What's the most comprehensive book on weaponry?
February 28, 2009 6:57 PM   Subscribe

What's the most comprehensive/best book on weaponry?

I was at a flea market this morning and came across a nice but limited book on weaponry by Chuck Wills. I'm interested in getting a book that details weapons used throughout human history especially from stone, bronze and iron ages. Illustrations are a must.

I'm guessing modern/guns would probably be more comprehensive in a separate volume. If you happen to know a book for that too I would appreciate it.

I enjoy the craftsmanship, the artwork/design, and the awesome/brutality/killing factor of them.
posted by Steph1en to Grab Bag (12 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
These guys put out a great illustrated history of weapons. My copy is old, but they have revised additions according to their web site.

Chock full of stuff.
posted by Max Power at 7:05 PM on February 28, 2009

P. S. look under encyclopedias.
posted by Max Power at 7:06 PM on February 28, 2009

If you consider aircraft to be weaponry then there is Jane's All the World's Aircraft although it is crazy expensive. They also have volumes on naval vessels as well as other areas.
posted by mmascolino at 7:07 PM on February 28, 2009

If you want to see a good selection for nothing, do a title search for "Jane's" in the library catalogue your local universities, then go to the one with the most results. If they have tons of Jane's stuff, they should have a good collection in the military section (U in the Library of Congress classification). Here in Ottawa, that would be Carleton University.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 7:59 PM on February 28, 2009

Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/Arms-Armor-DK-Eyewitness-Books/dp/0756606543/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1235879891&sr=1-2

The Eyewiteness series of books have lovely pictures and their line ranges from medieval armour (as linked) and arms. They also have lines on all kinds of modern firearms. iirc, they also have books on castles and such (and by extension, siege machinery) and I rememember that they have books of dark age, reneissance, &c. weapons.

Great pictures. Pricey, though, unless you check them out from your library (which should carry them).
posted by porpoise at 8:01 PM on February 28, 2009

Osprey Publishing has great offerings, too. I like thier more esoteric books, but they are all very thorough and well illustrated.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 9:35 PM on February 28, 2009

Seconding porpoise, DK/Eyewitness is a Publisher that specializes in profusely illustrated books. Weapon: A Visual History of Arms and Armor looks like it would serve nicely.

The Greenhill Dictionary of Guns and Gunmakers: From Colt's First Patent to the Present Day, 1836-2001 is a standard reference for dealers.

Arms & Armor From the Permanent Collection and Arms and Armor: Notable Acquisitions 1991–2002 are both very good.
posted by mlis at 9:54 PM on February 28, 2009

If you don't mind going a bit old school, there's always Weapons: A Pictorial History by Edward Tunis. His drawings are beautiful in their own right, and as in all his books, he seems to capture interesting historical tidbits that you don't see anywhere else...
posted by fairmettle at 3:57 AM on March 1, 2009

This book is about swords only, but it's pretty gorgeous.
posted by cider at 4:51 AM on March 1, 2009

From Crossbow to H-Bomb -- Brodie & Brodie
is somewhat dry and dated but very useful as an overall introduction. Sparsely illustrated.

Also, seconding the suggestions above for getting more detailed, if you browse the military history section of a bookstore you'll see a lot of little books, which typically focus on a particular kind of unit in a particular conflict or time period and illustrate their uniforms, weapons and equipment, tactics, etc.

Another option are the big, honking "coffee table books" that you'll often see in the clearance section of Borders/B&N. These typically feature a lot of photography, maps, etc. Common subjects are aircraft, the World Wars, etc.

The Jane's guides were mentioned above. Their 'recognition' guides, ostensibly for spotting, are a good place to start.
Jane's Recognition Guides

Also, in this day and age the books on tanks and planes, etc, don't tell the whole story. I've found this to be grimly useful/informative:
NATO Air Launched Weapons (Jeremy Flack)

posted by snuffleupagus at 5:09 AM on March 1, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks everyone! I'll devote some time soon to going through the answers.
posted by Steph1en at 8:28 AM on March 1, 2009

Squadron Signal Publications publishes hundreds of monographs about specific airplanes, vehicles, vessels, as well as military units, tactics, and battles.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 8:05 PM on January 2, 2010

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