Houdini, Tarzan, and the Perfect Man

The White Male Body and the Challenge of Modernity in America

John F. Kasson

Hill and Wang

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An important new work from one of our premier cultural historians.

Houdini, Tarzan, and the Perfect Man considers the surprisingly complex evolution in representations of the white male body in late-nineteenth-century America, during years of rapid social transformation. John F. Kasson argues that three exemplars of physical prowess -- Eugen Sandow, an international vaudeville star and bodybuilder; Edgar Rice Burroughs's fictional hero Tarzan; and the great escape artist Harry Houdini -- represented both an ancient ideal of manhood and a modern commodity. They each extolled self-development, self-fulfillment, and escape from the confines of civilization while at the same time reasserting its values. This liberally illustrated, persuasively argued study analyzes the thematic links among these figures and places them in their rich historical and cultural context.

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Reviews

Praise for Houdini, Tarzan, and the Perfect Man

". . . This is a page-turner of a book, with a surprise worth knowing on every beautifully written page." --Linda K. Kerber, University of Iowa

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About the Author

John F. Kasson

John F. Kasson, who teaches history and American studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is the author of Amusing the Million, Rudeness and Civility, and Civilizing the Machine.

John F. Kasson

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Available Formats and Book Details

Houdini, Tarzan, and the Perfect Man
The White Male Body and the Challenge of Modernity in America
John F. Kasson

Trade Paperback

Trade Paperback
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Hill and Wang
July 2002
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9780809055470
ISBN10: 0809055473
5.5 x 8.25 inches, 288 pages, Includes 91 Black-and-White Illustrations, Notes, and an Index
$18.00

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Hill and Wang
July 2002
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781429930031
ISBN10: 1429930039
288 pages
$9.99
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Hill and Wang

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