A Sure Defense


The Bowie Knife in America
Mark Zalesky and William B. Worthen


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Built upon excellent scholarship, coupled with exquisite graphics of more than 200 important knives, this authoritative text tells the story of the bowie knife, an early American weapon and one of the most iconic objects in American history.

With over 400 pages, this book provides an in-depth history of the bowie knife, from its inception in the 1830s to its modern revival including knives owned by Jim Bowie himself as well as Davy Crockett, Theodore Roosevelt, and Gen. Winfield Scott.

William B. Worthen served as director of Historic Arkansas Museum for more than 40 years. During his lengthy tenure, he oversaw the restoration, reconstruction, and interpretation of significant historic buildings on HAM’s campus. He has also published numerous articles and books on the subject of Arkansas history, including the two-volume study of Arkansas’s creative legacy, Arkansas Made, a project he co-wrote with current HAM director, Swannee Bennett. Over the course of his career at the museum, Worthen focused his research on the history of knives and knife making. His exhaustive research on Washington, Arkansas’s James Black brought that early bowie knife maker back into the spotlight after decades of popular skepticism. 

Mark Zalesky’s knowledge of knives and related items is widely recognized. He has penned hundreds of articles about knives and has served as an appraiser, museum consultant, and is a director of the Antique Bowie Knife Association. Further, he is the editor and publisher of KNIFE Magazine, a monthly publication with which he has had a longtime association.

Historic Arkansas Museum (HAM) is a history and historic site museum located in the heart of downtown Little Rock.  A museum of the Department of Arkansas Heritage, Historic Arkansas Museum is the state’s foremost interpreter of frontier Arkansas and home of the largest collection of Arkansas-made fine, mechanical, and decorative arts.