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The Gunning of America: Business and the…

The Gunning of America: Business and the Making of American Gun Culture

by Pamela Haag

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A deeply researched history of the American gun manufacturing industry and its development from the early national period through roughly the 1920s, with a particular focus on the Winchester firm. Disturbing, in many ways, but a fascinating read. ( )
  JBD1 | Aug 24, 2018 |
Another book that didn't match the cover flap. Unfortunately this ended up another book that happened to fit the current events and news. It sounded like an intriguing premise: a look at the Winchester family and its place with guns in US history. From the leader (Oliver) to his daughter-in-law Sarah who supposedly felt guilty about the "blood fortune".
Again, this is one of those books that *really* didn't match. The cover and subtitle are actually fine, but I was drawn to the book because of the supposed focus on the Winchester family. It's really a look at the various gun manufacturers (Colt and Remington as well) and how their business changed, developed, adapted, etc. throughout US history.
As an idea, it was great. In its execution it wasn't so much. The author's introduction also led me to think it would focus solely on the Winchester family, so forcing my perspective to shift made me think that the author was just derailing herself and was giving the reader a big info dump. It frustrates me when the book marketing does not match what the book actually ends up being about.
Perhaps I also just wasn't in the mood given the news lately, but this wasn't all that great. There's either too much detail and tangential information from what is the original premise (a focus on the Winchesters) or it's mis-marketed and it really is a history of the gun manufactures in the US.
You probably won't have your mind changed. You'll go into the book with your preconceptions and there won't be much here that you'll agree/disagree with. If you're interested in the history of Colt, Winchester, Remington, etc. this seems to be a good pickup but this ended up as a waste of time for me. Library borrow. ( )
  acciolibros | Feb 11, 2018 |
Pamela Haag's "The Gunning of America: Business and the Making of American Gun Culture" was not what I expected; and that is a good thing.

"Gunning of America" puts aside all of the politics, the protests, and the Second Amendment, it calls out what has created the American Gun Culture: the American Gun Industry. This is an "exceptional" American history book that reads like a lucid yet complex novel.

It is important to note the juxtaposition of one of the original gun industry leaders, Oliver Winchester, and the true story of his daughter-in-law, Sarah Winchester; the latter of which was "haunted by what she considered a vast blood fortune, and became convinced that the ghosts of rifle victims were haunting her."

( )
  AntonioPaola | Jan 27, 2018 |
The author views gun culture and the gun industry through a business and marketing lens. The first part of the book appears to be a simple history of the industry in the United States. When the author starts to discuss spiritual mediums, the tone does change. Overall the book does provide insights and compelling arguments for regulation of the industry. ( )
  MichaelC.Oliveira | Apr 24, 2017 |
The Gunning of America: Business and the Making of American Gun Culture by Pamela Haag (Basic Books, $29.99).

This isn’t a discussion of the Second Amendment, gun control, or the NRA. This is about the bottom line.

And as we all know, in the United States, money talks.

Historian Pamela Haag focuses on the Winchester company, founded in the 19th century by businessman Oliver Winchester, which turned the production of firearms from an artisanal work for master gunsmiths into an assembly operation with far less skilled labor. (It may also have led his daughter-in-law, Sarah Winchester, to create the labyrinth known as the Winchester mystery house as a way to protect herself from the unhappy spirits of all the people killed by guns.)

Haag is more than fair: She makes clear that Americans’ propensity for violence is not synonymous with firearms. Yes, dear reader, we know that people kill people.

But she also demonstrates, using records from the company, historical documents and secondary sources, that the business interests of the Winchesters–and, by extension, the other big gun manufacturers–demanded the cultivation of a market for firearms. Winchester did not want to rely on government purchases, which would tie him to a “boom and bust” cycle related to warmaking, and so he deliberately went after a civilian market. And Haag shows how seductive the appeal of advertising and marketing were–and how successful.

You think Big Tobacco has a lot to answer for? With any luck, The Gunning of America may be a step toward getting gun manufacturers to answer a few questions about their business models.

Reviewed on Lit/Rant: www.litrant.tumblr.com ( )
  KelMunger | Jul 14, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0465048951, Hardcover)

Americans have always loved guns. This special bond was forged during the American Revolution and sanctified by the Second Amendment. It is because of this exceptional relationship that American civilians are more heavily armed than the citizens of any other nation.

Or so we’re told.

In The Gunning of America, historian Pamela Haag overturns this conventional wisdom. American gun culture, she argues, developed not because the gun was exceptional, but precisely because it was not: guns proliferated in America because throughout most of the nation’s history, they were perceived as an unexceptional commodity, no different than buttons or typewriters.

Focusing on the history of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company, one of the most iconic arms manufacturers in America, Haag challenges many basic assumptions of how and when America became a gun culture. Under the leadership of Oliver Winchester and his heirs, the company used aggressive, sometimes ingenious sales and marketing techniques to create new markets for their product. Guns have never “sold themselves”; rather, through advertising and innovative distribution campaigns, the gun industry did. Through the meticulous examination of gun industry archives, Haag challenges the myth of a primal bond between Americans and their firearms.

Over the course of its 150 year history, the Winchester Repeating Arms Company sold over 8 million guns. But Oliver Winchester—a shirtmaker in his previous career—had no apparent qualms about a life spent arming America. His daughter-in-law Sarah Winchester was a different story. Legend holds that Sarah was haunted by what she considered a vast blood fortune, and became convinced that the ghosts of rifle victims were haunting her. She channeled much of her inheritance, and her conflicted conscience, into a monstrous estate now known as the Winchester Mystery House, where she sought refuge from this ever-expanding army of phantoms.

In this provocative and deeply-researched work of narrative history, Haag fundamentally revises the history of arms in America, and in so doing explodes the clichés that have created and sustained our lethal gun culture.

(retrieved from Amazon Sat, 16 Jan 2016 06:14:17 -0500)

"An acclaimed historian explodes the myth about the 'special relationship' between Americans and their guns, revealing that savvy 19th century businessmen--not gun lovers--created American gun culture"--

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