Subtitled "An International Guide to Military Knives from World War I to the Present" -- which about says it all -- this new book reprints material from Hughes/Jenkins two well known but difficult to find "Primer" books with additional info on knives like the Gerber Mark II and Carlson's Raiders Gung Ho knife.
Reviewed by Knife World Staff
If the names of this book’s authors sound familiar to you – Buerlein, Hughes & Jenkins – it’s probably because they should be familiar to all who possess an interest in the military knives of the 20th and 21st centuries. Bob Buerlein is the author of the superb reference entitled Allied Military Fighting Knives and the Men Who Made Them Famous (first published 1984, now available in reprint form); and is also the longtime President of the Ek Commando Knife Company. Britain’s late Gordon Hughes authored several books on military knives, bayonets, firearms and related subjects, including two collaborations with fellow countryman Barry Jenkins: 1974’s Primer of Military Knives and the 1981 followup Primer of Military Knives Part II. Privately published in England, relatively few of these valuable references ever reached U.S. collectors – but the new Knives of War satisfies a long-felt want by using these two volumes as its basis.
The new book is filled with the fine quality line drawings of the two Primers, drawn in a style very much reminiscent of M.H. Cole’s famed military knife books. The first thing those familiar with the original books will notice is that the organization of Knives of War is vastly improved. Eleven chapters clearly separate the knives shown by type: “Fairbairn-Sykes Fighting Knives, Variants, and Stilettos”, “Knives of the Allies of WWI and WWII”, “Germany’s Trench Knives and Those of its Central and Axis Power Allies”, “Knuckle Knives”, “The Big Knives” (which includes machetes, smatchets, kukris, and the so-called “V-44” Army Air Corps Machete / Survival Bowie of WWII), “Bayonet, Sword, and Other Conversions”, “Ceremonial Hangers”, “Folding and Gravity Military Knives”, “Trench Clubs” (no, these don’t have blades!), “Contemporary Knives Since WWII” and finally “Miscellaneous”.
But Knives of War is more than just a reprint of those two rare books. The information on each item illustrated has been updated to reflect knowledge learned since the original publications, with the input of such authorities as William Windrum, John W. Brunner, Rudy Rosenquist, Larry Thomas, Ron Flook, and Homer Brett. Furthermore, additional material has been added on subjects such as the Fairbairn-Sykes knives and Carlson’s Raider Knife. A series of photos depicts the military use of the kukri, as taught to Buerlein by a Gurkha Officer. A section on Gerber’s famed Mark II knife shows the original drawing, explains early development and sales, and includes a chart for decoding serial numbers to determine the year of production. Finally, new information on Ek Commando knives includes details of the company’s evolution over the years and info on how to date the knives, some of which I don’t believe has ever been published before.
While not intended as a substitute for such standard references as M.H. Cole’s Best of U.S. Military Knives or Book III (for American knives) or Ron Flook’s out of print British & Commonwealth Military Knives (for British knives), collectors will find Knives of War a very useful resource for international military knives from WW I through the end of the 20th century. Not only is it a big improvement over the two original Primers, it’s also a lot easier to find and a whole lot cheaper!
Knives of War: An International Guide to Military Knives from World War I to the Present
by Gordon Hughes, Barry Jenkins, and Robert A. Buerlein
Softcover, 119 pp.