Robert Escobar s debut is a groundbreaking first work on the evolution and social context of coshes, jacks, saps, sandbags and related weapons He covers their origins in antiquity and how they changed over time in response to the shifting needs of various users sailors, criminals, law enforcement, and regular folk looking for self defense tools Sources for these are thin on the ground Most of the users either lived violent, marginal lives or otherwise didn t leave many written records He covers what there is and supplements it with material such as patent applications and advertisements.
While the book isn t a martial arts or defensive tactics manual, it benefits from an experienced practitioner s viewpoint There s a pragmatic emphasis on how the items were used and how the new conditions and demands, even the availability of new materials, changed them This leads inevitably into the social and historical context in which they and their users existed For someone who is not a professional historian Mr Escobar does a very creditable job placing and explaining them.
The book is well researched insofar as there are useful sources It has satisfactory breadth and depth The drawings and photos were carefully selected to illustrate rather than replace the text It is closest in spirit and scope to Gilkerson s Boarders Away.
That isn t to say it s perfect Some weapons in the Odds and Ends chapter could have done with fleshing out A few important historical and popular cultural references fell by the wayside It should have been a little longer and included catalog pages to show the range of commercially available items at various times Most of all, it suffers from being published by a small press rather than an academic publisher better editing would have tightened it up and sharpened the focus.
In the end these are minor criticisms most of which come down to the economics of publishing This book is a landmark and will be remembered as the first serious work of its kind.
I bought this book because of an interest in the featured weapons Yet the author does far than teach about their design and martial application He tells their story It is a story of rowdy sailors, Five Pointers, hobos and bulls, dangerous ruffians, tough lawmen, and This is a very well researched book If you have an interest in weapons, read it However, if you are a lover of history, then buy it outright I m glad I did.
This is a thoroughly researched, well written history of these obscure weapons Although common in their day, saps and blackjacks have almost totally disappeared from law enforcement This is an excellent reference for collectors and martial arts practitioners alike The photographs are well chosen There is no other work available of this level of detail.
Perhaps I m biased because I know the author personally, but reading this book is an awful lot like sitting down and listening to Robert Escobar speaking directly to you Granted there are a few issues of word choice and diction but the overall sense of the the text is evident I have seen and handled several of the weapons described in this book, and have even contributed to the content to a small extent Independent of my own meager contribution to this text this book is a One of a Kind history of a little studied yet ubiquitous weapon You might know them as fish whackers , priests or life savers , but the reality is they have a long and little honored history that deserves some extra attention.
Well done, Mr Escobar Saps, Blackjacks And Slungshots A History Of Forgotten Weapons Discovers And Preserves The Story Of The Most Forgotten Weapons From History For The First Time In History These Unique Fighting Tools Were Feared For Centuries And Embraced Equally By The Law And The Lawless Like Nothing Else Had Been Or Would Be Until Firearms Became Commonly Available They Are Best Remembered, When At All, For Being Favored By Real Life Muggers And Fictional Private Detectives They Were However Also Used By Police, Soldiers, Sailors, Spies, Cowboys And Duelists In Various Times And Countries Following Their Trail Takes The Reader From New York City S Infamous Bowery To The San Francisco Gold Rush, Paris S Moulin Rouge To Georgian Era London And Beyond Encountered Along The Way Is A Cast Of Characters From The Noble Abraham Lincoln To The Ignoble Al Capone , The Literary Shakespeare To The Musical Frank Sinatra For Centuries They Were An Essential Part Of Any Tough Guy S Arsenal, The Last Vestige Of This Portrayed In Classic Noir Films And booksDespite All This, Their Tale Remained Untold Until Now Robert Escobar Had Never Found A Subject With Less Available Information Looking To Correct This, He Searched Everywhere Imaginable For Their Fading Footprints, Includingpulp Comics Medieval Illustrations Court Records Victorian Self Defense Manuals Police And Criminal Histories Etymology Guides Historical Naval Accounts Newspaper Stories Ancient Ballads Medical Journals Government Reports Archeological Excavations Hobo Memoirs Folkloric Studies Interviews Conducted By The AuthorFortunately The Sum Of It All Doesn T Just Fill A Gap In The Understanding Of Countless Historical Incidents And Personages, It Entertains Saps, Blackjacks And Slungshots Were Rough Tools Used By Tough People In Tough Times Those Times And Their Dangers Have Passed But Should Be Accurately Remembered To Do That, These Strange Weapons Have To Be As Well