My book Bowie Knife Fights, Fighters, and Fighting Techniques is available from Paladin Press. This blog contains additional information about the bowie knife, as well as the fighting knives of other nations.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Bowie Knife Book


Big day at the Kirchner house—I got my first copies of my latest Paladin Press book, Bowie Knife Fights, Fighters, and Fighting Techniques.

The book is 376 pages (excluding the introduction) and has almost 500 footnotes citing sources. As there are few photos or prints depicting bowie-knife fights available, I illustrated the book myself. It has about 20 action scenes, as well as about 30 illustrations of various bowie knives.

I was enthused about writing this book because it covers an area of American fighting history that has gone largely unreported—that of bowie-knife fighting. There are any number of books chronicling American gunfighters, both heroes and villains, but no one has previously attempted to do the same for knife fighters, except for the biographies of Jim Bowie. Perhaps the subject of knife fighting is distasteful to most people, but the bowie knife played a significant part in the most dramatic episodes of the 19th century. I gathered the most interesting stories that I could find from sources that would have been impossible to access before the recent digitization of so many newspaper archives and pre-copyright books. I also made ample use of the fantastic collection of books and microfilm at the Yale Library.

I cover the role of the bowie knife in events such as the Texas War of Independence, the California gold rush, the Civil War, Indian fighting, etc. I profile noteworthy knife fighters, some in sub-chapters that are part of larger historical categories, and the four “greatest” in chapters of their own. I devote a lengthy chapter to authentic knife-fighting techniques drawn from books and newspaper articles of the period, rather than the “deductive reasoning” employed by most books on the subject. I also use compilations of accounts as data points to show what happened when the man with the bowie went up against a man with a stick or a man with a gun. I also cover topics such as throwing the bowie knife and its use as a defense against dangerous game.

One of the things that makes the knife fighting of the 19th century so interesting is that it so often involves people of consequence—congressmen, bankers, lawyers, doctors, businessmen, and military officers. The news reports often have a level of detail abut the fights and the resulting wounds that is unheard-of today, but that is of great interest to students of knife fighting. In the 20th century, not only do the people involved in knife fights tend to be inconsequential dirtbags, but the reports include so little detail as to render them devoid of interest. One area where this is not the case is in warfare, and I have carried the story of the fighting knife into the wars of the 20th and 21st centuries in a lengthy concluding chapter that covers scores of incidents.

  Illustration of Cassius Clay after he killed Cyrus Turner

Table of Contents
Introduction
The Original Bowie-Knife Fighter: James Bowie
            --Bowie-Knife Fighter: John T. Bowie
The Texas War of Independence
That Fatal Instrument, the Bowie Knife
            --Bowie-Knife Fighters: John Wilson and Joseph J. Anthony
Bowie Knife Fighting Techniques
            --Spanish Technique
            --Mexican and South American Techniques
            --American Knife Fighting
            --Basic Knife Grips
Carrying the Bowie
Gentlemen Stabbers
            --Bowie-Knife Fighters: Edward C. Wilkinson and John Murdaugh
            --Bowie-Knife Fighter: William Cassius Goodloe
Runaway Slaves & Slave Catchers
Brothers of the Bowie: the Wallaces
Second Greatest Bowie-Knife Fighter: Cassius Marcellus Clay
Mexican-American War
            --Bowie-Knife Fighter: George F. A. Ruxton
Texas
            --Bowie-Knife Fighter: Jim Boyd
            --Bowie–Knife Fighter: Dee Harkey
Bowie Knife Versus Stick
The Gold Rush & California
            --Bowie-Knife Fighter: Jonathan R. Davis
            --Bowie-Knife Fighter: Sam Brown
            --Bowie-Knife Fighter: William H. Mayfield
Third Greatest Bowie-Knife Fighter: David S. Terry
Bowie Knife Versus Pistol
The Bowie Goes to College
            --Bowie Knife Fighter: David Flournoy
Latter-Day Saints
            --Bowie-Knife Fighter: Jason Luce
Bowie Knife and Pistol
Bleeding Kansas
            --Bowie Knife Fighter: John Brown
The Civil War
            --Bowie-Knife Fighter: James Keelan
            --Bowie-Knife Fighter: Nathan Bedford Forrest
The Lincoln Assassination
            --Bowie-Knife Fighter: Lewis Powell
            --Bowie-Knife Fighter: John Wilkes Booth
The Bowie Heads West
            --Bowie-Knife Fighter: James Carrigan
            --Bowie-Knife Fighter: Richard Hanson Weightman
            --Bowie-Knife Fighter: “Poker Jack” Quail
            --Bowie-Knife Fighter: Sam Hildebrand
Throwing the Bowie
Indian Fights
            --Bowie-Knife Fighter: William F. Drannan
            --Bowie-Knife Fighter: Martinez Corea
Bowie Knife Fights and Duels
            --Bowie-Knife Fighter: Leigh Reed
            --Bowie-Knife Fighter: John F. Potter
Unusual Knife Duels
Fourth Greatest Bowie-Knife Fighter: Jack Chinn
Bowie Knife Myths and Misconceptions
            --Knife-Fighting Schools
            --The Bowie-Knife Fighting Manual
            --Jim Bowie’s Knife Technique
            --The Brass-Backed Bowie
            --Bowie Knife or Arkansas Toothpick?
Bowie Versus Beast
Bowies and Big Blades in Modern Warfare
            --Bolo-Knife Fighter: Henry Johnson
            --Knife Fighter: Duff W. Matson
            --Bowie Knife Fighter: Bardon Blizzard
Select Bibliography

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