Automotive Holiday Deals Books Gift Guide Books Gift Guide Shop Men's Athletic Shoes Learn more nav_sap_plcc_6M_fly_beacon David Bowie egg_2015 All-New Amazon Fire TV Beauty Deals Martha Stewart American Made Amazon Gift Card Offer minions minions minions  Amazon Echo Starting at $84.99 Kindle Black Friday Deals BestoftheYear Outdoor Deals on HTL
Swallow and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more

Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.

  • List Price: $27.95
  • Save: $4.89 (17%)
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Only 1 left in stock (more on the way).
Ships from and sold by Gift-wrap available.
Swallow: Foreign Bodies, ... has been added to your Cart
Condition: Used: Good
Comment: Item qualifies for FREE shipping and Prime! This item is used.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 2 images

Swallow: Foreign Bodies, Their Ingestion, Inspiration, and the Curious Doctor Who Extracted Them Hardcover – December 28, 2010

15 customer reviews

See all 4 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
New from Used from
"Please retry"
"Please retry"
$5.32 $0.01

Driving Hungry: A Memoir by Layne Mosler
Foodie Memoirs
Check out a selection of Biographies and Memoirs, including "Driving Hungry" from Layne Mosler. Learn more | See related books
$23.06 FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Only 1 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Gift-wrap available.

Frequently Bought Together

  • Swallow: Foreign Bodies, Their Ingestion, Inspiration, and the Curious Doctor Who Extracted Them
  • +
  • Called Back: My Reply to Cancer, My Return to Life
Total price: $39.01
Buy the selected items together

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

They are fodder for the giggles--and groans--in every ER: the alarming X-rays of coins, toys, buttons, safety pins, needles, and other nonedibles of both the benign and potentially fatal variety. Award-winning author Cappello (Called Back) brings a poet's sensibility and a journalist's fascination to the modern history of foreign body ingestion through the story of early–20th-century endoscopy pioneer Chevalier Jackson, who meticulously documented his extractions, which along with his tools are on display at Philadelphia's medical Mutter Museum. "We have entered... a form of literature and not of science, a philosophical treatise... for a theater of the absurd," marvels Cappello of the detritus Jackson retrieved from throats and stomachs. Hewing closely to Jackson, Cappello chronicles the odd cases and people--and in one case, an entire family--who built his practice and reputation. Their improbable accidents elicit gasps of astonishment; how did a baby swallow more than two dozen pins, needles, and cigarette butts? Cappello smartly focuses on Jackson's peculiar life, wondrous fine art, and diligent science, transforming an intriguing medical history into a lyrical biography. Medical practitioners and nonprofessionals will be equally fascinated. (Jan.)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

As topics of expository writing, objects that people accidentally inhale or swallow may seem like interesting, if somewhat unappetizing, attention-getters for, at most, an in-flight magazine article. Yet Cappello, an award-winning author of three previous works of literary nonfiction, successfully devotes an entire book to the subject by focusing largely on a fascinating, eccentric doctor who collected them. Born and raised in Pennsylvania and trained as a laryngologist in Philadelphia, the colorfully named Chevalier Jackson revolutionized his chosen field by developing safe methods of extracting objects lodged in airways and abdomens. But even more interesting, as Cappello sees it, was Jackson’s obsession with painstakingly cataloguing each object, from thumbtacks to watches to miniature opera glasses, and donating the lot to Philadelphia’s famous Mütter medical museum. As a sideshow to probing Jackson’s curious asceticism and fussy, prolific studies, Cappello spends ample time ruminating on the complex mechanics of, and psychology behind, swallowing, ingestion, and appetite. While Cappello’s endless digressions and hunger for detail won’t appeal to everyone’s tastes, her prodigious rhetorical gifts are undeniable. --Carl Hays

Hero Quick Promo
Holiday Deals in Kindle Books
Save up to 85% on more than 1,000 Kindle Books. These deals are valid until November 30, 2015. Learn more

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: The New Press; 1 edition (December 28, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595583955
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595583956
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,586,420 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mary Cappello, a 2011 Guggenheim Fellow in Nonfiction, is a regular contributor to the world of literary nonfiction and experimental prose. Her four books include a memoir, a detour, an anti-chronicle (or "ritual in transfigured time"), and a lyric biography. She is the author of Night Bloom: An Italian/American Life (Beacon Press); Awkward: A Detour (a Los Angeles Times bestselling book-length essay on "awkwardness"); Called Back, and most recently, Swallow: Foreign Bodies, Their Ingestion, Inspiration and the Curious Doctor Who Extracted Them.

