What red-blooded American youth isn't fascinated by knights in shining armor? The Yues (Christopher Columbus, 1992, etc.) here present the facts behind the shine. They don't romanticize knighthood or flinch from outlining the brutalities of war. But the focus here is, of course, on the outfit. The authors tell how armor was developed, made, and worn, and they provide a fair amount of history. (Armor was one of the most important aspects of warfare from the fall of the Roman empire until the 16th century -- about 1,000 years.) They show in great detail how mail and plate were constructed, how the knight got dressed, how the suit was designed for maximum protection and ease of movement. Although detailed, the explanations are never tedious. The one disappointment here are the black-and-white drawings. They are functional, but uninspired. Not soaring, but a clear and informative history.