave a comment. 

If you want to see Billy Goodwin exposed at my place, click here.

 

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5 Responses to “Bill Goodwin Speaks – Three Classic Magic Books”


  1. 1 Tony Asher January 17, 2008 at 11:58 pm

    Bill Goodwin? What does he %@#&-ing know about magic?

  2. 2 Scot Smith January 18, 2008 at 12:01 am

    My choices would be

    Absolute Magic (derren Brown)
    Expert at the Card Table (Darwin Ortiz)
    The Complete Course in Magic (Tarbell) Of course they would have to reprint a single volume edition)

    Sorry Aaron, Paper Engine is top 10 but doesn’t quite make my list

  3. 3 Adam Sachs January 18, 2008 at 12:54 am

    Reposting my earlier post at the other spot:

    The challenge here is figuring out the devil in the details of the question. Would all the magicians still be around so we could re-create the fundamental knowledge base (in other words, we’d be able to recruit someone to take a stab at the Vernon works and someone else to take a stab at Slydini (and get it right) and someone else, well, you get the picture . . .)? Would the videos survive? Would all knowledge of magic be wiped out? Depending on how those points sort out, we’d come up with different answers.

    I think the two most interesting questions are (1) if all knowledge of magic was wiped out, what three books would you preserve, and not just for the sake of card magic?; and (2) if all books were gone for now, but the knowledge and videos remain, what three books would you save?

    With the first question, I’d fudge and my answer would be Tarbell, the Card College books (showing my bias for cards) and Thirteen Steps, and regret not saving so many others.

    With the second question, the writings I would hate to lose–books whose authors are dead and that have something interesting to say that may not be said with the same intonation by someone else–would be the Books of Wonder (again fudging), Our Magic, and I’m having a hard time figuring out what the final one would be, as a fair number follow these two.

  4. 4 frmad January 18, 2008 at 9:42 am

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  5. 5 HANKMILLIGAN January 19, 2008 at 12:50 pm

    My top 3 would be:

    (1) Expert at the Card Table (Erdnase) – for technique and thinking
    (2) Close-up Card Magic (Harry Lorayne) – for attitude
    (3) Mnemonica (Tamariz) – for the stack

    It’s interesting that Walton and Elmsley made Bill’s cut. I too like some of the Walton routines. I’ve not yet checked out Elmsley’s writings. After Bill’s endorsement, I definitely will seek out that source some day. Thanks Aaron, thanks Bill.

    Hank Milligan, New Milford, CT


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