Life, Death and Magic

David Conway was in his twenties, fresh from University and desperately broke, when he wrote his first book, Magic: an Occult Primer, published by Jonathan Cape in London and by mainstream publishers all over the world. Fêted by the media, he followed it with a second book, The Magic of Herbs, before withdrawing from the limelight to pursue a career in the British civil service both at home and abroad.

As described in his recent autobiography, Magic: a Life in More Worlds Than One, he had in his youth run off with a French circus, as well as mingled with the louche and the famous, often one and the same, observing them with a sympathetic but never uncritical eye. As the present volume reveals, these included the young David Bowie and William “Naked Lunch” Burroughs. 

Magic and the occult had been part of David Conway’s life since childhood. Yet in 1997 something happened that led him to jettison both. From one day, indeed one minute, to the next, he ceased believing there is more to us than our commonplace flesh and blood selves. Few have argued the case better than he does in this book.

But .  . . the supernatural was determined to reclaim him. And seldom has the case for its defence been presented in such a persuasive, let alone entertaining, way as in these pages, often by reference to his own experience, not to mention that of his larger-than-life family.

Meanwhile throughout the narrative, discreet but unsettling, runs a real-life mystery, one that has persisted to this day. To say more, would be to say too much. From his first book to this one David Conway has preached, though his style is anything but preachy, to the unconverted as much as to those, more numerous than fifty years ago, that believe in the supernatural. Many who read this remarkable book will end up believing in it also. And few, sceptic or believer, will remain indifferent to the story it narrates.

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