PositiveThe Times Literary SupplementIn Houdini: The elusive American...Adam Begley is less starry-eyed about the \'peerless self-liberator\' ... On the debate over Houdini’s hypocrisy with regard to spiritualism, Begley uses very similar phrasing to Posnanski but remains more neutral ... On the whole, Begley’s concise and conventional biography is also less interested in searching for significance. Houdini’s stunts \'accomplished nothing. They advanced no cause, proved no point” and were “in a sense … meaningless\'. They fed the showman’s insatiable hunger for attention and kept crowds entertained almost as a side effect. And yet, despite concluding that \'the most useful verdicts are the simplest, verdicts that take Houdini at face value\', Begley doesn’t refrain entirely from psychoanalytical overreach. We are told early on, for instance, that his father’s eventual failure to succeed in the New World triggered in Weisz \'the earliest stirring of his impulse to escape\', and that the 5’4” showman (his exact height, like so many other details, is up for debate) \'affirmed his masculinity\' through impossible jailbreaks in the nude.