Called Back: My Reply to Cancer, My Return to Life, received a ForeWord Book of the Year Award and an Independent Publishers Award (IPPY). "Getting the News," an excerpt from Called Back that appeared in the Summer 2009 issue of The Georgia Review, won a GAMMA Award for Best Feature from The Magazine Association of the Southeast. Called Back was also a Finalist for a Lambda Literary Award, and a Publishing Triangle Award, the judges for whom described the book this way:

"The narrative of cancer has become disconcertingly familiar to us. But Mary Cappello turns the story inside out, folds it up, and deftly re-opens it into something new and rather marvelous. This is someone who reads Proust on the gurney while waiting to be wheeled into surgery. She brings us along for the ride, and it's a dizzying, discursive delight. With a bracing combination of intellectual and emotional acuity, Cappello explores the inanities and indignities of the medical establishment, the solitude and camaraderie of illness, the politics and poetics of cancer culture. "Most essays are finished before they've begun," Cappello cautions her undergraduate writing students. Her book is an essay continually striking off into unexpected terrain with giddy courage and wonderment. Called back across that grim border, Cappello brings with her a luminous gift."

Some of Cappello's recent essaying addresses Gunther von Hagens' bodyworlds exhibits (in Salmagundi); sleep, sound and the silence of silent cinema (in Michigan Quarterly Review); the psychology of tears (in Water~stone Review); the uncanny dimensions of parapraxis and metalepsis (in Interim), and the aesthetics of the short form. Her experimental prose piece, "Objective Correlatives: a trialogue on love" appearing in Hotel Amerika was just nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and her work has enjoyed numerous Notable Essay of the Year citations in Best American Essays. A recipient of the Dorothea Lange/Paul Taylor Prize from Duke University's Center for Documentary Studies and the Bechtel Prize for Educating the Imagination from Teachers and Writers Collaborative, Cappello is a former Fulbright lecturer at the Gorky Literary Institute (Moscow, Russia) and currently Professor of English at the University of Rhode Island where she teaches courses in Creative Writing, Literature and Medicine, nineteenth century American literature and culture, Literary Acoustics, and more. Her latest book-length project on a single theme is a foray into sound and mood, tentatively titled In the Mood.

For media features (from the LA Times to the New York Times, from to the Huffington Post, to radio appearances in Vancouver and Australia),a schedule of appearances, reviews, and projects relative to SWALLOW, please visit

Cappello is interested, along with a number of other contemporary nonfiction writers, in restoring the word "essay" to its verb form. For more information, including interviews with Julie Bolcer for HERE! TV, NPR affiliate Celest Quinn for "Afternoon Magazine,"and Jean Feraca for "Here on Earth," go to her website:,

or read more on her Faculty Homepage:

or visit her youtube channel, where a series of visual meditations on awkwardness can be found.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By AOK on June 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover
In "Biography or Biographeme," which Mary Cappello posted as a guest blogger for Powell's Books, she explains that she was aiming for "an extended, deeply researched poem" with Swallow, as opposed to the "definitive" or "official" biography of Dr. Chevalier Jackson. I'm pleased to report that she succeeds on that score.

Throughout the book, Cappello capitalizes the word "thing" when it "refer[s] to an object that has undergone a transformation once it has been swallowed, retrieved, studied, and placed in Jackson's collection." I loved that in addition to detailing the metamorphoses of particular swallowed objects into Things, her supporting prose is full of this kind of magic. The esophagus and windpipe are not merely adjacent, they share a "party wall." A sword swallower becomes a "human sheath." A "knobless drawer" invokes "tight-lipped terror." Jackson, who could close a safety-pin lodged in a patient's esophagus, becomes a "time-bomb detonator."

