The War Magician – A Remarkable True Story Written by New York Times Best Selling Author David Fisher 

War Magician

Written by: Ashley Foster

New York Times best-selling author David Fisher is no stranger to being on the number one bestseller list. Unsurprisingly, his new book, The War Magician, recently hit Amazon’s #1 New Release in Biographies of World War II. Based on a true story, the novel will soon be a major film produced by Academy Award-winning actor Benedict Cumberbatch. 

The War Magician is the marvellous tale of a man who used the powers of illusion to fight the Nazis and created one of the most cunning feats of strategy since the Trojan Horse. Now we might wonder how this fascinating WWII story fell into the hands of a renowned author from New York. 

Fisher has an awe-inspiring life story that is filled with fortunate events as remarkable as any legendary story he’s curated. The award-winning author has almost 100 books, including twenty-six New York Times bestsellers. He has written works from various industries of nonfiction, fiction, reference, and humor. Even more so, He collaborated with legendary figures from Nobel Prize-winning scientists to the elusive heads of Mafia families.

Author, David Fisher

Fortunately for us literary aficionados, Fisher’s ultimate life choice led him to a career in journalism. British Thoughts sits down with Fisher to get to know the man behind the pen and his process for The War Magician. 

As a native New Yorker, Fisher had his heart set on becoming a shortstop for the Yankees or nothing at all. When it became apparent that the dream would not be a reality, Fisher opted for his second love, writing. He began his career as a staff writer for the late great comedian Joan Rivers’ syndicated programme, The Show.  

Soon Fisher started contributing as a sports writer for Life Magazine, covering sports and youth culture. He was the youngest reporter in the magazine’s history at the time and decided that he would try to make a living as a writer after responding to an ad from an agent. This agent had a children’s book that he had sold and needed a writer – the book was a children’s biography of Malcolm X, ultimately becoming Fisher’s first book out.

As a person always fascinated with a good story, Fisher’s natural curiosity led him to write the most beguiling productions any one person could ever believe. “I have been blessed to spend my life meeting and to become friends with an extraordinary array of people from Nobel Prize-winning scientists to the heads of mafia families,” says Fisher. “The concept of doing the same thing every day was not something I could ever do. I always say it every time the phone rings. It’s the edge of a new adventure.”

A new adventure indeed, Fisher’s creativity can spin an ordinary project into something extraordinary. He seeks ways to create a spellbinding storyline while also inducing an enchanting experience through his research. For instance, when asked to do United Airlines’ 75th Anniversary Book, The Age of Flight. Fisher spent 24 hours on an airplane, the same airplane, observing.

For 24 hours, he never got off, digesting the entire concept of flying all over the country while observing the different crews come in and do their job. What could have been a tedious corporate project turned into a fun and fascinating experience. 

Not all Fisher’s works turn out as planned. Some are personal favourites that attract international attention over domestic success. Fisher shares one in particular, “The one that I just love is called “Conversations with My Cat.”

 A little humorous novella that has been optioned for movies a couple of times. It was the number-one bestseller in France and Israel. It won awards. Although I think it’s a quality book, it has not gotten the attention.”  

Fisher also speaks on what he calls one of the most frustrating experiences in his career. A friend and legendary FBI agent Joseph “Donnie Brasco” Pistone, on whom Fisher wrote the book The Good Guys featuring former Mafia prince Bill Bonanno, ​​asked if there was anything in the FBI that Fisher wanted to see. Fisher spent six months in the FBI Crime Lab and is the only reporter who ever gained that access.

 Hard Evidence was about forensic science and how the FBI uses it to break cases. It was the precursor to the crime shows we know and love today, SVU, CSI, True Crime and the like. The week the book was published, two trials were going on: The OJ trial in LA and the Blind Sheep from the First World Trade Center in New York. The publisher had no interest in selling the book. Instead, Fisher printed 5000 copies with zero advertising and eventually, that went down the drain. “It was such a frustrating experience because it’s a wonderful book, forensic science, and it started a fascination with forensic science,” says Fisher. 

Whether the story becomes a best seller or not, Fisher’s process for deciphering which stories to dive into always starts with intrigue. “Someone will call and say “does this interest you?” or “I’ll read something that catches my attention,” says Fisher. That was surely the case for The War Magician. Fisher recalls reading a book called Game of the Foxes by a historian named Ladislas Farago from Morocco. “There was one paragraph in there about water resistance. Literally one paragraph, and it just intrigued me so much,” says Fisher. “I discovered Farago lived in New York, and I went to his publisher, and we met; the next thing I knew, I had relocated to London.” Fisher spent six months researching the story and came back to write, The War Machine. 

The Book

How an Illusionist Changed the Course of World War II

In 1939, England went to war against Hitler mobilizing its entire military and industrial resources.  There was no place in that vast army for a legendary stage magician such as Jasper Maskelyne, whose family was renowned for creating modern theatrical illusions. Maskelyne was determined to fight the Nazis using his only weapon, magic. He intended to apply a completely unheard-of tactical approach using skills and techniques of popular magic to the battlefield. Initially ignored and ridiculed by the staid military leadership, he eventually persuaded his way into the Camouflage Corps. He was sent to the Western Desert, where he created a new type of warfare.

With his small group of artists, the Magic Gang, Maskelyne designed and developed ingenious weapons, then tricked the Desert Fox, General Rommel, and his fabled Afrika Corps into believing there were tanks and battleships where there were none, concealed the Suez Canal, and even successfully “moved” Alexandria Harbor.

But it required all his skills to pull off perhaps the most complex magic trick in history. As General Bernard Montgomery told Maskelyne on the eve of the Battle of Alamein, “The entire war will turn on what happens here. What I am about to ask you to do is impossible. It can’t be done, but it must be done. I hope you’ve brought your magic wand with you.” This fact-based story of the illusion that won the war in the desert is available now on Amazon hardcover and ebook.