Thoughtfully composed for people who never read forewords . . . and therefore brief. Not that there is much to say. The customary amenities are quickly disposed of: We wish to thank everyone who had the steely nerves and saintly patience to put up with us in the wakes of crises these past fifteen months that seemed time and again to have brought our cherished project to the edge of doom, and three times to have pushed it over; we thank the usual typists, the kind helpers with files and surly postmen and photos, the fetchers of coffee and the smokers who forebore in our virtuous presence, and Clara Gellerman who one day upped and silhouetted the gloomy background out of all of Dr. Hoope’s photographs because she is good, brave and a wow with chinawhite. We thank all whom we haven’t yet, and hope ruefully they’ll bear up again under the strain of volume two in preparation.
That done, a micro-history of the Arms and Armor Annual may prove bearable. About three years ago we mentioned over lunch to our good friend and colleague, Mr. Gun Digest, alias John T. Amber, how much a pity it was that good historical-weapons literature in America and in Europe seems to be fragmented into cells scattered throughout publica¬ tions at times very difficult to come by even if excellent, or with unsatisfactory quality standards for illustrations reproductions, or very narrowly limited to specialized subject ranges, or overblown in graphic make-up to mask the paucity of substance in the comments, and so on.
For modern firearms and allied matters there were several noteworthy annual compendia here and abroad, conspicuous among them of course Mr. Amber’s own inimitable Digest. Monthlies and bi-monthlies in the habit of dedicating some space to antiques were not rare, though with but two or three exceptions in America and two in Europe, the quality of scholarship and of literary as well as graphic presentation is usually mediocre. Why could there not be a species of Gun Digest dedicated exclusively to historical arms and armor and all that bears on these in any way worth setting down for serious study?—Any subject from stone age axes to, say, the advent of modern cartridge repeaters, treated by students of international stature and presented elegantly without ostentation, richly without silly (and costly) frills, scholarly but readable, meticulous but not tedious, and open to all viewpoints without prejudice or censure?
We shall spare you, reader, the moving, gripping and sometimes gruesome account of Arms and Armor Annual’s gestation. One dislikes thinking back on how many times defeat seemed snatched from the jaws of victory: the pessimists had been right, no worthwhile contributor could be budged or, if budged, rushed; postal strikes in Britian and Italy, with six-month repercussions everywhere, left manuscripts and unduplieatable photographs in forgotten boxcars on ungodly switchyard sidings, telexes to Northfield clicked off in a health resort in Peru, the designed and desired range of subject matter would not shape up and seemed incapable of being shaped. We flew hundreds of air hours all over Europe and America; we begged and bought, wheedled and frowned, laughed and growled, spoke softly and carried a big perseverance . . . and somehow it began to float. Eighteen months later it gave an airborne quiver. And now, judging by some initial responses, it seems to soar serenely on its maiden flight.