The Man Who Was Magic
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The Man Who Was Magic

4.37 of 5 stars 4.37  ·  rating details  ·  219 ratings  ·  30 reviews
Jane lives in the secret city of Mageia, devoted to intense study and competition in Stage Magic. Every form of trick and slight of hand that can be practiced or manufactured. One day Adam and the talking dog Mopsy appear at the gates. Nothing will ever be the same. Adam practices simple MAGIC.
Mass Market Paperback, 191 pages
Published 1968 by Pan Books (first published January 1st 1966)
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Morgan Garner
If I could, I would give this 6 stars, as it's been a favorite since I was about 12, and continues to be so today, through my changing tastes. The idea of a man who IS magic, rather than one who works with magic, or uses magic, is brilliant, and thought provoking. Paul Gallico writes cleanly, the plot is fun, the character development is great, and there are several surprises that make the story worth coming back to again and again.
What would happen if one day a genuine magician with real magic came to a city of illusionists who live entirely in a world of artifice and sleight of hand?

This is one of the very few books that I have read more than once. It left a very deep impression on me the first time round, aged 13 or so, and not just because I got some sort of fictional-character-crush on the girl in the story. It was my first exposure to Paul Gallico's profound gift for the allegorical and, with hindsight, I have to ack...more
Laura Tulloch
I loved the suggestion in this book that nature is magic and there is magic all around us - very earthy and sweet. The main characters Adam and Jane have integrity and honesty in a world of deception and trickery and I love that in the long run they won out.

This book is my all time favourite. It is very special and stands on its own. While written for kids I think it's a fairy tale for grown ups ie: good triumphs over evil - and the goodies live happily ever after. It doesn't always turn out lik...more
Ellen Jaffe
This is a beautiful "fable of innocence," in Gallico's own words -- what is real, what is the nature of magic, what is it to be human and to be creative (just the usual stuff!). A book you can read in one or two sittings -- simple on the surface, and very deep, and a story that holds your interest completely while you are reading, and leaves you with the feeling of a very vivid dream -- "that must have been real...." Thanks to the friend who recommended it to me, and loaned me his copy.
Sharon Roy
Jan 14, 2012 Sharon Roy rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: everyone
First read this when I was 11 or 12 years old. It remains a close favourite - encapsulates so many of the themes and values that were and remain significant to me in my life. My original copy was given away when I was 17, but I found another in a used book store in Toronto some 20+ years later. I will keep this one close!
Betty Dickie
This is one of my all time favorite YA books! Magiea is a country of Magicians where the men are all magicians and the women, magician's assistants, (yes, this gets addressed). There is an annual show where each magician must prove himself or be kicked out. Along comes a strangely dressed young man whose magic is real. Thus begins the plot to get rid of him for making the others look bad. Along the way, Adam, helps others do magic, helps a frustrated girl who wants to be a magician, to feel bett...more
When you pick up a Gallico book, you know what you're in for. He tends to be allegorical, and maybe a bit sentimental. But if you can overlook those aspects - embrace them, maybe, like you would in a children's book (Gallico is one of those writers that doesn't quite fit in either adult or children's fiction categories), then he is absolutely wonderful. His "The Love Of Seven Dolls" has the same qualities this book has. It's very hard to explain what I love about Paul Gallico's writing - it gets...more
Whitney Oaks
I read this the September after I graduated HS. Even though it was an older book and not many people had checked it out of our town's library, I checked it out b/c of the title. It was such a good read; albeit odd. I read it in one day.

(Our library eventually got rid of this book and I bought it in 2009!)
I definitely recommend it if you're looking for something "out there".
An absolutely exquisite story of magic and human nature. The writing is sublime, simple and joyous and perfect for reading aloud. As with many fairytale type stories, there is a good lesson buried in the plot, but it is gently told and wrapped around full of life characters with normal human emotions and experiences. I cannot wait until my child is old enough to read this to her.
Tracy Lord
It's out of print, but, this is truly, the most inspirational, most beautiful, most heart-wrenching book I ever read. I bought a copy for an amazingly high price from an out-of-print book seller, just because I couldn't live without it.

