Harry Lorayne's books on card magic have stood the test of time. Besides being a wonderful entertainer that has provided memorable entertainment to thousands of audiences across the world, he is especially appreciated for his contributions in teaching magic, and his books have a unique ability speak to speak to modern audiences just as they did to the previous generation. He is a very clear writer, with a remarkable ability to explain things in words like very few others can, and he is also a thinker and creator, and is constantly coming up with new ideas and ways to improve old routines.
THE CLASSIC COLLECTION: That's why he decided to embark on a project that would reproduce his best work under the title The Classic Collection, and was published over a ten year span from 2005 to 2014. This is a series of five titles, each of which compiles together several works that he authored, complete with Harry's own "Re-Write, Additions, Decisions, Revisions, Upgrading and Updating". Bound together in five high quality hard cover volumes, these fine books make a definitive statement of quality both inside and out. In the preface Harry explains that he had long wanted to re-write the books from previous decades in order to update and upgrade them, and add to them with some new ideas, without taking away from the originality of the original books. He also wanted to include multiple books in a single volume. Part of this is because he realizes that he was able to write better and teach effects/routines in a more clear way. It's also worth mentioning that some of the original books are long out of print and unavailable independently, so this is a great way of making them readily available - in an improved form. Not all the original books had accompanying photographs, so that's another upgrade. It was a significant undertaking and a lot of work, since Harry didn't just want to reproduce what had appeared previously, but ensure that these were actual improvements on the originals - which they are.
VOLUME 2: The second volume in the series includes three Lorayne titles: Reputation-Makers (1972), Rim Shots (1973), Afterthoughts (1975). Consisting of 451 pages, Reputation Makers includes classic Lorayne routines like The Card Sharp & The Four Gamblers, Snap! and Instant Magic Square. With Rim Shots you get to learn Status Quo Shuffle, The HaLo Cut and related routines, and Amazing Prediction. Afterthoughts includes The Ultra Move, Easy Indicator, Goin' Fishin', and Snappy Flush.
PRINTING QUALITY: The book itself exudes quality the moment you first hold it in your hands. It is a quality hard cover book with embossed white lettering on the spine. The simple colour scheme makes everything look very classy and elegant, and also gives it a tone of complete seriousness. In other words, this is a worthy set of covers for the secrets of card magic that await discovery within, and is exactly how a book of magic secrets should look! An attractive dust cover with a bold and minimalist black and white design completes the presentation. Even that breathes quality, being made out of a glossy paper stock, with the inside jackets full of endorsements for Harry Lorayne and testimonials for his books. Once we open the book, our initial impression of quality is only confirmed. With over 450 pages, there's a massive amount of material here. No shortcuts have been taken on the paper quality, which has the look and feel of what an important volume like this deserves. The binding is especially superb, and it is a real joy to page through the book, knowing that it won't fall apart, and that like Harry's magic, this is a book that is designed to go the distance, and is a durable package that itself oozes class and style.
LAYOUT & FORMAT: The layout and formatting impresses as well. A comprehensive Table of Contents at the beginning of the book gives a good overview of the material in all three books, listing each trick by name along with the page number where it can be found, making it easy to come back to our favourite routines. The text is accompanied by literally hundreds of illustrative photographs, and there are one or two on almost every page. These are well placed alongside the body of the explanation, and provide that essential visual that at times helps you understand the text better. The description for each trick typically begins with a brief introduction about its origin or background, after which Harry goes straight into the performance and method. His explanations make for very easy reading, and it's just as if you're in the same room with him, listening to him talk to you about what to do. From time to time he also suggests appropriate patter. He employs a very conversational style, and his clarity of communication is one of his real gifts for which he has often been applauded as a teacher of magic. Following each trick Harry often concludes with some helpful "Afterthoughts" that offer further reflection, including further ideas or comments that go beyond the explanation of how to perform the trick itself.
DIFFICULTY: Most of these routines have handlings that are well within the scope of the intermediate magician, and aren't knuckle-busting or impossible for the average person to master. For someone like me (an amateur, with an intermediate ability), that's welcome news, and it also means that The Classic Collection is going to be of benefit to many more than merely those who inhabit the upper echelons of advanced card magic.
Even so, for most of the content, a basic ability with standard card sleights is almost essential, since the majority of tricks assume intermediate skills with cards, such as an ability to control cards within a deck while shuffling, as well as standard sleights.
RECOMMENDATION: The Classic Collection is a series of terrific books that ooze class and quality in every respect. I'm also so pleased that the physical quality of these book (paper, binding, cover, formatting etc) matches the quality of their content; these are beautiful volumes that give the wonderful material inside the royal treatment they deserves. I'm very much enjoying paging through Volume 2, which is within easy reach of my desk right now, reading bits and pieces, and I look forward to continuing to explore it in years to come. This classy series can be highly recommended, and I consider myself privileged to be able to learn from the pages of Harry Lorayne's books. - BGG reviewer EndersGame