Monday, November 30, 2009

Book Review: Tricks of The Mind by Derren Brown

Tricks of The Mind is an insight into the sleight of hand, distractive, memory and psychological techniques employed, so effectively in his performances, by the British mentalist and showman, Derren Brown. Whilst this book examines the way in which people's perceptions, attention and beliefs can be manipulated for magical effect, it is not, however, a instructive manual on how to perform such tricks as predictions, disappearances and feats of memory.

In Tricks of The Mind, Derren Brown very skillfully and often humorously examines psychology, illusion and how people can be made to believe things that are not real in a way that hints at how these techniques are used in his shows. This book effectively lets us into the realm of Derren Brown and shows us what a wide range of ideas, techniques and fields of expertise are required to perform such acts.

As a showman of the highest order, Derren Brown does reveal a trick or two early on to lure in his audience, often leading them on to quite philosophical points, but also sometimes ranting in a manner that makes the reader feel like they are sitting next to the author in a bar, discussing the application of manipulative techniques over a beer. As well as showmanship and illusion, Derren discusses religion and the way in which mediums use similar techniques as his to fool vulnerable people and he pulls no punches in letting the reader know what he thinks about such people.

This is a truly fantastic book, engaging at every level, discussing complicated philosphies, techniques and beliefs in an amusing, informative and interactive way using a memorable vocabulary. The chapter on memory techniques is particularly enthralling and I was able to achieve remarkable feats of memory soon after reading the book, indeed I can still remember a list of 20 items given in the book, three months after reading it.

I would recommend this book to a wide variety of thoughtful readers, anyone interested in the way the mind works, philosphy, magic, showmanship, religion, indeed anyone who enjoys challenging ideas and, of course, anyone who wants to improve their memory or get a small insight into how Derren performs his remarkable "tricks".

Score: 10/10

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