On this page I will list books about F-S knives and British Commandos. I will let you know which ones I found of interest or value. I will also consider posting brief reviews from other readers or authors. I have personally purchased these books and I am not receiving any compensation to promote them. They are listed in no special order! Where to look for them? Obviously Amazon, Abe Books, Alibris, and Ebay. Ratings are totally subjective: 1 to 5, five being highest. Newest additions to the list are at the top.
4.95 No Queensbury Rules; Paul R. Child & Nicholas Tyler. If your desire is to learn more about Fairbairn and Sykes, the men, this is the book to buy. The research into family backgrounds and the careers of the men is impressive. You will feel as though you finally know them as men and not legendary figures. The book is over 375 pages, hard bound on nice quality paper. It is extensively illustrated with documents and weapons of the day. The only reason I did not give it a full five is because some of the photos are very light and lack clarity. I realize they are dealing with very old photos in some instances so perhaps this is an unfair judgement. It is not an inexpensive book selling for 30 pounds plus shipping.
5.0+ The World's First SWAT Team; Leroy Thompson. I actually rate this book higher than a five! If you are interested in the Fairbairn-Sykes knife, and the men, then you need to read this book. It details the international pot boiling over with murder, drugs, kidnapping, extortion prostitution and every crime known to man. This book describes the life of the men in the SMP (Shanghai Municipal Police) and their daily struggles to maintain order. Over 200 pages hardbound with excellent and a generous amount of photographs.
4.9 Camp-X; David Stafford. This book provides a deep look into the establishment of one of North America's primary training centers for espionage and behind the lines operations. The men who trained and taught there as well as the courses taught are all detailed. Camp-X was also a major communications link between the USA, Canada, and the UK. Over 300 pages long it is perhaps the definitive history of a site which is no longer in existence. There are several pages of photos of the staff and buildings. Many men and women who were in the OSS and SOE trained here. The photos that are provided are good. Too bad there were not more of them but then this was a "secret camp."
5.0 Wilkinson and the F.S. Fighting Knife, 2nd Edition; Robert Wilkiinson-Latham. Note this is the 2nd edition. The first one had numerous errors and correction which required a reprint. RWL has access to the existent records of the Wilkinson Sword Co. So as he plows through them he continues to uncover gems like documentation legitimizing the 1st patterns with three inch guards. Yes these are the same knives he spuriously denounced as fakes in his first edition and on forums. But I give him credit for admitting to his errors and putting things aright in print. The book is filled with nuggets of valuable information and quite good photos as well as copies of Wilkinson files, invoices, etc. The book is about 210 pages long. It is only fair to recognize that the Wilkinson files will only reveal the Wilkinson story while many other makers were actively crafting F-S knives during the war. Many small companies and individuals were busy turning out fighting knives and daggers.
5.0 The First Commando Knives: Prof. Kelly Yeaton, Samuel Yeaton, Rex Applegate. Not to be confused with the earliest commando knives. This is the story of the Shanghai years and the knives developed there.This is the story as it could only be told by Kelly Yeaton and his brother Samuel. Another Phillips Publications but with larger and clearer photos. There is information in here that is unavailable anywhere else! There is still much more to the Yeaton story which I hope to provide in my book. Phillips Publications did a nice job with this book.
4.9 Clandestine Edged Weapons: Dr. William Windrum. One of my favorites on the subject of clandestine knives. Seventy four pages long and filled with photos. Dr. Windrum was disappointed with the small size and darkness of some of the images. Still it is one of the best books there is on the subject. Why Phillips Publications has not continued to offer them is beyond me. I suspect it has to do with the unfounded aspersions some authors have cast against Dr. Windrum's writing and his association with Peter Mason. I give it a 4.9 despite the small photos.
4.8 The Earliest Commando Knives: William Windrum. A terrific companion to the book on clandestine knives. Eighty pages long with the same quality of paper and photos as all other books in this series. Again, now hard to find and therefore extremely expensive. Many of the negative comments by other authors about Windrum's research will be dispelled once my own book goes to print. I talked to Phillips Publications about printing my book but they were very luke warm about reviewing my manuscript. Rated a 4.8 due to the dark photos.
Defendu, All In Fighting, Get Tough, Scientific Self-Defence, Shooting to Live. These are all must-have books for the serious F-S collector and reader. I recommend reading all of the Fairbairn and Sykes manuals to get a flavor for the men and their times. Get Tough is probably still my favorite of all. Another one worth reading is the techniques intended for use with the Fairbairn Cobra. It is posted on the internet and if i find the link again i will list it. Unfortunately none of the illustrations are provided with the article. Here is the link to copy and paste. Be aware that the text might take some editing!
4.9 Commando Country: Stuart Allan. Superb book on the training methods and various sites used in the Highlands of Scotland. The book gives credit to the broad spectrum of dedicated instructors employed in teaching Brits, French, Poles, Jews, Canadians, Americans, Scandinavians, and Germans as commandos and resistance fighters. Fair descriptions of the curriculum and how it was varied to meet the demands of different troops including Police and the Home Guard. I would have liked to see more detail of the training syllabus.
