<<Then explain why Nikon states that a shutter speed faster than the general rule of the focal length is recommended?>>
This has been a bug bear of mine for years. Only the other day I mentioned that the whole issue of acceptable shutter speeds in another forum here, in that case both handheld and when to use VR as the VR is not covered well by Nikon. Thom Hogan is the only commentator I've read who has bothered to explain when and when not to use VR and the consideration of high shutter speeds. Now, back to the issue.
It has been a principle of photography and this applied mostly to handheld, that a speed of x1.5 of focal length should be used to avoid camera shake. With my D800 and either my 24-70mm f2.8 or 50mm f1.8 I can go as low as 1/60 and not experience poor quality shots provided I match it with a required aperture, say f8. However, there is always a risk of loosing a desired shot at slow speeds and to negate that up and up go my shutter speeds.
I usually use a tripod for my landscape or portrait shots, but I'm not shy of using 1/60 or even have had success at 1/50th to get "that" shot, once again with a higher shutter speed than the lens focal length. This is even more important with long lenses and as such I never capture below 1/600 with a 300mm lens handheld.
In short, I see no reason why one should be forced to use a tripod to achieve sharp shots as long as a suitable shutter speed matched to the desired aperture is used. Obviously studio and some wedding photography etc. will sometimes benefit the use of a tripod, but much I see of those genres is achieved handheld.
To conclude, I feel that Nikon should produce a generic, definitive dSLR manual, forgetting the camera model. There's a lot more to getting it right than is contained in either their Technical or User manuals. I think Nikon have missed a trick not publishing something better than they do. Thank Goodness for the other writers and commentators, oh and of course the folks on here