Laurant: The Man of Many Mysteries by Gabe Fajuri
In 1896, Eugene Laurant became a professional magician. 21 years earlier, as Eugene Greenleaf, he was born on the frontier, in the horse and buggy town that was Denver, Colorado.via Squash Publishing
Billed as the “Man of Many Mysteries,” Laurant spent almost 50 seasons on tour. His stage-filling magic show brought wonder and delight to millions of spectators across North America.
The bulk of Laurant’s career was spent not in major metropolitan centers, or hustling, bustling cities like New York. Unlike his contemporaries—Houdini among them—Laurant, for the most part, confined his routes to rural America. It was there that he made his mark. Eugene Laurant was, arguably, king of the small town showmen.
Laurant carried a full compliment of assistants, livestock, baggage and thousands of pounds of equipment-the tools of mystery making-over the rough-and-tumble back roads of America. He logged millions of miles on the road.
His greatest successes were made on the Lyceum and Chautauqua circuits, which enjoyed immense popularity between 1900 and 1920. During those years, Laurant headlined for the most prominent organization in the business, the Redpath Bureau.
Drawing on Laurant’s own unpublished writings, scrapbooks, and new research, this book paints a revealing and complete portrait of this early American magician. From his earliest dime-museum days, to Wild West adventure, vaudeville shows and much more, Laurant: Man of Many Mysteries tells the tale.
When I ordered Laurant as a late Christmas present / “let me get this guacamole seasoning shipped for free” add-on item, I didn’t entirely realize how relevant it would be to the book I’m currently writing. I was somewhat aware of Eugene Laurant as one of the many magicians of the early 20th century, but I didn’t know that his career was mainly as a performer in the Lyceum and Chautauqua circuits. Not only is this book a well-detailed biography of Laurant, but it has lots of crunchy details about the workings of the Chautauqua.
My one beef is that the book is rather slim for the price, but it is a very nice hardback, glossy and full of pictures. Perfect for my second read of the year.
Genre: biography, history
Published: Squash Publishing
Release Date: May 31, 2005
My copy: hardback purchased via Amazon