Osprey’s Men-At-Arms book Samurai Armies is a pretty good introduction to the warring states period of Japan. The series is more focused on men and equipment, and that is what you get here, though the three-page summary of the period is not bad.

It is a bit primitive in a couple ways, so it must be remembered that this is a 1979 book. Steven Turnbull turned into a fairly popular author on Japan in the ’80s, and is still writing today, but this was his first book. Also, Osprey was still just moving away from the stiff figure illustrations that had dominated military uniform books in the ’70s and earlier, and while the people in the color plates are shown in a variety of activities, backgrounds that might give more context of the world of these people are almost entirely absent still.

As is often the case with Osprey, the book suffers a bit from being too short; it has a good introduction to the use complicated formations in Japanese warfare, but no practical examples of how it worked out in practice, it gives a whirlwind tour of the evolution of armor styles, but you have to read very carefully to catch everything being said. On the other hand, there’s a nice three-page reproduction of a Japanese print showing how to put on armor, and another page with a print showing various ways of lacing the helmet (the reproduction isn’t so good on this one).

In all, it still stands up as a good beginning book on the subject, which is remarkable given how much more has been written on the subject since.