Mike Edwards's Reviews > The Crooked Stick: A History of the Longbow

The Crooked Stick by Hugh D. H. Soar
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Jun 29, 12

bookshelves: europe, war

I admit at the outset of this review that I'm somewhat reluctant to say anything bad about this book; the author writes with such passion, love, and joy for his subject, and it is easy to get sucked in by that passion. That's a wonderful thing, and it makes the book very pleasurable. The author meets his subject with a dry wit and a boundless enthusiasm, and I found myself rooting for this little book.

Sadly, at the end of the day, it left me wanting for more. Because for all the enthusiasm with which the author approaches his subject (the longbow and it's place in English history), there were so many questions whose answers the author dances with, but never fully tackles. Why did the musket replace the longbow in English arsenals? What kind of penetrating power did the longbow have against steel-plated targets? To what extent was the longbow effective in various weather conditions? He flirts with all of those questions, without ever really answering any of them satisfactorily. And then he's off down another amusing tangent about Robin Hood lore or Tudor-era archery regulations, and then it's on to the next subject without ever having fully finished the previous one. (To be fair, some of these questions he addresses in his other book "Secrets of the English War Bow")

And yet any book that is this charming, and this entertaining, I can't stay frustrated with for long. So I will choose to stand by my four star recommendation, warts and all.
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