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Bill Grandy
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Location: Alexandria, VA USA
Joined: 25 Aug 2003
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PostPosted: Wed 31 Mar, 2010 8:59 pm    Post subject: Book Review: Venetian Rapier         Reply with quote

I received this book from Freelance Academy Press just a couple of weeks ago, and I've lost track of how many times I've read it now. To any English speaker who studies Italian rapier, this is an essential work. This is a full translation of Nicoletto Giganti's rapier treatise from the early 17th century, rendered into English by Tom Leoni. Tom has not only delivered this treatise into the hands of the English speaking world, but he has done so with a clarity that can only be done by someone who truly understands what it means to translate a historical work into a modern language. The book reads so smoothly that one could easily forget that it wasn't written in modern English to begin with. I have worked with broken translations of this text for years, and never before have I been able to read through it so easily and so clearly as I have with this book.

Giganti's work has somewhat of a soft spot for me because it is such a concise yet "to the point" work when compared to his contemporaries. The treatise of Fabris (my personal favorite) is highly detailed and very technical, and while this is a good thing in the long run, its harder to simply dive into when compared to Giganti's work. The treatise by Capoferro is not well worded, and is sometimes confusing in its organization. Giganti's treatise is far better organized, and much more clearly presented. The work of Alfieri is better organized than Capoferro, but still doesn't quite have the same sort of direct pragmatism that Giganti's words have. In short, this book is in many ways a cornerstone of the Italian rapier family in that it succinctly sums up the art in short order, but manages to be quite thorough in so few pages.

The book also includes and introduction to terminology and concepts within the greater Italian rapier system, written by Tom Leoni, which is a very good primer to anyone who is newer to Italian rapier and wants to work directly from the primary source, particularly if you have never worked with any of the other contemporary Italian treatises.

Best of all, this book is cheap at only $20 USD. Compare this to any other translation, particularly one of this caliber, and you'll see right away that this is a steal. I honestly can't see how anyone who studies Italian rapier can go without this book. Even if you are not a practitioner, but want to understand the heart and soul of this system, this is perhaps the easiest book to sink your teeth into. I've practically required all of my students to purchase a copy.

Virginia Academy of Fencing Historical Swordsmanship
--German Longsword & Italian Rapier in the DC Area--


"A despondent heart will always be defeated regardless of skill."
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