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CompleteMartialArts.com - By the Sword: A History of Gladiators, Musketeers, Samurai, Swashbucklers, and Olympic Champions (Modern Library Paperbacks)


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Manufacturer: Modern Library
Average Customer Rating: Average rating of 4.0/5Average rating of 4.0/5Average rating of 4.0/5Average rating of 4.0/5Average rating of 4.0/5

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Binding: Paperback
Dewey Decimal Number: 355
EAN: 9780812969665
ISBN: 0812969669
Label: Modern Library
Manufacturer: Modern Library
Number Of Items: 1
Number Of Pages: 560
Publication Date: 2003-08-05
Publisher: Modern Library
Release Date: 2003-08-05
Studio: Modern Library

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Editorial Reviews:

By the Sword is an epic history of sword fighting—a science, an art, and, for many, a religion that began at the dawn of civilization in ancient Egypt and has been an obsession for mankind ever since. With wit and insight, Richard Cohen gives us an engrossing history of the world via the sword.


Spotlight customer reviews:

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: Beware the pedants - they are often wrong
Comment: I am the author's wife and I'm posting his review below...

Beware the pedants - they are often wrong

It is some time since I looked at the reviews of my book, and I am very grateful for the appreciative ones. However, there seems to be a feeling that the book is littered with errors. Not so. In so long a text,over 500 pages, a few were bound to creep in, but so far I have had to correct less than a dozen, all of them minor - and that includes errors pointed out to me in letters I have received from medieval historians and other specialists.A revised edition in the summer of 2008 will bring the whole story of fencing up to date, and have every error I have been informed about corrected.

One continuing charge is that I overrate Errol Flynn as a fencer and underrate Tyrone Power. Well, here I stick to my guns (or foils). My own coach, the supreme Hollywood swordmaster Bob Anderson (as detailed in the book), trained Flynn, and though Flynn was no great technician he was such a gifted sportsman (tennis champion, Olympic boxing try-out, you name it) that his fencing was remarkably convincing. Power, on the other hand, was overweight when making his so-called great Zorro film; in the key scene, he is often unbalanced, ill-coordinated and flat-footed. I say this not as someone out to 'get' Power, but simply as an international fencer of many years who knows sloppy fencing when he sees it. As for Basil Rathbone, he was much better, but still no more than an adequate club fencer - as many contemporaries attest. If someone tells you differently just don't believe them.
- Richard Cohen

Customer Rating: Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5
Summary: In spite of the errors...
Comment: I was sorry to hear about the historical errors in this book (without them 5 stars), but that doesn't take away from the quality of read. The best content in the book concerns the more recent history of fencing, anyway. Most notably the chapter on cheating in the sport and the portraits of such famous masters and competitors as Aldo Nadi, Emil Beck, and Helene Mayer. Mr. Cohen is a gifted writer and this book is a delight to read. I hope future editions of this book will make an effort to correct the mistakes, after which I will gladly add it to my library. A must-read for students of the sword.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 1/5Average rating of 1/5Average rating of 1/5Average rating of 1/5Average rating of 1/5
Summary: Highly inaccurate
Comment: As some of the mistakes in this book have been listed, I will just deal with the Hollywood stuff, which is TOTALLY INCORRECT:

- Errol Flynn was NOT an accomplished swordsman

- Tyrone Power was an EXPERT swordsman who NEVER - read this - NEVER used a double. Basil Rathbone, also an expert swordsman, said "Tyrone Power could fence Errol Flynn into a cocked hat." Rathbone and Power's swordfight in "The Mark of Zorro" is considered the best ever filmed.

I have no idea where Mr. Cohen got his information, but I can personally attest that it is completely inaccurate and an insult to Power to boot, whose expertise was well known.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 1/5Average rating of 1/5Average rating of 1/5Average rating of 1/5Average rating of 1/5
Summary: Bad book. Period
Comment: One more time, an anglo saxon writer took the chance to write a book where everything is justified thorugh anglo saxon eyes.
History is just a flow of events where only english (americans) or french had a role.
The book is pretty much full of historical mistakes, over than exposing everything always with the purpose to highlight the english, american (sic!) or french culture, maliciously dening or just ignoring other cultures (greater cultures) achievements.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5
Summary: Historically accurate but broad enough to cover Hollywood
Comment: I found this book useful for my research into the social context of fenching, for a book I was researching. It is well written and entertaining. Also enjoyed the breadth of coverage which includes chapters on "show" fencing such as Hollywood swash-bucklers.


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