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The Book of the Sword: With 293 Illustrations (Dover Military History, Weapons, Armor) Paperback – July 1, 1987


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Product Details

  • Series: Dover Military History, Weapons, Armor
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications; New edition edition (July 1, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486254348
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486254340
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #660,673 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Richard Francis Burton was an explorer, translator, writer, soldier, spy, fencer, and diplomat. He is most famous for his translations of One Thousand and One Nights and the Kama Sutra and for having been the first European to visit the Great Lakes of Africa. He traveled to Mecca in disguise and spoke nearly thirty languages. He died in 1890. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

59 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Anita Evangelista on August 15, 1997
Format: Paperback
Written in 1884, this book is full of the history and lore of the sword. Richard Burton (not the actor)was a historian, an explorer, and a fencer, and he managed to blend all three interests in this fascinating biography of "the Queen of Weapons." His passion for the sword is obvious as he follows it from its origins in prehistory to Roman times. For Burton, no praise is too great, no detail too small when it comes to the sword. He had a burning desire to illuminate, to tell what he knew, and this he did with the full force of a tidal wave.
Originally planned as the first of three volumes, THE BOOK OF THE SWORD unfortunately sold poorly when it was first published, so the later volumes never materialized. Today, the book is recognized for the work of art it truly is. As a fencing master and writer, I recommend this book highly.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By D. Blankenship HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on November 8, 2004
Format: Paperback
If you like swords..this book is for you. If you like Victorian writing...this one is for you. Please, before you read the book, realize who wrote it and when he wrote it. The book is very, very detailed. It is written in a style which most are not use to, therefore making it a difficult read for some. Burton, a Master Swordsman, did a tremendous amount of reasearch on this book and it was not written for those looking for a light hearted literary romp. If you are not particularly interested in sharp weapons, word roots or wonderful Victorian writing, then this one may not be for you. On the other hand, if you are a serious student of such, then this one is a must for your book collection. I do wish that more of Burton's writings had been saved. I highly recommend.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Joel Harding on December 6, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a highly detailed book on swords and other historical worldwide weapons of war. Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton, master of 29 languages, accomplished swordsman, soldier, and scholar, the man who penetrated the forbidden cities of Mecca, Medina, and Harar, and who helped introduce "The Arabian Nights" and "The Kama Sutra" to the western world. Burton was the stuff of legends, a man whose adventures and scholarly achievements have seldom been exceeded sets the stage for the introduction of swords through a review of how weapons developed and evolved into the fine weapons of the ancient britons and the romans. Unfortunately this was written as the first of a series of three books and leaves the reader hanging, the author died before completing volumes two and three - indeed a loss. If nothing else, research this author - you'll choke when you realize what else he has written!
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17 of 23 people found the following review helpful By M. A. Ramos VINE VOICE on June 23, 2000
Format: Paperback
Written in 1884, this book is full of the history and lore of the sword. Richard Burton was a historian, an explorer, and a fencer. His love of the sword is obvious as he follows it from its origins in prehistory to Roman times. You can tell that Burton believed no detail too small when it comes to the sword. He had a burning desire to tell what he knew, and this he did with great detail. It is obvious that this was to be a multi-volume series. Though written well....I was looking for information that would have been in Volume II. Since the series will never be complete; the title should be altered to include the time period reviewed. (With that done it would be 5 star, but I would have not bought it.)
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Guerrilla Reader VINE VOICE on November 15, 2005
Format: Paperback
"The history of the sword is the history of humanity." With these words, British author, Victorian scholar and world traveler Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton begins his eloquent and exceptionally erudite history of the "Queen of Weapons."

Spanning the centuries and a wide range of cultures, Burton's rich and elegant prose illuminates the sword as both armament and potent symbol. For nearly all peoples of the world, the sword embodies the spirit of chivalry, symbolized justice and martyrdom and represented courage and freedom. In battle, it served universally as a deadly offensive weapon.

Drawing on a wealth of literary, archaeological, anthropological, linguistic and other sources, the author traces the sword's origins, from its birth as a charred and sharpened stick, through its diverse stages of development, to its full growth in the early Roman Empire. Recounting man's long associations with this weapon, the author describes in brilliant detail:

The ages of wood, bone and horn. The appearance of stone swords and exotic weapons such as the boomerang. The ages of copper and alloys such as bronze and brass--used in producing the long, narrow blades of rapiers. The Iron Age during which the Viking sword of carbonized iron took shape--a weapon whose form would set the standard for the next thousand years.

Enhanced by nearly 300 excellent line drawings, the text provides an incredible wealth of detailed data about the sword and its variations: sabre, broadsword, cutlass, scimitar, rapier, foil, and a host of other arms, including dirks, daggers, throwing knives, flails and much more.

Military and social historians, scholars and students of weaponry will find this volume a fascinating, abunantly illustrated and highly readable account of this potent symbol of power. Five stars.
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Format: Paperback
I'm not the expert fencer I long to be (yet), but I do have an ever-growing collection of swords, mostly gifts from grateful Spanish patrons, but I've also been able to purchase and acquire blades from several countries. The pride of my collection is a fairly well-preserved Roman sword from the reign of Trajan.

Burton was, as we all know, something of a dabbler. In this book, he offers us not only straight history of the sword, but also countless fascinating bits of sword lore. I quite frankly can't imagine any sword lover being without this book.

I am looking for a first edition, but for now, this reprint is a valued part of my library.
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