Most helpful critical review
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
I totally agree with authors but this book was very poorly written.
on August 19, 2008
Alan Gottlieb and Dave Workman make a noble effort in "America Fights Back" but the book is seriously flawed, in my opinion. That's surprising because the authors have very impressive credentials. In fact, Alan Gottlieb's credentials are so long that I don't have time to list them here and I wondered where he found the time to achieve so many things in his life as I read his resume. As a personal note, I want to make it clear that I am a strong 2nd Amendment supporter, a life member of the NRA, The Illinois Rifle Association, a new member of The Second Amendment Foundation (which Gottlieb founded), and a member of a couple other gun-rights groups. In short, I completely agree with the points made in this book and my viewpoint is biased.
Before I discuss what I believe are the serious flaws of this book, I will describe its thrust in one sentence: Basically, one case after another of an armed law-abiding citizen stopping a criminal attack is described, interspersed with commentary about the various issues involving gun control.
My criticisms: The stories become repetitive and redundant quickly and I found myself wishing that the authors would have written more about the underlying issues. The book almost read like 200 pages of the monthly column "Armed Citizen" that is in NRA publications except that the NRA does not express the obvious joy that the authors of this book clearly feel about the shooting of a criminal. After the 100th story about someone shooting a criminal while defending themselves, my eyes began to glaze over. I felt like saying, "O.K! I get the point!" But I already understood the point!
Secondly, the book is poorly written and edited. It is riddled with grammatical errors, punctuation errors, sentence structure errors, and even spelling errors. This does not represent the cause well and could give the wrong impression to readers who are making their own decisions about gun control. I was going to include a couple examples of that very poor writing but I honestly couldn't choose from among them. Virtually every page - almost every paragraph, in fact - is riddled with writing errors. I found myself wishing that the authors would have sent me the book for proof-reading! Some of the errors may have occurred during publishing but some of them were simply poor writing. I winced at some of them and I quickly realized that this is not a book that I would recommend to someone who is on the fence on gun control issues. In fact, I am not even recommending this book to my wife who is also an NRA member. In addition to that, the authors constantly use cliché's that become very irritating after a while. The book has a "Make my day!" tone to it that is not good for the cause of gun-rights advocates.
Another criticism is that, in one of the very first self-defense shooting descriptions of the book, the authors mention that the perpetrator of a criminal attack was an African American. Now, nobody is more sick and tired than I am of political correctness but there was absolutely no reason to mention the man's race. After all, nowhere in the book do they mention that a perpetrator was white. I am not suggesting in any way that the authors are racists but I am saying that they should have used better judgment. It was totally unnecessary and could easily be taken wrong and it, along with many of their other comments made in the book, could give someone the impression that the authors might be bitter, racist, red-necks. In fact, they don't even hide their delight at the fact that yet another "scumbag" was killed. Don't get me wrong: I agree in principle with what they are saying but their style could damage the very cause that they promote. Now, if they gave a statistical breakdown of criminal activity by race, that would be acceptable. But if I was an African American reader, that comment would have offended me. In fact, it offended me and I'm white! The authors should remember that we need to enlist the African American community in this cause and African Americans probably have more at stake in self-defense issues because they tend to live in larger cities with more prevalent crime.
That said, it should be remembered that most people who read this book are almost certainly supporters of the 2nd Amendment already. For them, this book will not change their minds. It will just confirm what they already think. The important readers to reach are the people who are gathering information on the subject but haven't yet decided what their position is. Some of those people may respond positively to this book but I think that many will be turned off by what they read.
Supporters of the 2nd Amendment should strive to make a good impression on those they are trying to influence. They should present their case thoughtfully and respectfully and they should certainly have a high degree of literacy - or at least a good editor! I have seen far too many instances where gun-rights writers put their worst foot forward and hurt the very cause that they are trying to promote. In fact, some articles I have read including an almost unbelievable and absolutely absurd and irresponsible article in The Illinois Shooter a year or two ago (the newspaper of the Illinois Rifle Association) could easily be used by gun-ban groups for propaganda purposes. Unfortunately, that is the case with this book to some degree. But for readers who are already 2nd Amendment supporters and don't mind rather poor writing, this book may have some useful information for them. As for myself, I didn't learn anything new. But I do applaud Gottlieb and Workman for their tireless efforts on behalf of 2nd Amendment supporters and law-abiding gun owners.