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|"By the Sword" is a fact filled and entertaining book written by Richard Cohen Zach Strief Jersey , who is not only a writer, but is also a National Saber champion in the U.K. His book takes an interesting and engaging look at the sword and the various ways that it has played a role in the history of cultures in many parts of the world.
The author obviously spent a great deal of time researching the history of various combat methods used by swords. His work culturally spans from the gladiators of the ancient Roman period all the way to the modern masters of fencing in today's world and everything in between, all in an entertaining style that holds the readers attention.
In Part One of "By the Sword", the use of the sword by ancient Egyptians through the use of the steel blade during the Battle of Waterloo is covered. It also delves into detail about the use of the swords in the hands of gladiators and how the weapons were used in their battles. He also provides some insight into the brutality of the gladiatorial matches and the rewards that were enjoyed by the survivors.
In Part Two of the book, the author illuminates the reader about the intricate finesse that is required to properly handle the sword and to maintain proper form in the midst of a deadly thrust of the steel blade. In addition, readers of "By the Sword" are enlightened about some of the great sword makers throughout history and their important role not only in swordsmanship, but in the outcome of various conflicts.
In the third part of the book, the author entertains the readers with insights about the practice of dueling. He covers the art of the duel and the gentlemanly rules that govern the practice in pursuit of one's name and honor. In addition, Cohen covers the differences in the rules of dueling with insights and examples ranging from the cultured gardens of Europe to the wilds of the new land of America.
"By the Sword" also explores the world of competitive fencing. The author has extensively researched the swords of fencing and follows the sport of fencing from the era of post World War II. He goes on to chronicle the growth in popularity of fencing competition and follows the sport to the time when the blade of fencing competitors were welcomed into the fold of Olympic athletes, as fencing became an Olympic sport.
Some readers will likely find that some of the chapters are more entertaining than others. However, the book taken in its entirety can be seen as an enormous history lesson that covers much more than the swords of the world. It is packed with many insights into swords and sword fighting, but also many odd tidbits of related knowledge and many interesting facts about the history of man, that are not as obviously related to the sword.
The book also includes many wonderful drawings, illustrations and photographs which help to give the reader some relief from large sections of narrative. There is a great deal of information delivered in this tome and the added illustrations help the reader to stay engaged in the work. Many of the drawings, sketches and etchings also provide vivid proof that those throughout history who have lived with blade in hand have often died by the blade of rival swords.
Richard Cohen's work, "By the Sword", is more than just an accounting of the historical role of the swords of different eras. It also helps the reader to understand the evolution of civilizations as they moved from the barbarism of the gladiators to the code of conduct that is honorably held nowadays. This work would be a welcomed gift for anyone who collects swords and historical weapons or who simply enjoys fresh insights of history.
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