Katana: The Samurai Sword
by Stephen Turnbull
This book is number 5 in Osprey’s ‘Weapon’ series.
This book is about the Japanese ‘Katana,’ the deadly curved sword of the Samurai, the finest edge weapon in world military history.
In the Introduction the author MAKES NOTE OR SETS THE STAGE for the legends, traditions and the culture of the men who wore and used the Katana as a weapon but more as a symbol. The next section is
Development-Katana: the soul of the Samurai. Here the author starts with the forging of a blade, explains the technical language necessary to understand the historical development from the straight blade to the curved blade of the Katana. He describes the materials used in the actual process of making this Japanese sword. Included are color and black and white photographs and illustrations.
He explains in detail the early swords and the development of the Tachi Style, which was the first type of curved blade. The author included full page color photographs of the Katana from Blade to Scabbard and the Armour of a Samurai. He includes detail descriptions with a number key for both of these photographs. The author goes on to discuss the Katana in the age of peace.
The next and longest section to be discussed in detail is Use concerning swordsmanship, battles and duels. This section is broken down into the following: The Tachi in Samurai Warfare; Japanese Swords and the Mongol Invasions; The Sword on the Sengoku Battlefield; The Katana and the Kengo; The Jigen-Ryu of Satsuma; The Katana in the Ikedaya Incident, 1864.
Included in this section are beautifully detailed illustrations of the various swords in action together with some photographs. Plus, there is a two page full-color illustration of an authentic incident in 1564 at the Minowa Castle. There is also another two page full-color illustration of the Ikedaya Incident of 1864 which was one of the most savage sword fights. Also, included in this section are six illustrations of sword fighting postures from the Heiho Okugisho, attributed to Yamamoto Kansuke (1493-1561).
The last section is Impact the Japanese Icon. This section is broken down into three brief subsections where the author touches on the
following: The sword in the age of the Gods; Sword Practice and Training; The Sword and Art. And finally, the Conclusion – The Katana:
Revolution or Evolution? It’s a discussion about the Katana today. I found this to be well written and very informative and interesting.