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Book Note: Richard Cohen, By the Sword

I read this book about 14-Mar-2003. This is the first time I've read this book. The book is copyright 2002. This note was last modified Sunday, 23-Mar-2003 07:13:36 PST.

This note does not contain major spoilers for the book.


This turns out to be more a history of sport fencing than anything else. The historical development of the sword and of sword-fighting is covered in quite a few chapters, but with a diffuse lack of focus that makes it not terribly satisfactory. On the other hand, the history of Olympic competition in fencing is more interesting than I would have expected.

I learned that electrical judging was introduced in epee competition before I was born, and in foil about when I was born. I didn't previously know electrical foil judging even existed; I don't remember it being mention when I took fencing. We knew electric epee existed, we just didn't have it there (but we only really had foil anyway). The club I went to was all human, too, but I guess that's normal for practice. And that cheating was far more widespread than anybody, I think, would have really preferred.

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David Dyer-Bennet