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130 of 138 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Truth Can Be Hard To Swallow
Thomas Jefferson noted (I believe adroitly) that "Laws that forbid the carrying of arms disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed...
Published on February 9, 2007 by S. Seigel

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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good book, but it won't convince those who "know" it isn't so
A few years ago Michael Bellsiles wrote a book claiming that early Americans didn't own guns, didn't have them, and that historical documentation proved it. He was widely discredited even by many of his anti-gun peers when it was found that much of his research was false or totally inaccurate.

Clayton Cramer spent five years researching the same records...
Published on July 15, 2007 by A. Burchfield


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130 of 138 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Truth Can Be Hard To Swallow, February 9, 2007
By 
S. Seigel (Planet Earth) - See all my reviews
Thomas Jefferson noted (I believe adroitly) that "Laws that forbid the carrying of arms disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man."

Michael A. Bellesiles "Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture" (2000), argued that over the course of United States history guns were substantially rarer, and more rigorously controlled, than popular culture (and particularly gun-rights advocates) want us to think. For pandering to the vast, far-left-leaning communications/education machine, he was copiously honored and praised for his work; he was even awarded the Bancroft Prize, America's highest award for a history book!

Just two years later, Bellesiles' scholarship had been exposed as a sham. This resulted in the loss of his professorship at Emory University. His Bancroft was withdrawn and his publisher removed his book from circulation.

More than anyone else, the person who made this all possible was Clayton Cramer. In "Armed America: The Remarkable Story of How and Why Guns Became as American as Apple Pie," Cramer debunks an era of anti-gun myths. He also guides his readers on a survey of surprising history. Cramer truly lays the foundation of America's gun culture bare--and brilliantly supports his position that this aspect of America has contributed mightily to the greatness of the nation.

Cramer's book challenges numerous popular conceptions, its scholarship is extremely solid--and its subject is increasingly relevant. It may seem that the needs of society today are increasingly at odds with our Second Amendment rights. However, my sense is that this appearance is more likely to be the result media and academic of craftiness than any true indication of changes in human nature!

I almost gave it 5 stars, but I am hesitant to class this book with timeless classics. Nevertheless, I highly recommend it for all readers who cherish freedom (and are over 17 years of age)!
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82 of 87 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eye opening book, March 11, 2007
Review of Book that Appeared in the March 11, 2007 New York Post

Did you know that in New York City, through 1969 virtually all the public high schools had riflery teams?

Thousands of students carried their rifles on subways, buses and streets on their way to school, when they went to practice in the afternoon and on their way home. And until 1963, all commercial pilots were required to carry guns and were allowed to carry guns until 1987.

Gun laws have certainly changed over time.

Today towns such as Kennesaw, Ga., Greenfeld, Idaho and Geuda Springs, Kan., which all require residents to own guns, are considered the oddity. But Clayton Cramer's terrific new book, "Armed America," shows that, in fact, gun ownership has been deeply woven into this country's since the colonial period.

Cramer shows that guns aren't inherently the problem. In our day, criminals may have replaced Indians as a danger facing most citizens, but it may also shock many readers to learn how comfortable Americans once were with their guns.

In colonial times, as Cramer argues, people didn't own guns just for hunting. Numerous laws mandated that people have guns for personal defense and defense of the community, at home, while traveling and even in church.

Heads of households, whether men or women, were required to have a gun at home and fines of up to a month's wages were imposed on those who failed to meet this requirement.

In some states such as Maryland, fines were paid directly to inspectors so that authorities had a strong incentive to check. The only people exempt from these rules were Quakers, some indentured servants, or, in the South, blacks.

Fear of attack by Indians and England's European enemies meant that people were required to own and carry guns when traveling, though sometimes older people were exempted.

At least six colonies required people have guns with them at church. Church officials were required to check parishioners when they arrived for services to ensure they had a gun. Clergymen were required to have guns, too. Contrast that with the political firestorms that erupt these days when states merely let churches decide whether concealed handgun permit holders can carry guns on church property.

In our day, only about 45 percent of households own a gun, whereas gun ownership in colonial America was much higher, as measured by probate recirds. Guns were bequeathed to the next generation in about 70 percent of cases.

The fascinating firsthand historical accounts that Cramer provides indicate that guns were cheap, readily available and essentially everywhere. Given America's historical amnesia, Cramer's book helps to remind us about that part of our history many now find improbable.

