Although Fairbairn and Applegate are often cited as the premier close-combat authorities of WWII, when it comes to detailed, well-illustrated knife and bayonet technique, Styers’ Cold Steel is by far the best of the era. With all due respect to the other close-combat legends, their treatment of knife fighting was so simple and abbreviated that it really didn’t provide much substantial information. Styers, on the contrary, used an excellent balance of text and dynamic sequence photos to create a truly instructional guide.

Styers’ classic approach to knife technique is based primarily on saber fencing technique and includes many of its traditional elements. Nevertheless, it is still the most thorough treatment of its time.

Also of interest is Styers’ emphasis on proper body mechanics to generate power (something that is often poorly understood and laughably demonstrated in WWII training materials) and the commonality of body mechanics in unarmed and armed tactics.

While not perfect (Styers’ technique of overhand knife throwing leaves a lot to be desired), it is still one of the best books of the era and belongs in the library of every serious student of close-combat.

Michael D. Janich