The United States government feared an attack from the USSR during the Cold War. This led it to a host of experimental programs aimed at ensuring the country was prepared for whatever the Soviets threw at them. One such program was Project MK-ULTRA, for which the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) asked for the assistance of magician John Mulholland.
John Mulholland was born on June 9, 1898. He first began to learn the art of magic as a teenager, with the mentorship of John William Sergeant, the President of the Society of American Magicians. He went on to have a professional career that spanned two decades, during which he worked with small companies and larger stage shows.
Mulholland quickly made a name for himself, running one of the first magic workshops and becoming the editor of the magical trade magazine, The Sphinx. He performed shows in over 40 countries, including some at the White House, and published 10 books about magic.
One of these books was called The Art of Illusion: Magic for Men to Do. Around 100,000 copies were published and distributed among US soldiers serving overseas during World War II.