John Lott is the author of "The Bias Against Guns."
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38 of 38 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Revisionists' Bane, Or How The Standard Version Was Right All Along, April 19, 2007
By 
RKV (Santa Barbara, Ca USA) - See all my reviews
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Cramer writes a focused work, detailing the presence and use of firearms in the colonial, revolutionary and early Republic periods of American history. He compiles a wealth of specific examples based on primary sources like wills, newspapers, legislation, travel books, etc. He demonstrates a deep knowledge of the topic and the sources, showing the range and breadth of early American experience with firearms for use in personal defense and in a military context. Some of the material can be dry, and this book is not one for those looking for a rollicking story - it's a history, of the kind useful for professionals or amateurs with a specific, rather than a general interest in the topic. Occasionally Cramer restates the obvious - of course, given the inability of some of our countries "best" historical scholars on the Bancroft Committee to pick up on the obvious inconsistencies between Bellesiles' writing in Arming America and the original records, he should be forgiven. Armed America should be seen as a refutation of Bellesiles and his ilk - as the academic frauds that they have been demonstrated to be. After reading Armed America you will be convinced that Cramer had the right of it.

4 stars - it's a solid work, and well executed.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Story of Guns in Early America, October 6, 2007
Clayton E. Cramer has an MA in history from Sonoma State University and has taught history in Boise State University. He published several academic books on history and firearms. His knowledge allowed him to reveal the lies in Bellesiles' book. The 'Acknowledgments' thank those who helped to make this book more entertaining. Cramer notes the changes from the Julian to Gregorian calendar in 1752. Cramer's discussion on Bellesiles' revisionist history begins this educational book. Bellesiles misquoted the historical record to provide false facts for his now discredited book (p.xii). Bellesiles used probate records that were destroyed in the San Francisco earthquake (p.xv)! Another scandal was the dishonesty of university historians (p.xvi). [Upton Sinclair wrote a book in 1922 on corporate control of universities.] Cramer explains the difficulty of evaluating written records from 300 years ago (pp.xviii-xx).

Part I deals with Colonial America (1607-1775). America followed the English tradition of a militia, people armed for their protection against Indians and England's enemies (p.3). Gun ownership was required by the 18th century (p.4). Chapter 2 tells of the class and race prohibitions on gun ownership. Some whites were distrusted for religious reasons. Indians were banned from owning guns (Chapter 3) but acquired them through commerce. They were armed for their fights with other tribes (p.42). Chapter 5 tells of the probate records that record personal property; there are problems with these records (p.55). Ads in newspapers may be more reliable, as well as gunpowder import records (p.56). Chapter 5 lists the hunting practices. Murder rates were higher then (p.78). Fights occurred over political concerns (p.80), and tenant uprisings in NY. Pistols were common (p.83). So too were accidents (p.86). Part II documents the Revolutionary War. There are many detailed records on gun ownership. These chapters cover Guns in New England, the Middle Colonies, the South, and the Continental Army and Militias. "Guns were the great equalizers of social status" (p.166).

Part III covers the Early Republic (1783-1846). There are chapters on Militias, Ammunition, Pistols, Guns and Sport, and Guns and Violence. The militia system was superior to a regular army in three ways (p.178). They were low-cost, they were plentiful, and they were widespread. The militia was politically reliable (p.180)! There were arguments against a standing army (p.183). Gunpowder mills were common in most states (Chapter 11). Chapter 12 examines the availability of pistols in America. Hunting was very common and universal on the frontier (p.201). Violence was all too common because of an "honor culture" (p.224). Dueling was quite common, the laws against it nearly useless (a jury would not convict if it conducted honorably). "Regulators" enforced the laws (p.229). Violence was common, often because of slander (p.232). [No mention of the rate of violent death in England or Europe.]

The 'Epilogue' notes that America was a society where guns were common for military defense, defense of a home and family, as a symbol of citizenship, and for violence. Newspapers, law books, memoirs, travel accounts, and advertisements documented the common ownership of guns. The 'Bibliography' lists the Primary and Secondary sources (pp.244-255).
[Neither Bellesiles or Cramer tell how America was a peaceful refuge from the wars and oppressions of Europe.]
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good book, but it won't convince those who "know" it isn't so, July 15, 2007
By 
A. Burchfield (Conway, Missouri USA) - See all my reviews
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A few years ago Michael Bellsiles wrote a book claiming that early Americans didn't own guns, didn't have them, and that historical documentation proved it. He was widely discredited even by many of his anti-gun peers when it was found that much of his research was false or totally inaccurate.

Clayton Cramer spent five years researching the same records Bellesiles "used" and found totally opposite results, guns were very common all over the colonies (the book covers a period from the 1600's to the 1840's). Divided into 3 sections, Colonial America, the Revolutionary war, and the early Republic- Cramer gives exhaustive detail on what America was really like. The author is even careful to note that sometimes a modern reader can't be sure just what some statements from the past meant.
There are a lot of footnotes (unfortunately he gives no indication of just how hard it is for the average person to get at the original documents to read them, he does mention that Bellesiles usually reported just the opposite of what sommething actually said in print.) and a 12 page bibliography to back up his statements.

