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258CIVIL WAR HISTORY literature on the larger questions ofcommerce raiding and a social history ofthe Alabama's crew—remains to be done. Anyone who would undertake such a task, however, wiU likely be confronted with the question "Do we reaUy need another book about the Alabama?" Robert J. Schneller, Jr. Naval Historical Center American Swords and Sword Makers. By Richard H. Bezdek. (Boulder, Colo.: Paladin Press, 1994. Pp. xvii, 627. $79.95.) The sword as a weapon and a symbol of power has an undeniable fascination. For those drawn to this subject, Bezdek's American Swords and SwordMakers is the most complete work ever done on the topic. Indeed, it is encyclopedic in its scope. This work is not a history of swords, nor is it a history of the function and use ofthe weapon. It is, rather, a collection oflists with comments interspersed of makers, suppliers, importers, and decorators, both pubUc and private. Private fraternal orders as well as miUtary swords ofthe different federal and state miUtary organizations are covered. There are chapters listing makers by region or states with the locations and dates of their activities. There are long chapters dealing with the Union and the Confederacy. Others deal with federal and state armories, with other edge weapons such as knives and pikes, with sword dealers, with contractors, and with inspection stamps and other markings . There are more than fifty pages of illustrations and photographs showing details of these weapons and an admirable bibliography of about the same length. The lists include makers from the famous, such as Ames and Waters, to the obscure. There are those listed who manufactured for decades and others who were suppliers for only a year or two. The reader can trace the makers from workshop to factory to corporation and find transfers and mergers. This handsome book is weU and thoughtfully organized. Most lists within each category discussed are alphabetical, keeping families and companies together. Wherever some change in ownership or name occurs, the author notes it, making it easy for the reader to pick up the continuation of activity. Richard Bezdek's research of twenty years is remarkable for both its breadth and depth. It is the definitive work on the subject. The book's primary use would be as a reference work for the growing number of sword collectors, but miUtary historians and military collectors may find it fascinating as well. Carl L. Davis Stephen F. Austin State University ...


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