Preserving Mystery

By Jamy Ian Swiss
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Preserving Mystery

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Book or download by Jamy Ian Swiss (Book $35.00 or download for $26.25)

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Preserving Mystery - magic
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Vanishing Inc. Magic publishes many books—more, in fact, than any other magic publisher today—and we’re proud of all of our titles. But Preserving Mystery is an important book, one that will be studied and discussed long after most books fade into the periphery. We are exceedingly proud of this collection of essays by the inimitable Jamy Ian Swiss.

Jamy Ian Swiss is many things to many people: award-winning performer, esteemed lecturer, outspoken critic, erudite historian, pioneering skeptic. But he is, above all, one of magic’s most important voices—a lifelong advocate for the art. As a book reviewer and feature writer for Genii magazine for 18 years, and now a reviewer and blogger at the Lyons Den for, Mr. Swiss has long provided readers with a fire hose of insight, provocation, and humor, and while his critiques are occasionally scathing, they are invariably earnest. In Preserving Mystery, Swiss turns his focus to the performance of magic, and how to improve and elevate the art and its artists.

Reading Swiss’s work, we find ourselves pushing through the boundaries of our field to new terrain. He brings the sensibilities of past masters to the present day, and with wit and personality, he gives us a path to enlightened performance.

Preserving Mystery includes an introduction by New Yorker contributor and best-selling author Adam Gopnik, including:

“Making Introductions” - A rumination on how we learn, the value of books and videos, and where the magic industry leads magicians astray.

“Suiting Repertoire” - Swiss explores the hidden value in laying a broad, sturdy foundation in your study of close-up magic, and how, precisely, to find the right move or trick for the right occasion.

“The French Drop” - In an unexpected turn, Mr. Swiss thoroughly dissects and describes (including illustrations) the hackneyed French Drop, providing valuable lessons not only for this sleight, but in how to approach every facet of your magic.

“SSSS: The Swiss Sleight Study System” - This, perhaps the most utilitarian essay in Preserving Mystery, is a roadmap on how to learn sleight-of-hand magic with cards and coins.

“Preserving Mystery” - In the most personal essay in this collection, Swiss reflects on his own path to magic, and then zooms out to ponder how all of us might deepen the magical experience.

Contents of Preserving Mystery

  • Foreword by Adam Gopnik
  • Cannon Fodder
  • Hacked to Death 
  • What Works 
  • How Do We Insult Thee? Let Me Count the Ways 
  • Critical Thinking 
  • Email from a Friend 
  • Dichotomies: Mentalism versus Mental Magic 
  • Escape Artistry
  • Yesterdays
  • Al Flosso: Coney Island Fakir 
  • IMAM! 
  • The Skinner Touch 
  • A Giant Among Us 
  • Presto: A Grand Master
  • A Magician Prepares
  • Making Introductions 
  • Suiting Repertoire 
  • On the French Drop 
  • Gaffs versus Skill 
  • SSSS: The Swiss Sleight Study System 
  • Preserving Mystery

Jamy Ian Swiss books

270 pages, hardbound with gold foil engraving.

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Customer reviews for Preserving Mystery



Jamy Ian Swiss is a terrific writer. His prose is elegant and compelling, and his essays are insightful and thought provoking, full of personal stories that reflect profound love for the art of magic and his erudite knowledge on this history and practice of magic. This volume contains 18 essays on various subjects ranging from evolution in the perception of magic to importance of originality and respect, to the significance of contribution of Old Masters such as Skinner and Presto. The writing has an air of nostalgia for the greatest magic, and brings into focus the principles that will improve any repertoire. My favorite essays are on the "Gaff vs Gimmick", "Swiss Sleight Study System" and the essay that gave the title of the book. I would recommend to buy this book, as there is real value in revisiting each essay.



This is a book that I keep coming back to time and time again. I am a huge fan of Jamy Ian Swiss’ writing, even though we disagree on a vast number of topics. My favorite things in this book are the French drop (I love coin magic) and the Swiss Sleight Study System. Jamy’s passion oozes out of every page he writes, and I am so thankful for his input.



This is a weird book. Some of it I love, some of it less so. So 50/50. There is some enjoyable parts where I felt I learned a few things. Some of it seems self-absorbed elitist ranting. Can't say I recommend this. Would have been happy to read this In an online blog. But 35 bucks. Nope.



this book was very interesting to start,
i had a hard time putting it down.
unfortunately, just like any good book or movie, if the ending sticks it retroactively kills the rest of it.
i reach the end of the book to be met with a lengthy rant about politics, had nothing to do with the rest of the book, it was just some guys opinion piece that you would find in a news paper.
sadly that made my final moments with it un-enjoyable.


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