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Salvianus (York, U.K.)

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Mersey Flats and Flatmen
Mersey Flats and Flatmen
by Michael Stammers
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What it says on the Packet, and more, 17 April 2013
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An authoritative overview of the classic Flatboats and their use from the 18thC on the Mersey proper and the associated system of rivers & canals (including the Weaver & the Douglas, the Mersey & Irwell Navigation, Sankey, Bridgewater, Trent & Mersey, Ellesmere, and Runcorn & Latchford Canals, as well as the great Manchester Ship Canal).

Stammers explains the differences, real and less distinct between all the varieties and developments of their design: Dukers; Weaver Flats; Sailing flats of various rigs; Jiggers & fly-boats; Dumb Flats; wooden hulls; steel frames to iron hulls; horse-towing; steam packets and tugs and the introduction of diesel. He looks at the building by firms like Ables in Runcorn, and the communities and trades that were the heart of the industrialisation of the North West of England.

Stammers is passionate about the subject and, as well as archives and records, draws upon the historical work of other enthusiasts and the latter generations of boatmen and their families, some of whom members of my family have met and could testify to their first-hand expertise and the work is packed to the gunnels (sorry, had to be said) with superb ink drawings detailing the exact features of various boats and flats, period photographs, including vanished swathes of Runcorn and other landscapes as well as vessels, (some of which my own family worked on) and even some construction diagrams which might be of great interest to model makers.

Above all, it gives a glimpse into the daily hard work of the families that made the North-West what it became at it's height and who have now gained the port of rest.


Best Aikido: The Fundamentals
Best Aikido: The Fundamentals
by Kisshomaru Ueshiba
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An invaluable Aikikai beginner's aide-mémoire, 3 Aug. 2010
As a widely read beginner in Aikido, my favourite instructional text has become "Best Aikido: The Fundamentals" by Kisshomaru and Moriteru Ueshiba, the second and third (and current) doshu, son and grandson of the founder of Aikido, translated by John Stevens. The title is not inspiring, but the content is: wall to wall clear photograph sequences in the modern style practised at the Aikido Hombu dojo in Tokyo.

I believe that, as the authors and other reviewers have said, this can only be viewed as an aide-mémoire to support instruction by a qualified teacher. I am currently using it to help me retain details of technique whilst illness prevents me from attending classes. It has a useful section on frequently asked questions as well as a brief explanation of the nature of Aikido. It is a training manual unlike the philosophical texts such as 'Essence of Aikido', 'The Spirit of Aikido' or the more basic earlier guides such as 'Budo'. It starts with the standard etiquette, warms ups, stretches and exercises, stances and foot movement, with a section explaining the principles of throwing, pinning and breath techniques and then going through each technique in detail, both omote and ura, with close ups of the hand grips.

Master Moriteru Ueshiba co-authored the work published in Japan "Kihan Aikido: Kihon-hen" shortly before his father's death and appears throughout the illustrations, so any British Aikido Federation members or other groups affiliated to the Aikikai Foundation can feel assured this represents authoritative current stylistic detail: very upright stances with withdrawn knee, un-agressive tegatana held low and relaxed, direct irimi etc. I particularly appreciate his demonstrating the basic stances and movement without the hakama, a very modern courtesy extended to assist learners who traditionally would have had to learn much that was not shown through their own process of trial and improvement in long hours of practice.

The nearest quality text I have is Dynamic Aikido by Gozo Shioda, the founder of the Yoshinkan school and this highlights the stylistic differences which continue to grow between Ueshiba's early pupil and his own development of Aikido and that of his heirs. I believe that a beginner needs the text written for one's own school: the differences are significant. My sensei can demonstrate a technique in the style of different schools of Aikido as well as his own interpretation after a lifetime of study with many masters, but I feel that this is something for seniors.

The English that the experienced John Stevens used in the new book is much clearer than previous books I have read and techniques are shown from different angles where relevant. I also love Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere by Westbrook and Ratti, but while Ratti's drawings beautifully capture the flow of energy in technique, which I imagine is particularly of interest to students of "Ki-Aikido", I have found them vague on mundane matters such as how to place the feet, how deeply to enter or how far to raise the hands - matters which I have learned make a technique work or not work in practice, especially with a well taught senior or someone who hasn't been trained to fall over if you wave a hand vaguely in the right direction. It must also be said that Westbrook and Ratti were awarded shodan after a relatively short period of study, whilst the authors of 'Best Aikido' by contrast have between them been masters of the Aikido World Headquarters since 1948. Similarly I find Aikido: Traditional Art and Modern Sport by Brian N. Bagot much abbreviated in comparison and showing placements and angles different to how I have been taught.

