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4.7 out of 5 stars
51
4.7 out of 5 stars
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This book is a fairly short read but an excellent and lucid introduction to a fascinating subject.

Without resorting to misty-eyed romanticism or whimsy, Mike Loades sets out to describe the devevlopment of the longbow and its uses in the field. A fair chunk of the book is taken up with descriptions of armour which initially left me feeling a little short-changed. But, as Loades points out, the development of ever more powerful bows and the altering design of arrow heads (bodkins anyone?) was an arms race which spurred the medieval armourer to ever greater heights of exoticism and cunning in order to achieve the upper hand.

I really, really enjoyed this book and, having recently read an excellent series of the 100 years war, I can now see much better how the longbow was such an integral part of everyday life.

Fascinating and accesible
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on 13 December 2013
Loades is the go to man for sensible, understandable and above all accurate background on weaponry. The text is readable as opposed to being over researched and too scholarly. Illustrations are relevant and good. His style is helpfull and portrays his passion for the subject. The acknowledged expert.
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on 26 September 2013
I am a huge fan of Mike Loades ever since I first saw him on Time Commanders as a teenager (as well as documentaries such as his latest, Going Medieval), and I couldn't wait to get my hands on this book. It was well worth the wait for its release and has been a great and interesting read, as well as being academically interesting and useful for information about the Longbow (I am writing a dissertation about England during the Hundred Years War so anything that can help as a secondary source about medieval English warfare is incredibly useful). I have done extensive reading about England in the 14th century and the Hundred Years War but still found myself being delightfully surprised by learning new information about the Longbow and its effectiveness in battle during this period from this book, as well as learning about areas I had not considered before, such as the Longbow as a naval weapon. While the book is not a long one, such as Mike's other book Swords and Swordsmen (also highly recommended reading), it still conveys a great deal of insightful and interesting information on the Longbow and its use, it has certainly made me want to take up the Longbow and get shooting!
The book is a great read for the academic, the amature or simply the curious.
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VINE VOICEon 11 August 2015
Mike Loades writes with authority and from experience. His knowledge of the longbow in its many incarnations is both wide and deep and his opinion, in areas where facts are few is exemplary. A great book!
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on 26 January 2014
Bought this for a father in law who is a massive long-bow and medieval re-enactment enthusiast and it went down a treat! Much to the annoyance of all his re-enactment friends, he's been quoting it religiously ever since. He also knows his stuff, so was pleasantly surprised there was new information to find and nothing overly controversial or lacking from what he already knew, put in a very simple and coherent way - usually finds quite a few faults with these kind of books, which is why my other half questioned whether it would go down well... But, going on reviews from other knowledgeable enthusiasts and peeking inside, I thought it was worth a punt - and I was right! I am now the favourite daughter-in-law, yey!
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on 10 April 2015
My principal interest in purchasing this book from such an expert as Mike Loades, was to learn about the structure and development of the weapon as such: the growing sophistication of the bow; the types of wood used; the use of multiple woods in a single bow and what they added to to its capabilities; what other materials like bone, metal, etc were introduced; and what might have been their contribution to its functionality; the possible influence of the eastern and middle-eastern bow structures. In effect, my interest was in the instrument itself. While some of these points were briefly mentioned, it was always in a secondary context. The main thrust of the book was to look at its strategic function as a weapon of war, the arrow heads developed for it as different armours were developed as a defence, and its tactical battlefield use. All of this was presented in an interesting way and with the full expertise of one of the world's leading authorities, and included historical references at all stages to justify Mike Loades' intrpretation of events. So to that extent, I am pleased that I bought the book, as I learned much from it. A subtitle along American lines such "The tactical use of the weapon in battle through the Middle Ages" would have been helpful. As it is, I am still looking for the kind of information I sought.
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on 23 October 2013
I bought Mike Loades' "The Longbow" because I am a re-enactor with the persona of a 14thC English yeoman archer and I want to read anything and everything that will help me gain a fuller understanding of the man I represent. I have seen many of the TV documentaries that the author has been involved with. He is an outstanding weapons master and the TV programmes do contain a lot of information and include many experiments to test what is known and what is said about fighting and warfare of the medieval period. I do, however, sometimes raise a questioning eyebrow at some of Mike Loades' conclusions. The book deals with some of the experiments contained in the programmes and it soon becomes obvious that time constrains and editing have distorted the conclusions you would make from watching them: the book gives a much more balanced interpretation.
The main reason I wanted the book was for the information on blunt force trauma caused by arrows, even when they do not penetrate armour and it reinforces my own theories.
One thing I still don't agree with the author on is how the war bow was used on the battlefield. I agree with him that long range (300 yards +) was rare and used for harassment and provocation. I would agree with 200 yards as the best range to start an arrow storm. What I can't agree with is the use of the bow at extreme short range in a melee situation. As a re-enactor who uses a longbow I know just how much room you need to use it and it cannot be used in a crush - you need about two foot either side of you to nock an arrow (this was one of the factors that made the musket more practical than the bow).
Nevertheless, it is a good book and ideal for those who want short read that will give the reader a good insight into the weapon and the men who welded it. For a more detailed study I would recommend Richard Wadge's "Arrow Storm".
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on 10 June 2014
With all of the historical, archaeological and technological information at his disposal Mike Loades should have come up with a definitive contemporary account of the history of the longbow - and he did. This book is concise, readable and informative. A very good short study indeed.
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on 16 March 2015
This is a fascinating and engaging book that should be read by all serious students of military history. Many Hollywood myths and accepted historical facts around the Longbow are challenged in this book, and Mike Loades should be congratulated for cramming so much useful knowledge into such a small format book. Highly recommended.
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on 30 October 2015
Having seen Mike Loades on TV, I found him to be informative, enthusiastic and above all, interesting. The same goes for this book. If you've got an interest in the history of the longbow, this is the book to start with.
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