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Famous Firearms of the Old West: From Wild Bill Hickok's Colt Revolvers to Geronimo's Winchester, Twelve Guns That Shaped Our History Hardcover – September 16, 2008

14 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0762745081 ISBN-10: 0762745088 Edition: 1st

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Editorial Reviews

Review

As Hal Herring says in his Preface, "America was a nation born yelling, and in a cloud of black powder smoke." We have always been addicted to mayhem (albeit from a safe distance), and the most fascinating mayhem of all was that waged in the Old West. This is the story of 12 guns of that time and the famous and infamous people who used them, and if you can start Chapter One and put the book down before you reach at least Chapter Six, see a doctor. Great stuff from someone who is both a historian and a masterful storyteller.
--Dave Petzal, Deputy Editor, Field & Stream

From the Back Cover

Fascinating true stories of twelve guns that shaped America’s history
 
 James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok’s Colt Model 1851 Revolvers

 William “Buffalo Bill” Cody’s .50 Caliber Needle Gun

 Geronimo’s Winchester Model 1876 Carbine

 Joseph Smith’s Ethan Allen Dragoon Model Pepperbox Pistol

 Chief Joseph’s “Surrender Gun,” the Model 1866 Winchester Rifle

 Ned Christie’s Model 1873 Winchester Rifle

 John Wesley Hardin’s Colt Thunderer Model 1877 Revolver

 Pancho Villa’s Smith & Wesson Model 3 American Revolver
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: TwoDot; 1st edition (September 16, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0762745088
  • ISBN-13: 978-0762745081
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 7.8 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,137,075 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I am a contributing editor at Field and Stream magazine and contribute to a wide variety of publications, writing about conservation, guns and hunting, and the environment. I've written for everybody from literary quarterlies to the Economist and the Atlantic Monthly.

Writiing Famous Firearms of the Old West was a way to immerse myself in America's wild and violent history. As I was working on the book, I found myself saying "You've got these incredible American stories - Bonnie and Clyde being hunted by the lawman Frank Hamer, 70 year old Bill Tilghman gunfighting corrupt Prohibition agents on the streets of Cromwell, OK., just to name two of them-- DON'T MESS IT UP." My goal was always to do these men and women and their stories, justice, and to keep those stories alive in our national consciousness.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By James R. Mckee on September 9, 2008
Format: Hardcover
There are a lot of books out there that cover historical firearms, biographies of the men who used them, or the world they lived in. Herring's book is one of the few that combines all three of these aspects into one story. By selecting specific weapons, the men who used them, and how society looked at that particular time, Famous Firearms Of The Old West provides the reader with a glimpse of the growth of our nation.

This is not just a gun book. Anyone interested in history, sociology, or firearms should find a great read in this book.

Tiger McKee

The Book of Two Guns: The Martial Art of the 1911 Pistol and AR Carbine
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Michael OConnor TOP 500 REVIEWER on November 23, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Hal Herring's 2008 volume is a marvel...and a marvelous read. Herring examines the life history of a dozen historic Wild West firearms and the men who used them. Filled with thrilling stories and larger-than-life characters, it presents a vivid picture of the Wild West. I can't remember when I have enjoyed reading a book as much as I did FAMOUS FIREARMS OF THE OLD WEST.

The firearms and personalities covered in Herring's book reads like a who's who of the Wild West: 'Wild Bill' Hickok and his Colt Model 1851 revolvers, John Wesley Hardin's Colt Lightning Double Actions, Geronimo's Winchester Carbine, Joseph Smith's Pepperbox pistol, Pancho Villa's Smith & Wesson American Revolvers, John Brown's Sharps Model 1850, etc. Herring deftly combines the history of each weapon's development with the life story of each individual to produce an entertaining and educational "look back."

The book is nicely illustrated with vintage photos of the firearms and users along with contemporary color pix of the weapons themselves. The combination of history and illustrations really makes the Wild West come alive.

In short, FAMOUS FIREARMS OF THE OLD WEST is a gem, fascinating history related by a master storyteller. Anyone interested in the Wild West will want to purchase a copy of Herring's book. Highly recommended.

*****
One minor criticism: no index.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Samuel Western on October 6, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Herring writes about guns the way McPhee writes about rocks, fish, and oranges. In an easy but confident voice, Herring describes the history and people behind a dozen firearms. He managed also to be informative but not pedantic and decidedly avoids hook and bullet assumptions. A pleasure to read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Paul Czarnowski on September 29, 2008
Format: Hardcover
For those that yearn for yesteryear and a hearty 'Hi-yo Silver!' this is the real thing. Hal delivers again. If you think you know the story of the person, it is fascinating to see how his story would not have been possible with out his particular firearm.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Carol Ann Mckay on January 20, 2009
Format: Hardcover
For anyone interested in the history of the old West, this is a must read. In about the 1840s the machine tool industry was born in New England and with it, more and better guns - no longer the hand made affairs of the 18th century. These weapons are the history of the West. Herring examines our legacy through the lives and firearms of 12 influential figures of the old West. He carefully describes the mechanics of each firearm and separately outlines the life and times of each individual. This enbales the reader to dip in and out of the stories. This book is well written and well researched. It's a fascinating read. I couldn't put it down.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Robert M. Jordan on May 25, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The title is unfortunate in a way. It does little justice to what is a sweeping and heart-pounding narrative of a time lost to history yet ever-present in the American consciousness. You don't need to be a gun buff, or even know the first thing about guns for that matter, to enjoy the read.
As a collection, Herring's chapters on individual figures from John Brown to Bonnie and Clyde go far beyond the weapons that made them famous. These are epic and revealing tales of men and women - from lethal lawmen to outlaw teenage girls - who lived outsized lives, shaped American destiny and gave rise to the legends that define our common history.
Great stories gracefully told.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Brian McCombie on February 15, 2009
Format: Hardcover
BUY THIS BOOK!! Great stuff. History and culture, and people and their guns, all wrapped up in one very readable package. Some finely told gunfights here, too. Eagerly awaiting Herring's next book....
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