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Stephen Burke (Kent, UK)

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Records of the Medieval Sword
Records of the Medieval Sword
by Ewart Oakeshott
Edition: Paperback
Price: £20.40

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not accurate and some very dubious claims, 30 Dec. 2013
I bought this book in 1991 when it first came out. I have a large collection of books on arms and armour, and naturally wanted to buy this one as soon as it was published. I have been interested in arms and armour for over 40 years, and have met the likes of Ewart Oakshott, Vesey Norman, David Edge and others to discuss the subject.

The first thing that disappointed me about this book was that Boydell managed to print the first edition with a missing chapter! When I contacted the company about this their representative was not very helpful, but arranged for the missing pages to be sent to me in the form of photocopies!

As to the content, I have some serious concerns. I have checked some of the measurements of swords given by Oakshott with the Tower Armouries and they were all wrong. It seems Oakshott may have guessed some of them. Sadly some replica sword manufacturers have made repros based on Oakshott's inaccurate measurements (I have such a sword myself), resulting in some unwealdy weapons. Oakshott's system of categorising swords is also unwealdy, leading to he himself getting confused at times.

Next Oakshott made a number of extraordinary claims for two swords in the book, one was said to the Black Prince's sword, the other that of Edward III. These claims resulted in some extended correspondence in the Newsletter of the Arms and Armour Society, between Oakshott and Claude Blair. I should add that Blair was one of the leading authorities on European Arms and Armour, and wrote one of the classic books on the subject. The claim for one sword being that of the Black Prince, was easy to demolish, there is simply no evidence whatsoever that if ever belonged to him, nor could there be any such evidence.

On to the sword that Oakshott claimed belonged to Edward III. Anyone who has read the book will know that Oakshott got a German lab to do some tests on the `Edward III' sword, what he didn't inform readers was that these tests could not prove that the sword was a 14th Century one. Moreover the analysis of the gold suggested that the sword was more likely to have been made in the 19th Century. Claude Blair highlighted a number of other reasons as to why the sword was undoubtedly a fake. One being why would the sword have heraldry on it that had no connection to Edward III? Another that the sword had come from a 19th Century dealer famous for selling fakes. The editor of the Newsletter ended the correspondence at that point on the basis that there was nothing further to say on the matter. Sadly this correspondence has not had a wide circulation, hence there have been companies making replicas of `Edward III's sword'.

As I mentioned earlier I met Oakshott, and he came across as a really friendly, approachable person. It's sad therefore that what could have been `The' book on medieval swords, was let down by inaccuracies, and some rather over the top claims about the provenance of a couple of swords.

The Most Dangerous Enemy: A History of the Battle of Britain
The Most Dangerous Enemy: A History of the Battle of Britain
by Stephen Bungay
Edition: Paperback

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best, 1 Jan. 2009
I found out about this book quite by accident. I was driving around some Battle of Britain sites in Kent, and stopped at a pub in Sandwich for a drink. The man standing next to me at the bar turned out to be one of the authors of a notable book on the Battle of Britain. He was in Sandwich to interview an American pilot who'd flown Spitfires during the war. I asked him for BoB book recommendations and he told me that `Most Dangerous Enemy' was the best account by far.

It's one of the few history books I've got that I re-read.

Bordeaux: Medoc & Graves v. 1 (Mitchell Beazley Classic Wine Library)
Bordeaux: Medoc & Graves v. 1 (Mitchell Beazley Classic Wine Library)
by Stephen Brook
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Buy his other book, 1 Jan. 2009
I recently purchased this book, having already bought Stephen Brooks' `Complete Bordeaux'. Let me save you from the mistake I made, `Medoc and Graves' is simply the Medoc and Graves section from `Complete Bordeaux'. The latter book is better produced, beautifully illustrated in colour, and covers all of the other Bordeaux wine areas. `Complete Bordeaux' is more expensive, but then you won't need to buy the second and third volumes to get full coverage of the area.

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