[EconTalk] Joe Posnanski on the Life and Afterlife of Harry Houdini

Joe Posnanski on the Life and Afterlife of Harry Houdini

23/12/2019 by EconTalk: Russ Roberts

Web player: https://podplayer.net/?id=90805415
Episode: http://files.libertyfund.org/econtalk/y2019/PosnanskiHoudini.mp3

Journalist and author Joe Posnanski talks about his book, The Life and Afterlife of Harry Houdini, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Posnanski explores the enduring fame of Houdini who remains an iconic cultural figure almost a century after his death. Topics discussed include the nature of celebrity, the nature of ambition, parenting, magic, and the use of public relations to create and sustain reputation and celebrity.

Listen date: 2020-01-14


  • This Econ Talk episode also went over well-trodden ground – specifically, Adam Smith’s advice on how to be loved and avoiding celebrity. But unlike the previous one, this episode was magical – it had very few new themes – maybe none at all, or interesting information – but to listen to Russ Roberts and Joe Posnanki be happy together about Bruce Springsteen and being parents was delightful.
  • Which brings me to another of my long running feelings – that really good writing is the sort that makes me enjoy reading about something I have absolutely no interest in, or prior knowledge of course. There’s a feeling of infectious joy in it. I see that with Beatzo writing about music or art, or in really good sportswriting. Which ties up with this sportswriter talking about wonder.
  • That sort of sportswriting, I believe, is an exception to my growing impression that being a sports fan is kind of like being an alcoholic, and we should socially censure people who spend all their time and attention on a particular sports team.
  • This bit was delightful: “There’s an expression in Hebrew that we say on Saturday morning, hadesh yameinu kekedem, which literally translated means, renew–it’s often translated as–‘Renew our days as of old,’ which is I think not a great translation. But it’s basically saying–and this applies to marriage, it applies to just about everything in life. It’s like remember when you fell in love, when you’ve been married, I’ve been married 30 years, I still love my wife, and, but it’s different.” Judaism has some good stuff.
  • The story of Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio talking about applause is heart rending.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s