By The Sword: A History Of Gladiators, Musketeers, Samurai, Swashbucklers, And Olympic Champions; 10th Anniversar

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By The Sword: A History Of Gladiators, Musketeers, Samurai, Swashbucklers, And Olympic Champions; 10th Anniversar

by Richard Cohen

Random House Publishing Group | August 5, 2003 | Trade Paperback

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Napoleon fenced. So did Shakespeare, Karl Marx, Grace Kelly, and President Truman, who would cross swords with his daughter, Margaret, when she came home from school. Lincoln was a canny dueler. Igantius Loyala challenged a man to a duel for denying Christ's divinity (and won). Less successful, but no less enthusiastic, was Mussolini, who would tell his wife he was "off to get spaghetti," their code to avoid alarming the children. 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.
 
With a new Preface by the author

Format: Trade Paperback

Published: August 5, 2003

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0812969669

ISBN - 13: 9780812969665

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– More About This Product –

By The Sword: A History Of Gladiators, Musketeers, Samurai, Swashbucklers, And Olympic Champions; 10th Anniversar

by Richard Cohen

Format: Trade Paperback

Published: August 5, 2003

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0812969669

ISBN - 13: 9780812969665

Read from the Book

Chapter 1 How It All Began The great authority on early arms, ewart oakeshott, believes that swords first appeared between 1500 and 1100 b.c. in Minoan Crete and Celtic Britain. Remarkably quickly, they became an implement of sport: the oldest known depiction of an actual fencing match is a relief in the Temple of Madinat Habu, built by Ramses III around 1190 b.c., near Luxor in Upper Egypt. (To its right is an engraving of a pile of trophy penises, hacked from the enemy dead-practice well, the sequence suggests, and this can be your reward.) The men are clearly not dueling-they appear to be wearing masks, padded over the ears and tied to their wigs, and the tips of their weapons have been covered. There are judges on either side holding feathered wands, and the score is being kept on a piece of papyrus. An inscription records one contestant as saying, "On guard and admire what my valiant hand shall do." Ninus, king of Assyria, is usually given the credit for the development of swordplay as a formalized sport. He was also the first to use professional fencing masters to instruct his troops. The Chinese, Japanese, Persians, Babylonians, and Romans sometimes fenced as a pastime, but mainly they used swords to train for combat. Indian tradition has it that Brahma taught his devotees martial exercises with the sword (priests were warriors then), and in Hindu India''s great epic, the Mahabharata, we read: Brightly gleaming their lightning rapiers as they ranged the liste
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From the Publisher

Napoleon fenced. So did Shakespeare, Karl Marx, Grace Kelly, and President Truman, who would cross swords with his daughter, Margaret, when she came home from school. Lincoln was a canny dueler. Igantius Loyala challenged a man to a duel for denying Christ's divinity (and won). Less successful, but no less enthusiastic, was Mussolini, who would tell his wife he was "off to get spaghetti," their code to avoid alarming the children. 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.
 
With a new Preface by the author

From the Jacket

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.

About the Author

Richard Cohen was five times U.K. national saber champion and was selected for the British Olympic team in 1972, 1976, 1980, and 1984. More recently, he has been four times world veteran saber champion. A former director of the Cheltenham Literature Festival, he is the author of Chasing the Sun: The Epic Story of the Star That Gives Us Life. He lives in New York City, where he is working on a new book, The History of Historians.

Editorial Reviews

"Like swordplay itself, By the Sword is elegant, accurate, romantic, and full of brio-the definitive study, hugely readable, of man's most deadly art."-Simon Winchester
 
"Touché! While scrupulous and informed about its subject, Richard Cohen's book is about more than swordplay. It reads at times like an alternative social history of the West."-Sebastian Faulks
 
"In writing By the Sword, [Cohen] has shown that he is as skilled with the pen as he is with the sword."-The New York Times
 
"Irresistible . . . extraordinary . . . vivid and hugely enjoyable."-The Economist
 
"A virtual encyclopedia on the subject of sword fighting."-San Francisco Chronicle
 
"Literate, learned, and, beg pardon, razor-sharp . . . a pleasure for practitioners, and a rewarding entertainment for the armchair swashbuckler."-Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Bookclub Guide

1. How would you fight a duel? What weapon would you choose? If a sword, what kind-a broadsword, a rapier, a nineteenth-century dueling épée? A samurai's katana? How would you behave-and what would you expect from your opponent?

2. Why has the sword proved to be such an object of fascination over the centuries? Will its symbolic value survive? Now that fencing is "only" a sport, will interest in swordplay wane?

Will its symbolic value survive? Now that fencing is "only" a sport, will interest
in swordplay wane?

3. Does fencing have a moral or philosophical significance? Much of By the Sword discusses different ideas of honor. Do you agree with the author's analysis? How does the book judge the conduct of Mayer, Pawlowski, Onishenko, and Beck?
Do you think honor has any part to play in modern swordplay, or is it, in Ben
Jonson's words, "a mere term invented to awe fools"?

4. How well did the code of personal honor, derived from chivalry, control the violence of dueling from the sixteenth century on?

5. The novelist Sebastian Faulks has described By the Sword as reading at times "like an alternative social history of the West." What do you find to support this view? Another reviewer noted that the "antagonism of the aristocratic and plebeian are the twin strands of a teasing dualism that lies at the heart of nearly all swordplay," and that this "emerges as the unspoken theme of the book." Do you agree?

6. To what kind of person does fencing appeal? Why did so many right-wing politicians find it attractive? Do you think that individual nations can be characterized by the way they fence?

7. The relationship between master and pupil is a theme that runs through the book. What makes a good master? What makes a good pupil? Are there inherent dangers in the relationship?

8. Richard Cohen describes swordplay as romantic. Is it? How do you think modern fencing compares with that of previous ages? Has something important been destroyed, or has fencing evolved in the same way any sport evolves?

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