Chris Kyle, author of American Sniper, tells the story of US history through the lens of ten guns that have greatly shaped it.
American Gun begins by saying, “More than any other nation in history, the United States has been shaped by the gun.”
This book features such a unique concept—American history told through the stories of ten guns. Each gun has greatly influenced our history and in some cases even changed the course of a particular incident.
In profiling each gun, Kyle talks about the specifications and qualities of each gun as well as how reliable it was, how effective it was, and what it was like to fire. He tells the story of the gun’s invention, including a short biography of the gun’s inventor
. And finally, he tells stories of incidents in US history that featured the particular gun. All of these stories are fascinating! They are extremely fun to read.
One of my favorite stories was about the American Long Rifle in the hands of Daniel Morgan’s sharpshooters in the Revolutionary War. Another favorite story was about the Winchester 1873 Rifle in the shootout with the Dalton gang.
The book is good about explaining technical details in an understandable way. Kyle describes how old weapons were fired. It wasn’t as simple as pulling the trigger, but was sometimes a complicated process.
The book’s tone is highly patriotic. Kyle’s writing style is conversational, funny, and instantly likable.
Depending on your view and knowledge of guns, you might or might not particularly like this book. But if you like history, you’ll like this book. Kyle’s view on guns was certainly agreeable. He wasn’t obsessed with them and thought of them merely as a tool in the hands of good or bad men.
I recommend this to:
- Gun enthusiasts.
- History buffs.
• Abe Lincoln was a gun buff and technology whiz. Other presidents before him—including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Andrew Jackson—were highly gun-savvy, as were most Americans at a time when the nation was primarily rural.
• You can’t win a war in your head, but if your head ain’t right, you’ve got no chance at all.
• The Civil War was the world’s last muzzleloader war.
• In the second half of the nineteenth century, the Western frontier began filling up with a motley cast of characters: miners, trappers, buffalo hunters, cattle rustlers, gamblers, outlaws, opportunists. In the midst of such company—and with the law still an irregular presence—you were well served to know your way around a gun.
• Not only were Americans taming the West, they were taming themselves.
• For many settlers and for millions more who would follow, the opening of the West offered opportunity and freedom. That frontier spirit is still branded into our national character.
• Inspect a Browning design—any Browning design—and you can see the influence of the American frontier. Survival in the West depended on keeping things simple, and making them tough. The simpler and more rugged, the better. It is the winning formula for a gun, or for any tool really.
• Guns are a product of their time.
• Our victories in the past are no guarantee for the future. What has been won can always be lost. But the past can show us the way to the future. It can give us hope: The men and women in this book did it; we can too.
Have you read this book? If so, what did you think? If not, are you interested in reading it?