My worst problem with the book was that the few included photographs are too dark, hard to get any detail from them. It's a good fascinating book that I don't regret owning, it just won't convince anyone who doesn't believe it is true.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent scholarly work, May 12, 2007
By 
D. Offer (Austin, TX USA) - See all my reviews
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This is definitely a book for people who enjoy history through original sources. Mr. Cramer brings together a wealth of material that many "professional" historians can't seem to be bothered with.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Setting the record straight, June 23, 2009
Cramer effectively refutes Michael A. Bellesiles' "Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture" demonstrating it to be fraudulent. Cramer gives a well documented and research history of the importance of guns in America. While liberals and anti-gun academia may not like it, guns have been an important part of American culture from the founding of the country.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Get to the bottom of the facts with this book, August 16, 2013
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Very factual, the whole point of this book is to further debunk a book written by a different author who was perpetrating anti-gun views. With that being said, sometimes it reads more like an encyclopedia, which may have been the author's intent, but nonetheless very fascinating. This book is the truth.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book., March 5, 2013
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This review is from: Armed America: The Remarkable Story of How and Why Guns Became as American as Apple Pie (Paperback)
If you want a clear understanding of our country and the second amendment you will enjoy this book. I enjoyed this book and refer it to a lot of people.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Debunking Bellisle the fraud, March 4, 2011
This review is from: Armed America: The Remarkable Story of How and Why Guns Became as American as Apple Pie (Paperback)
Some years ago, some dubious hack "history professor" published a ponderous, rambling brick of propaganda called "the Arming of America". The main theme of this literary wad of toilet-tissue was: firearm ownership in Americas was "rare", and the "gun-culture" was artificially created by the "gun-industry". The fraud (michael bellisle)was gushingly lauded, and much pseudo-academic flatulance erupted from all manner of leftist "professors". There was much embarassment, when the fraudster was publicly exposed and disgraced, ...and had to return his ill-gotten laurels and prize-money...

Well, anyone who has ACTUALLY studied even a minute quantity of REAL history of America, realizes that this claim is utterly ridiculous.

Clayton Cramer studied the SAME documents that the hack perused, and came to a completely different assessment. Its all thoroughly summarized in Mr. Cramer's excellent book, "Armed America".

Utilizing a vast array of historical sources, Mr. Cramer divides this study into three sections, in descibing the proliferation of early American firearms: the Colonial Era, the Revolution, and the Early Republic.

The TRUE historical record is verified through study of archeological sites, legislation, probate records, militia records, and the data obtained from manufacturers of arms and ammunition, for example.

The ludicrous premise that guns were "rare" in early America just doesn't mesh with the well-established REALITY that we all knew before leftist "academics" with an agenda started re-writing history.

Wherever the European powers established colonies, there was always an imminent prospect of war. Adjacent colonies under rival flags did engage each other in frequent skirmishes, open warfare was often inevitable. The threat of hostile invasion from hostile nations was quite prevalent not just in North America, but in Africa, Asia, and South America, as well. Lets not forget that New York was once New Amsterdam. Much of the British 13 colonies were originally Dutch territories, until the British forced the Dutch to surrender their lands. Sweden had a small colony in what is now Delaware, this was forcibly siezed by the Dutch. Even after the Dutch expulsion, the British, French, and Spanish were constantly jostling each other in a most aggressive manner, and this escalated into the Seven Years War.

These colonies were rarely very populous in the 17th. and 18th. centuries, so every able-bodied man was required to be a militia member, and being a militia man almost always meant arriving for muster with ones' own arms. Subsisting on limited funds, colonial governments REQUIRED citizens to own their own arms, not just to defend the colony but for personal defense.

The threat of invasion from foriegn powers was not the only military threat. The long-running competition with the Native American tribes was an omnipresent hazard to anyone home-steading anywhere near the frontiers. The record of Indian raids, and numerous small wars in which the colonists engaged the tribes, thoroughly document the use of firearms by the Native American warriors. The Indians didn't make the guns themselves! They got them in trade with the colonies, and they had enough guns to adopt them as their PRIMARY armament!

Life on the frontiers!
If guns were "rare", ...what did pioneers hunt with? Until the home-steader cleared land for farming, hunting was the exclusive means of obtaining meat.

The Revolution!
If guns were "rare", ...how did the Patriots amass enough arms to take on the British army? The British army didn't march on Lexington and Concord to confiscate bows and arrows.

When the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution, the Second Amendment was understood to define the INDIVIDUAL RIGHT of American citizens to personally possess their own arms, ...so that FREEDOM would be maintained by armed citizens countering any attempt by a corrupt government to oppress them. When bellisle wrote his dubious piece of leftist propaganda, it was intended to create doubt in the minds of gullible people, people who would disregard ACTUAL historical record because the author is a "professor". Thankfully, REAL AMERICANS are not so gullible.
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Armed America: The Remarkable Story of How and Why Guns Became as American as Apple Pie
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