The second and third volumes move on to more advanced technique. I don't miss the jo or bokken from this volume as, having picked up bad habits with them in the past, I am happy that my sensei illustrates many techniques with them, but asks beginners to focus on the unarmed fundamentals first, just as the authors obviously expect, introducing some illustrations in the second volume. I imagine one should get a book such as Aikibatto by Stefan Stenudd if seeking to practice Aikiken more specifically.


Roman Military Dress
Roman Military Dress
by Graham Sumner
Edition: Paperback
Price: £19.99

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Long awaited definitive study of the evidence for the clothing of the Roman Army, 8 Jun. 2009
This review is from: Roman Military Dress (Paperback)
Sumner, G. (2009) Roman Military Dress, Stroud: The History Press

Roman Military Dress is exactly what I and many re-enactors have wanted for some time: an expanded synthesis of the research of the author who produced the Roman Military Clothing Osprey series, with new primary evidence, further examples, additional discussion, more illustrations and Sumner's own painted interpretations. It represents a significant improvement on those slimmer volumes for those with an academic viewpoint and, particularly, those re-enactors wishing to advance their period impressions based on a serious interrogation of the available data.

Although by necessity referring to much of the familiar evidence base, including several of the same illustrations, the new material is extensive and the discussion is at a deeper level, specifically addressing questions and arguments raised by the author's earlier works, which are more properly regarded as brief but colourful overviews for a general audience.

It is 224 pages long, plus 16 pages of colour photographs and beautiful illustrations in Sumner's characteristic style, including sixteen full length portraits of Roman soldiers, only two of which I have seen elsewhere. It has a foreword by the august John Peter Wild and is divided into three sections: 'tunics and cloaks' which covers the appearance, decoration and construction from Republican to Late Imperial times, 'the clothing industry' with a catalogue of the material, iconographic and literary evidence for military clothing colour up to the seventh century and 'other garments' which presents, amongst other things, fascinating new evidence on hats and helmet linings and a very sensible appraisal of the controversial subarmalis and thoracomachus.

This book represents the fruit of many years of study by a well respected author in the field. It is well written so as to be very readable for the non-academic whilst presenting a huge, and surely definitive, array of evidence. I believe 'Roman Military Dress' will become the new essential clothing guide for the period, destined to sit as comfortably next to Bishop and Coulston on the historian's shelf as on the re-enactor's sewing table.


Roman Military Equipment from the Punic Wars to the Fall of Rome, second edition
Roman Military Equipment from the Punic Wars to the Fall of Rome, second edition
by M. C. Bishop
Edition: Paperback
Price: £19.95

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive scholarly, yet readable examination of the evidence., 14 Jan. 2007
An indispensable academic collection and interpretation of the archaeological finds, representational and documentary evidence from across the Roman Period and the Roman world.

In chapters from the Republican period up to the Dominate, Bishop and Coulston give a summary overview and illustrate the development of equipment forms and decoration with 150 detailed line drawings. They include a chapter on production technology and provide an historical context for the study of military equipment itself.

This is a serious academic study of interest to archaeologist and historian, fully referenced, based on considerable scholarship and with an enviable reputation - the second edition was also awaited very eagerly in the re-enactment community as an authoritative argument-settler!


Late Roman Army
Late Roman Army
by Karen R. Dixon
Edition: Paperback
Price: £25.99

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well researched and referenced guide to Late Roman military life, 29 Dec. 2006
This review is from: Late Roman Army (Paperback)
Pat Southern and Karen Dixon provide an overview of the army in the historical period from Septimius Severus up to the beginning of the sixth century, including recruitment, pay and conditions, with a useful and well illustrated section on the equipment used, including a more detailed focus on helmet types, as well as discussing fortifications and siege warfare.

They describe the reforms of Diocletian and Constantine - particularly the origin of the Comitatenses, or field armies as distinct from the frontier army and give a good impression of the complexity of the debate surrounding the shifting definitions and structures as the period progressed.

The authors include an interesting discussion of morale, motivation and identity in the context of increasing cultural mix within the late Roman army. It has been criticised for containing some mistakes and for its caution in drawing new academic conclusions, but provides an excellent starting-point for study, particularly for those enthusiastic amateurs looking for an expanded and more heavily referenced progression from more introductory titles, such as the 'Osprey' series.


Living History (Master Class)
Living History (Master Class)
by Philipp Elliot-Wright
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good, well illustrated introduction to historical re-enactment, 29 Dec. 2006
Elliot-Wright provides a good overview of historical re-enactment across a range of the more popular periods, with a particular view to research and accuracy and the contibution of re-enactors to our understanding of how kit, skills and techniques worked in practice.

The photographic illustrations are an excellent window into modern re-enactment and of interest for any member of the public who has asked a question over the safety rope, as well as multi-period re-enactors such as myself, but most particularly to anyone considering re-enactment but unsure which period or group is for them.