I also enjoyed Jackson's own memorable analogies that Capello quotes, including his likening using a forceps to walking on stilts and his discussing a foreign body's position in terms of obstetrics.

Here's a passage on umbrella-headed tacks that Capello shares from Jackson's "Diseases of the Air and Food Passages of Foreign-Body Origin": "The umbrella-shaped head with its weighty stem for ballast certainly is well constructed for being drawn in by the inspiratory blast, like a parachute on a rising wind...This shape, as well as the point, resists bechic expulsion unless the tack is overturned; we all know the pull of an umbrella when the wind gets under it.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Rob Hardy HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on February 10, 2011
Format: Hardcover
The Mütter Museum in Philadelphia has long been a site of pilgrimage for the unsqueamish who are interested in medical curiosities or just general freakishness. Under a stairway there is a cabinet with heavy drawers which visitors are invited to open. Within each drawer are further compartments, each of them containing a small object. The objects are not extraordinary, and they certainly are not as dramatic as some of the museum's other exhibits. There are coins, brooches, a steering wheel from a toy automobile, safety pins, a crucifix, a watch, a padlock, peanut kernels, a bullet, and hundreds more, objects of such diversity that it is hard to see what might unite them. These are, however, the Chevalier Jackson Foreign Body Collection. Dr. Jackson plucked the items from the interiors of bodies where they had no business being, from esophagi, stomachs, and bronchial tubes. He would have been distressed, perhaps, that they were curiosities in a museum which houses many monstrosities, for he had indexed each object with data about the age and sex of the person from which it was extracted, the procedure used, and so on. He said that the collection was, "in my opinion, of enormous clinical value to the physician and surgeon." Dr. Jackson had a mission, to increase doctors' understanding that people swallow or inhale such items with distressing frequency, and that such accidents need to be considered when any patient comes in with throat, chest, or stomach complaints. The story of Dr.Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By SavtaD on November 27, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I was fascinated by the subject matter when I read a review of the book in a local newspaper. The story of the ingestion of foreign objects and the "curious" doctor who extracted many of them (and kept a record which is available for all to see in a museum in Pennsylvania) fascinated me. Unfortunately, the writing style of the author left a lot to be desired. She did not focus on the objects and the people who swallowed them but seemed to add them incidentally in a very scattered way. Dr. Chevalier Jackson is mentioned throughout the book but different bits and pieces are added at different places, often seemingly random. I would love to read more on the subject matter and visit the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia where Jackson's Foreign Body Collection is on view. The knowledge of the collection is one thing I gained from the book.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J. Hundley VINE VOICE on May 21, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Swallow is unique, fascinating, deep, probing, frustrating and, once in a while, infuriating. Ostensibly a work of biography and medical history, it is also a book of musings, digressions, contemplation and memoir. While her research into Jackson, his world, his technique, his legacy is painstaking and wide-ranging, her explorations of his psyche, constantly drawing in subtext from everything from art history, the civil war and reconstruction, gender studies, word-play, and so on (and on) can get a little wearying.

Jackson, a medical pioneer by any measure, is certainly worthy of attention and remembrance - he was by all evidence, a fascinating, curious and singular individual. His specialty, the removal of foreign bodies inhaled or ingested, is inherently seductive, if in some ways morbidly so. And there is much here that does justice to both. And many of the author's musings and digressions are themselves the equal of the main subjects. However, not all digressions are created equal and too often the text wanders far-afield and becomes downright dense. This is not an easy read. That in and of itself is not a problem, but getting lost and confused in the meandering is, at least for this reader.

I give four stars for the book's many admirable qualities - it is a pleasure to read well-crafted prose on pretty much any topic, and the topics here are worthy. I have to express some reservations, though, as the book too often wanders into the ether and some of the connections the author makes strike me as being a stretch and / or kind of beside the point. As a whole, a worthwhile experience, but not without the occasional wish that it would just shut up and get back to the good stuff.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Set up an Amazon Giveaway

Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more
Swallow: Foreign Bodies, Their Ingestion, Inspiration, and the Curious Doctor Who Extracted Them
This item: Swallow: Foreign Bodies, Their Ingestion, Inspiration, and the Curious Doctor Who Extracted Them
Price: $23.06
Ships from and sold by