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Memoirs of a Sword Swallower Paperback – Nov 1996


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Product details

  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: V/Search Publications,U.S.; New edition edition (Nov. 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0965046958
  • ISBN-13: 978-0965046954
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 21.6 x 29.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,126,246 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Synopsis

This memoir of a sword-swallower and fire-eater reveals the tricks and trades of the side-show, as well as showing how outcasts and freaks banded together to form an alternate society. First published in the 1950s, this edition includes vintage photographs taken from Mannix's private collections.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Reader in Tokyo on 27 Feb. 2011
Format: Paperback
The version of the book I read was published by V Search in 1996, and was apparently the first edition to add 58 photos from the author's private collection. Drawn originally from magazine articles published in 1944-45, the work had been expanded into book form in 1951 as Step Right Up and retitled Memoirs of a Sword Swallower in 1964. The author, Daniel P. Mannix (1911-97), was an author, journalist and photographer, among other things.

The book described his experiences over six months as a young man traveling with a carnival around the Mid-Atlantic states, New England and upstate New York, the Ozarks and the South. Specific towns were rarely mentioned, and the time frame in general was vague. Since the book alluded to the Great Depression and Hitler's 1938 invasion of Austria, the author's experiences might have occurred sometime between the late 1930s and 1944-45. Yet World War II wasn't apparent even in passing and what biographical info the Internet has on the author said he was working in Washington during wartime. Another aside late in the book indicated that the year was 1950, which seemed much too late. Maybe the year was kept more or less vague to make the material seem fresh when the book was first published.

Raised in a wealthy suburb of Philadelphia and graduating from a nearby Ivy League university, Mannix described falling in with the carnival somewhere in the South. Chapters of his book were devoted to experiences with fire-eating and sword-swallowing, which he eventually gave up for lock-picking and mind-reading. There were chapters on the characters he traveled and worked with: Jolly Daisy the wise fat lady, Krinka the human pin cushion and carnival leader, Aunt Matty the fortune-teller, the mind-reading team of Mr. and Mrs.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 26 Nov. 1998
Format: Paperback
I read the Reader's Digest condensation of this book back in the '70s. Mickey Dolenz read it on Radio 4 (in 1990 or 91) and this reminded me that I had always wanted to find out what the Reader's Digest had missed out - the answer is: Not Much! This is a book written first-hand about an absorbing and obscure way of life but it is woefully short on detail. You never find out where the action is taking place and you have to guess which year it might be. For all that it still grabbed me. Like so many people I have always wanted to know where the fakery stopped and the real weirdness began: this book tells you that.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 27 Feb. 1999
Format: Paperback
I have to say this is one of my very favorite books. My reading habits are all across the board, but for the honesty fascinating aspects of Mannix's tale, this book tops my list.
Mannix tells the story of how he became involved in the bizarre and long-gone world of the traditional ten-in-one sideshow. If you are a fan of the history of sideshows and the circus, this is a must-read.
If anyone else has read this book and would like to share some thoughts on it (or other books on sideshows), please e-mail me!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 4 Jun. 1999
Format: Paperback
I read this way back in the early 70s and give it top marks as its one of the books that has stayed with me all these years - I even took up occasional fire-eating as a result!
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By John M on 22 Mar. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I found this book highly amusing and very instructive on Carnival (Circus in UK) activities in the USA
A classic !
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