Mike Loades is an expert on medieval fighting. He brings energy and, not just bookish learning, but insights from hands-on use. I loved the five-part Weapons That Made Britain television series for which he was the host and chief consultant. And so I looked to see if there was anything else he’d done. I found he’d written two books, which I am so happy to have read.
The Longbow is not just a book about the longbow. It’s about its construction and how it impacted the development of armor, and types of armor, and the wood used for the bow, and how to make arrows, and what the various points were for, and how people trained, and then cared for the bows, and how it was used in war. And, again, the insights are not just bookish ones. He’s walked the battlefields. He’s used bows for years. He’s performed tests with them. It is a 80-page book that carries a monstrous bang for the buck and one of the best purchases I’ve made for my library. I loved it.
Of course, after that experience, I had to get his Swords & Swordsmen. This book is almost 500 pages long, and I was rapt reading each page of it. Instead of focusing on one version of this weapon, Loades discusses exemplars of various types of swords through time, starting with the sword of Tutankhamun in Egypt all the way through the swords of J.E.B. Stuart and G.A. Custer in the American Civil War. There are 15 chapters all discussing different eras and swords that provide a mountain of insight. The love Loades has for and the practical experience he has with the topic shines through on every page. Just as with The Longbow, you’ll learn about use, construction, the interplay with armor, and much more. Heck, I got the ideas for at least three novels reading this book. I loved it as much as I loved the first.
If you enjoy military history and arms and armor, you will love these books. Guaranteed.
While you’re waiting for them to arrive in the mail, treat yourself to five hours of fascinating video below.
Weapons That Made Britain E01 – The Sword