JIM ROSE


"Snake Oil: Life's Calculations, Misdirections and Manipulations" Book (Bartleby Press; 2005)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

If you've been lucky enough to catch a live performance of the Jim Rose Circus, you no doubt left the theater that night with your senses more than a little stunned, your abdomen sore from the incredible levels of nervous laugher you expended, and your mind whirring with the question: "How'd they do that?"

Well, the new book by founder Jim Rose, "Snake Oil: Life's Calculations, Misdirections and Manipulations," won't do much for your reeling senses or your weary stomach muscles, but it will answer some of your "How'd they do that?" questions. And then some.

"Snake Oil" is 160 pages filled with the secrets of con-men, grifters, snake oil salesman and, in the case of Mr. Rose himself, master showmen. Jim Rose has seen and/or done it all and this book is his catalog of tricks, tips and much, much more.

Ranging from the simple (bending a fork) to the complex (guessing numbers using mathematical sequences) to the probably unnecessary (kangaroo boxing and bullfighting) to flat out warnings (internet gambling), "Snake Oil" is fascinating reading. You may just discover you've been the victim of a scam and not even realized it!

Rose's writing style is very friendly and easily read. Rather than reading like a dull textbook, "Snake Oil" is more like a one-sided conversation. It's almost as though Jim's sitting there at the table with you, telling you his secrets over a swirling glass of smoke (page 95 - "Smoky Drink").

Rose doesn't give away everything here (what would be the fun in that?) but he does give away a lot. In fact, even his own famous light bulb-eating stunt is listed here. Interestingly, on the more nefarious stuff, "Snake Oil" reads more like a guide on how not to get ripped off rather than a primer on how  to rip someone off. However, no matter what the reader's intent, "Snake Oil" is a fun and fascinating read.

For more information, check out www.jimrosecircus.com


Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.


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Copyright 2005 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 08 Oct 2017 14:06:06 -0400.