Linking Rings: William W. Durbin and the Magic and Mystery of America
Kent State University Press, 2004 - 315 pages
"So how to tell of the life of a magician whose vocation was politics? A simple biography was out of the question. All of the hard research led to an idea. Why not travel back in time for one night to meet the old wizard himself in a car ride that actually did take place at the end of his life? Once there, he could tell his story directly to one of his descendants--a transference of family memories that just may have had national significance. Surely a magician could accomplish such a meeting." --from the Preface
David Copperfield had this to say about Linking Rings.
William W. Durbin, businessman, political activist, and professional magician, was a major figure in Ohio politics during the first half of the twentieth century, serving as the powerful head of the Ohio Democratic Party and as a senior official in the U.S. Treasury under Franklin D. Roosevelt. Durbin's story is that of a political maverick who knew how to manipulate behind-the-scenes activities, especially in Ohio's political arena. He was instrumental in William Jennings Bryan's near-defeat of William McKinley in Ohio, and two decades later he helped Woodrow Wilson reach the White House.
Although Durbin's vocation was politics, his passion was magic. One of the nation's premier magicians, who performed on stage as "The Past Master of the Black Art," he was the first elected president of the International Brotherhood of Magicians, a professional organization that has grown since its first convention in Kenton, Ohio, in 1926 to number more than 15,000 members today.
Imaginatively told and thoroughly researched, Linking Rings is an engaging biography narrated by James D. Robenalt, Durbin's great-grandson, who places himself with Durbin in a long car ride back to Ohio from Washington, D.C., in February 1937.
Fans of magic and those interested in political history will find Linking Rings an engrossing read.
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Durbin is still looking out the window at the circus as we pull out back onto the
National Road , set to climb the highest mountain of our journey . “ I never forgot
that magician and the dagger , ” he says . “ All summer long I thought about it .
At one point Wilson thought his cause hopeless and actually instructed his floor
manager to release his delegates . The message was never communicated to the
delegates . Slowly , monotonously , Wilson gained strength . Finally , on the forty
He believed that with another two years of hard work , he could regain the use of
his legs , and he had no intention of running for any office in 1928 . Smith ,
however , thought Roosevelt would be a formidable candidate , an upstate
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