The author focuses on specific groups, principally in the U.K., with reputations for historical accuracy. The majority of these would be categorised as 'Combat Re-enactment' groups based on particular military institutions. 'Living History', is a term more used specifically for the portrayal of domestic life, which for most of the groups featured is a secondary aim. However, I would say that the title and author's focus reflect the growing movement amongst re-enactors to break free of the 'beer and a bash' image of recreating battles and to seek a more rounded portrayal and understanding of the past, as illustrated in the section devoted to medical care across the ages.

Where I am in a position to judge the accuracy of the material, Elliot-Wright has been clearly, but understandably lead by the ideas and perspectives of the groups involved, so re-enactors with other stances on some matters might quibble with some content, but I am happy to accept that this is inevitable and in some ways is just a product of the level of detail sought by the author.


Dress in Anglo-Saxon England: Revised and Enlarged Edition
Dress in Anglo-Saxon England: Revised and Enlarged Edition
by Gale R. Owen-Crocker
Edition: Hardcover

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A comprehensive, yet readable text, from the Settlement Period to the Conquest., 6 Dec. 2006
Owen-Crocker has collected a great deal of relevant archaeological, representational and linguistic evidence and discusses it knowledgeably.

The volume is well illustrated throughout with over 200 careful line drawings and a dozen colour and a dozen black & white plates. Usefully, the author covers hairstyles, footwear and dress items such as jewellery as well as clothing. Chapters are presented for men & women separately & for each period (C5th-C6th, C7th-C9th and C10th-C11th) with additional chapters on textile production & the social significance of dress perfect for Living History enthusiasts seeking to use or recreate the the correct weaves and techniques, though you will need more specialist guidance on dyeing. Where the evidence allows, she discusses regional variations as well as social ones.

It is well referenced, yet readable and so is ideal for serious re-enactors of the early medieval period as well as students.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 22, 2008 6:20 AM BST


Rome at War AD 293-696 (Essential Histories)
Rome at War AD 293-696 (Essential Histories)
by Michael Whitby
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Concise introductory overview of a fascinating period, 16 Mar. 2006
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Michael Whitby does well to produce such a readable summary of the period in one compact and very affordable volume.
As well as outlining the political situation, he gives thumbnail portraits of some of some of the key players and gives an idea of some of the consequences of the conflicts featured.
It includes some excellent maps showing the late empire and the major migrations and campaigns, although the duplication of some illustrations from other Osprey titles of the period seems disappointing. That said, the plan of the course of the battle of Adrianople is clearer than the isometric drawings in the Osprey Campaign title dedicated to the battle.
A handy introduction in accessible Osprey style.


Romano-Byzantine Infantry Equipment
Romano-Byzantine Infantry Equipment
by Ian Stephenson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £19.99

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thought provoking study, 16 Mar. 2006
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Stephenson is looking at the period from the accession of Diocletian 281AD to the abdication of Romulus Augustulus in 476 in the western empire & from then to the death of Heraclius in 641 in the east.

He seeks both to add to the growing publication of evidence about the Late Roman military, but also to challenge what he sees as some rapidly ossifying misconceptions. His flagship example is the Duerne helmet pictured on the cover, attested in one of it's inscriptions as belonging to a cavalryman, but which he does not see as representing a 'cavalry type' and which he believes may well have been worn by infantry.

Rather than presenting a fixed picture, the author presents and seeks to explain late trends & changes in equipment. In short, if you have ever wondered what the difference is between the 'Intercisa 1' and 'Intercisa 3' helmets and had an argument about the existence and form of a 'shield wall', then this book is for you.

For me, the colour illustrations of different troops are not as nice as Graham Sumner's and are more controversial, for example in the external use of a gambeson-like subarmalis. A good number of the plates & illustrations of the extant examples will already be familiar to many readers and quite a lot of the material is also presented in Stephenson's book on Roman Cavalry, but the additional resources and theories are worth adding to a Late Roman library and is certainly an additional source for the Late Roman re-enactor.


Anglo-Saxon Thegn, AD 449-1066 (Warrior)
Anglo-Saxon Thegn, AD 449-1066 (Warrior)
by Mark Harrison
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.13

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A concise introduction to the Saxon warrior class, 1 Mar. 2006
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Mark Harrison does an excellent job of introducing the mainstay of the Anglo-Saxon army. It builds on other Osprey titles such as Saxon, Viking, Norman MAA 85, and Arthur & the Anglo-Saxon Wars MAA 154 by expanding on the development of the king's companion gesithas into a hereditary minor noble class & their role in the hearthweru & fyrd.
Embleton's clear illustrations include nice interpretations of the (Norman) supply train from the Bayeux 'Tapestry', the patchwork development of a burgh and, my favourite, the Battersea seax. Also included is a handy outline view of Swanton's spear typology.


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