5.0 British and Commonwealth Military Knives: Ron Flook. This is an excellent reference book which is getting harder to find and therefore more expensive. It is still worth the money and is filled with hundreds of high quality photos of all of the standard models and many variants. It is hardbound, over 250 pages long and printed on high quality paper. If you can find a copy I highly recommend buying it.
4.5 The Fairbairn-Sykes Fighting Knife and Other Commando Knives: Ron Flook. A more recent book by Mr. Flook with an incredibly long and silly title. The book is over 260 pages long, again, printed on good quality paper. It is in paperback and very well illustrated and has some exciting new documentation on the development of the F-S, and in particular, it finally acknowledges the legitimacy of the First Pattern Knives with three inch long guards. The section on etched or named knives is extensive and has some previously unseen and lovely knives. I recommend the book although I totally disagree with Mr. Flook over some of the knives he has called fakes. He and I have long agreed to disagree on that topic! This book is easy to find on Ebay and well worth the money.
4.8 Commando Dagger: Leroy Thompson. Considered one of the early staples in F-S knife books, it is still in print in paperback. It is 164 pages long and covers all of the standard models and some of the lesser known knives. Mr. Thompson also illustrates many of the post war models. The photos are excellent with good detailed shots of guards and markings. One of the more affordable references today by a man who has written hundreds of articles in magazines and books on the F-S, other fighting knives, and firearms of the world. I have several copies including one of the first hardbound copies. The author was a friend of Dorothea Fairbairn and many of the men who carried these knives and is himself an expert in Executive Protection. It has been my pleasure to know him and to have bought many fine knives from him.
4.5 Knives of War: Gordon Hughes, Barry Jenkins, and Robert Buerlein. Some of the top names in the writing world when it comes to fighting knives. This paperback is 120 pages long and a compilation of many articles covering a broad array of WW-II fighting knives. It is copiously illustrated with line drawings instead of photographs. If you are into fighting knives a copy of this book should be on your shelves. It is very affordable and highly informative.
4.8 The Fairbairn-Sykes Fighting Knife: Wolfgang Peter-Michel. Hardbound and 158 pages long on high grade paper. This book has all color photos and is very nicely illustrated. In some of the photos the red tint is excessive, probably the fault of the printer. The clarity of the photos is very good. The author also provides some fresh insight into the evolution of the knife from model to model and brief biographies of both Fairbairn and Sykes. I feel the price is a little high but the quality of the book makes up for it.
4.8 Allied Military Fighting Knives: Robert Buerlein: An exceptional book, and Author. I have bought dozens of F-S Commando knives, Ek knives, and books from Mr. Buerlein. He is a pleasure to deal with and his book covers Ek, USMC Stiletto, the Case V-42, and many F-S knives. It is still available I believe in paperback. I bought one of the first editions covered in red leather. The photos are B&W but clear. The paper is good quality although I am less familiar with the newer printing. Again I recommend the book for its coverage of some of the lesser known variants and the V-42 etc. The paper bound book would rate a little lower.
4.0 Fighting Knives: Frederick Stephens. One of the old standby reference books on fighting knives. It has become increasingly hard to find. Hardbound and 125 pages long. It does have some material not found in the other books. The photos are a little dark and smallish. But there is a great section on knuckle knives like Dudley of Robbins and others. It also includes chapters on German fighting knives, WW-I trench knives, and some clandestine weapons. If you find a copy I would buy it, but I believe the previous books listed would be preferential I think.
4.8 Fairbairn-Sykes Commando Dagger: Leroy Thompson. Paperback 80 pages with copious illustrations. Excellent book for a modest price by a noted author. Part of the Osprey Series of weapons books. Great book for the price.
3.8 Collector's Guide to the Fairbairn - Sykes Fighting Knife. Commando 1940 - 1945: Alan Locken. This is a small paperback book nicely illustrated with line drawings. The drawings are excellent quality, but nothing justifies the crazy prices being asked for this out of print primer by Alan Locken. Yes I own a copy but i bought it when it was in print and more affordable. It deserves a reprint to bring the price back into reason.
4.0 Military Knives: A Reference Book - From the Pages of Knife World Magazine Paperback: Frank Trzaska, Mike Silvey, William Windrum an excellent compendium of articles on various WW-II era fighting knives by some of the top authors.
4.8 Theater Made Military Knives of World War II: Bill & Debbie Wright. An excellent resource book of knives made in the theater or for men going off to war. Some very high quality knives and some make-do ones. Highly illustrated with color photos, hardbound, 260+ pages on high grade paper. This is the best book ever printed on the topic of non-factory made knives from the USA.
3.8 A Primer of Military Knives, Part One & Part Two: Gordon Hughes & Barry Jenkins. These two paperback volumes are filled with very well done line drawings and minimal descriptions of some very rare knives. They are found in several sizes and printings and are long out of print. They are hard to find, but for a serious collector of either fighting knives or books about them, they are some of the earliest authoritative texts written. I would have rated them higher but the print is minuscule and the price for them today is sometimes really high. They are about 50 pages each I am guessing.