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American Gun: A History of the U.S. in Ten Firearms

by Chris Kyle

Other authors: William Doyle

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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260976,613 (3.71)7
In "American Gun", the deadliest sniper in U.S. history tracks down and shoots the most important American firearms, from a flintlock rifle to a Colt revolver to the latest high-tech weapon he used as a SEAL. Chris Kyle uses these guns as a window on United States history, making the sweeping argument that the American story has been tied to and shaped by the gun.… (more)
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» See also 7 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
I really enjoyed the information about the author and understand how much guns mean to him as being a hunter and a soldier. The author states that "Perhaps more than any other nation in the world the history of the United States has been shaped by the gun. Firearms secured the first Europeans' hold on the continent, opened the frontier, helped win our independence, settled the West, kept law and order, and defeated tyranny across the world."

Chris's view of history is interesting and I enjoyed the stories that you don't get in your average history textbook. However, I found that the general text jumped around a little too much for me. On the other hand, my husband picked up the book and read it cover to cover in two days and wanted more. ( )
  pjburnswriter | Aug 6, 2020 |
Excellent. I paid 75 cents for it used; I would have paid more than full price for it new if I had known it would be well worth it.

This is more of a history book than it is a technical treatise on arms. Any technical discussion of gun details is on a level of explanation for the layman while brief enough to not tire a seasoned aficionado. Where the book really shines is the historical story-telling. Chief Kyle is able to seamlessly weave the advancement of our republic and its ideals together with advancements in firearms design, along with the tactics and histories behind them of military, law enforcement and even the bad guys. One is left with the strong impression that our great nation and the values we hold dear would have been shaped quite differently without men like Colt, Browning and even the unnamed smith working a frontier forge beside a winding creek.

Nearly every chapter starts with vibrant story-telling of an event that could be a simple historical footnote, a mere Trivial Pursuit question, but turns out to be a pivotal moment showcasing the weapon that soon comes under discussion. Each gun in the list of ten is treated as a springboard for discussion of other guns - advancements along the way and competitors - as well as relevant social, military and economic history that surrounds the gun's development and need. For example, the story of the .38 Special police revolver would not be told without a brief history of American police departments and their weapons needs, and even the later guns that replaced the .38, like the Glock 17 and others. That is one example of how each chapter delves into telling the story of America, centered on the gun. The gun is not the point - the American way of life that the gun helped secure is. Hence, I recommend this book to anyone interested in what it means to be an American, whether or not they are familiar with or even interested in guns.

The book could be slighted by some for the author occasionally (and especially in the latter chapters) interjecting himself and his experience into the story. I do not find this a detriment. Rather, it gives the book an authentic feel, more like stories told by a warm veteran uncle than a cold historian academic. And after all, who would read a book by a celebrated warrior and expect him not to share his experience?

My only minor (very minor) complaint is a matter of personal preference. I wish the references, footnotes and explanatory remarks were at the bottom of each page or at the least, at the end of each chapter. I prefer to read them along with the text, and in a way easy to cross-reference with the text. Instead, they are relegated to a back page without a really decent system of reference to the text. There are no superscript numerals, asterisks or other referencing to make reading the footnotes easy. But alas, maybe that book would read more like the cold academic in the musty library and less like the fun uncle telling stories on the back porch. ( )
  vicmowery | May 25, 2020 |
Really a fantastic book. It's about a subject near and dear to my heart and the stories that Chris Kyle and William Doyle share throughout their book really make the guns they talk about and their history in United States come alive. Do I agree that their list is an absolutely definitive one? No, probably not. There were guns that greatly influenced and continue to influence our culture and that of gun people that weren't touched upon at all. The point is that the list they choose was a brilliant one. All 10 of the firearms in the list undeniably have had a huge impact and have some amazing stories to be told. I highly recommend this book for anyone who is confused as to why some folks are so into guns. The love and interest that Kyle showed in writing this book will help people understand a little bit more. ( )
  knfmn | Dec 22, 2016 |
A really very good look at American Hisotry through the lens of firearms and the people that wielded them. Exciting, engaging, informing and easy reading, this is history at its best, coupled with an easy going descriptive style, that never makes the subject boring or dry. This is biased, but the author has enough experience to make his biases worth listening too, and this is not necessarily an academic tome and all the better for it. Very good and highly recommended, even for the general reader. ( )
  aadyer | Aug 4, 2015 |
Some of the stories were interesting and even merited further perusal. However, the author was clearly no historian and he presented his "history" through the biased, patriotic lenses of "American badassery". I am fascinated with the topic and consider this book as a precursor to a primer of a historic work. Once I found a way to ignore the blatant biases, I could let this book be the spark to the idea that there is a vast history of guns out there. I only hope I can find an author who is truly up to the academic and literary challenge (unlike this author). ( )
  jimocracy | Apr 18, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Chris Kyleprimary authorall editionscalculated
Doyle, Williamsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Pruden, johnNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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In "American Gun", the deadliest sniper in U.S. history tracks down and shoots the most important American firearms, from a flintlock rifle to a Colt revolver to the latest high-tech weapon he used as a SEAL. Chris Kyle uses these guns as a window on United States history, making the sweeping argument that the American story has been tied to and shaped by the gun.

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