Saturday, November 20, 2010


 Max Roach's (cool name) tantalizing tome has finally hit the streets and Sabaku Samurai gives it TEN THUMBS WAY UP (yes, we are all thumbs). For the poor uninitiated sots who just don't get it, this book is easy to read and elegantly and systematically answers the question "What is it about those @%#& Japanese swords!?" (ever heard that from a spouse or significant other?) (yeah, me too). For those of us who do get it, this book is pure sword porn, richly illustrated with beautiful glossy pictures of world class blades.

 The book traces the roots of Japanese sword development and explains in understandable terms their impact on Japanese history and culture and why they are a world icon of elegance,refinement, icy functionality and all things Japanese. The book delves into how the swords are made, polished, maintained and used. It covers Japanese sword history, what's happening with them today and what the future of nihonto holds.

It is a BIG book, coffee table size, hard cover and in 176 pages it is amazingly comprehensive. There is even an added bonus! For those who don't like reading (or like me, can barely read at all) and who just want to sit back with a beer (or beverage of your choice, mmmmm Makers Mark!) and have the information shoveled into your brain there is a great DVD included with the book (at no extra charge) that documents sword making, sword swinging (scenes from an actual iaido class) and even takes you into a sword shop in Kyoto for a little hands on discussion of the finer points of quality blades. I think the only thing that Max failed to include in this Katana media bonanza is how to get the money to buy a sword. Maybe he has a follow-on publication, "Sword Shoplifting 101" or, "Hey! is that my wakizashi in your pants or are you just happy to see me?".

The book is available now through; Japanese Swords, Cultural Icons of a Nation, The History, Metallurgy and Iconography of the Samurai Sword (ISBN-13: 978-4-8053-1035-9) (WAY cheap at $39.95). It will be featured as a recommended purchase by Barnes & Noble in their holiday catalog. For more info on the book and about Max Roach (the author) go to or check the book out on facebook! There are links to video clips, sneak peeks inside the book, etc. Click "like" and recommend it to your friends (if you have any).

MOST IMPORTANTLY, when you get the book immediately go to pages 117 and 118 and marvel at Sabaku Samurai's incredible ken sword that is featured there. I was one page away from being a centerfold! My momma would be so proud.

BOTTOM LINE, it is an OUTSTANDING book, destined to be a standard for martial arts enthusiasts, sword collectors and Asian arts aficionados. When it comes to Japanese swords, if you know someone who doesn't get it, get it! If you get it and want to see some wonderful sword related photography, get it! If you want something real pretty to put on your coffee table to prove what an erudite citizen of the world you are, get it! Get it?


Shepherd said...

I agree with everything you said about the book...and more !
The writer was very carefull NOT to include the typical misinformation about japanese swords, especially when it comes to their creation.
Much sword pron at it's best

swords said...

I agree with what the written in that booksSwords