I know quite a few people are already familiar with this, but for the benefit of those who aren't, this is a review I just posted on amazon:
Jay Wiseman's Erotic Bondage Handbook (Greenery Press) can be considered to be one of the 'classic' texts, in that if you ask people into BDSM to recommend books, this is one of the titles which tends to be named.
As someone who has been into bondage my entire adult life, but who relies on a relatively small number of techniques, I thought it might be interesting to broaden my repertoire.
Let's start with the bad news. The language, style, degree of repetition and statements of the stunningly obvious all combine to give the impression that the first third or so of the book was written with ten-year-olds in mind. Harsh? Written from the perspective of the experienced bondage practitioner? Well, allow me to illustrate ...
'Probably the most common reason that bondage is applied to a consenting partner is to restrict, in one way or another, their ability to move.'
'A sleepy or exhausted top will find it essentially impossible to remain properly alert.'
'It can be dangerous for the bottom to use a knife or other sharp object to cut themselves free if they cannot see where they are cutting.'
'The risk level seems to dramatically increase if the self-bound person unexpectedly falls.'
I could go on, but you get the idea.
Being an American book, Wiseman was clearly also looking over his shoulder for law-suits as he wrote, with almost every other page containing something like 'SM play should only be done by people who are adequately informed of the nature of what they are doing and who are mentally competent to decide for themselves whether or not this is something that they want to do.' All true, but if you are the type of person who needs this to be pointed out to you, you automatically fall into the 'not mentally competent' category (and are also unlikely to be reading the book) ...
These type of statements, and entire paragraphs devoted to points which could be more effectively made in a single sentence, take up the first 85 pages of the book. Remove the padding, and there is probably about 15 pages of real material in this section. It's a great shame because frustration with the verbose and patronising style could easily lead the reader to miss some crucial material and cut to the chase.
Other bad news? Well, the book could use a few more illustrations, and some points would be more effectively made by photographs, but that would increase the price. Oh, and there's a boxed-out quote every few pages which is usually completely unrelated to the text on the page and thus adds to the sense of pointless padding.
I suspect the book was deliberately padded to give it a more credible page-count. Were it significantly slimmer, it might have been harder to believe that the book really was a comprehensive handbook covering most major bondage techniques. But - apart from suspension - that's exactly what it is. And that's the good news.
Every major type of tie is covered, usually with several variants. Each technique is well explained, usually well illustrated and has an excellent discussion of the considerations applicable to that type of tie. Unlike the earlier section of the book, the safety advice here is generally thoughtful and useful.
There is also a good discussion of the different types of equipment, for example the different materials and manufacturing techniques used for rope, and the pros and cons for each. Here again the safety information is excellent, for example explaining why eye-bolts are much safer than screw-eyes (it is very rare for the former to fail, but very common for the latter).
The step-by-step approach and level of explanation appeared suitable for complete beginners, while still containing plenty of material of interest to those of us who have been tying people up for many years!
Do I wish Wiseman or his editor would take a pair of paramedic shears to the first 85 pages of the book? Absolutely. Would I recommend this book to anyone into bondage, no matter what their experience level? Absolutely.