Read it. I mean it.
This should be on my children's bookshelf, but I love it too much to let it go. Found this at a thrif store when I was 14; read and re-read and loved ever since. Classic, in ever sense.
This is one of my very favourite books. In the early 1970s U found a shop with a dozen of them on remainder and bought them all and gave them to my friends. I still have two copies which I treasure.
This is my number one book. It’s about a man who has really magic and how he must find that he is alone in this everyone else can only do stage magic. This book will warm your heart. You will find that there is nothing better than this book. It is a happy fun tale that will make you question what is right and what is real. Anyone who can read should have the opportunity to read this book.
Rebecca Pierce
My mom read this to me and my sister several times growing up. I've read it to my husband and I will read it to my children. Another telling of Christianity for children, my favorite scene is probably the pic-nic when they're looking at the new foal that didn't used to be: real magic. I also love the egg scrambling scene. This story shows faith both challenged and affirmed, betrayal and redemption, coming of age, mob mentality, grace. It is a classic both for children and adults.
This was one of my favourite childhood books and I learnt huge chunks of it by heart. Disappointingly, it didn't quite stand up to rereading as an adult -- I found the allegory slightly heavy handed in places.

It still deserves 4/5. If only for the fond memories; the imagery it's left in my head for the last 20 years and the passage where Adam (a "real" magician in a city full of jaded stage conjurors) explains that the whole world is magic and why.
Aja Marsh
i read this because it's one of M's favorite books from his childhood and he thought due to my love for harry potter i too would like it once getting past the out-dated slurs and things peppered throughout the book. it was a cute story and different than i expected. i suppose if i'd read this when i was a child i'd still love it now, but being an adult i give it 3 stars.
Subtitled "A Fable of Innocence", this is my favorite book. It is a very simple story of a man who is....magic. It is set in a city of magicians; a stranger comes to town to seek entry into the guild. For the daughter of one of the magicians this is also a coming of age tale. Not an easy book to find--I have a copy I bought used years ago and I re-read it every few years.
I found this book at a yard sale (my grandma loved going to these and always drug me along) when I was about 12. I loved it then and love it today. I recently read it to my kids who also loved it. Mopsy steals the show!
My mother used to read this book to my sister and I before we went to sleep. This story is allegorical to the life & ministry of Christ. It is out of print now, but if you can get your hands on a copy I strongly suggest it.
Dan Gilbert
One of my favorite books of all time... ever since I was a kid. I had very fond memories of this book, so I had hoped that, 45 years later, it would still hold up. I was not disappointed. It's just a terrific story.
So poignant, I just love this book. As a fellow rater said- heart-wrenching and I agree completely. It is so insightful, but frustratingly sad because, yes, a lot of people are blind to true magic.
This book is the best book EVER. It's out of print, but go find it and read it. Read it to your children. It will make their whole lives different.
Wonderful! Read as a story of magic and wonder when I was a child and as charming, allegory as an adult. I love this book.
Rachel Hanson
This is my all-time favorite book. It's a beautiful fable and it lifts my heart every single time I read it.
I was fascinated by this book as so many things were happening at different levels
Bonnie Carruth
This book asks the question if real magic came into the world could we accept it?
I enjoyed this book ... well written and interesting. Very fast read.
The very best book you probably have never heard of. A must-read!
This was a great book with a powerful message. I loved it.
my favorite book
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Paul William Gallico was born in New York City, on 26th July, 1897. His father was an Italian, and his mother came from Austria; they emigrated to New York in 1895.

He went to school in the public schools of New York, and in 1916 went to Columbia University. He graduated in 1921 with a Bachelor of Science degree, having lost a year and a half due to World War I. He then worked for the National Boar...more
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