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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1 edition (March 5, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307595412
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307595416
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (106 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #592,719 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* You don’t hear about a lot of preteen gun nuts, but Baum was one of them, discovering when he was five years old that he was a crack shot. He’s always known why he loved guns (natural skill in using them and their beauty and efficiency as mechanical devices), but as an adult, he began to wonder why other people loved them. So he decided to do something he’d never done: join the gun culture, meet its people, and find out what made them tick. Along the way, he encounters a 24-year-old young man who lives with his mother and became interested in real guns by playing with simulated guns in video games; a gunmaker who’s upset to the point of distraction about the passing of President Obama’s health-care bill; a Hollywood armorer; and an expert in the history and manufacture of machine guns. He also deals with the murder of a friend, a victim of exactly the sort of gun violence that sparks the politically polarizing debate that Baum has been witnessing nearly everywhere he goes. Baum is careful not to take a political stance; he’s reporting the story, and he’s also, as a gun enthusiast, a part of it, but he’s not writing an apologia. If you come into the book convinced of the need for tighter gun control, you’ll probably leave the same way, although you will leave with a deeper understanding of the many reasons, political and personal, why people love their weaponry. --David Pitt

From Bookforum

The most intriguing of a new crop of books about America and guns. —Jeff Sharlet

More About the Author

I'm a writer of non-fiction, the author of Gun Guys: A Road Trip (Knopf, 2013); Nine Lives: Death and Life in New Orleans (Spiegel & Grau, 2009); Smoke and Mirrors: The War on Drugs and the Politics of Failure (Little, Brown 1996); and Citizen Coors: An American Dynasty (Morrow/HarperCollins, 2000). I've been a staff writer for the New Yorker, and have written for Rolling Stone, Playboy, the New York Times Magazine and many others. I work with my wife, Margaret Knox, and we live in Boulder, Colorado. You can read about us -- and avail yourself of our editing and writing coaching -- at,, or

Customer Reviews

It is an easy, entertaining book to read.
Dan Baum would make a good liberal ambassador between those advocating for gun control and those opposed to it.
The mainstream media does this just fine and appears to like maintaining a one-sided view.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
You will not agree with everything than Dan Baum has to say, but that is not the point of the book. In this country and in our Government, we have tolerated name calling, assertions devoid of facts, threats, and belittling in the place of rational debate with the only result being that everyone is seething and left feeling that those on the other side are idiots. The internet is especially rife with this. Sheesh guys, lighten up! The right and the left are pushed into their respective corners at this point and they can't seem to even speak with each other.

This book is an attempt to restore civility to the discussion and even if you don't agree with everything Dan has to say, you will get something out of it. Conservative gun owners will start to understand that not all Liberals want to take their guns (40% of us actually have guns, many of us carry, and plenty of us don't think that 2A is at all ambiguous and that we could certainly be allys in this debate). Gun control advocates might start to understand that gun rights are often felt as part of the package of self reliance and personal responsibility that many gun owners and 2A proponents have and why many get so worked up when their gun rights are threatened. They might start to understand that they can't just keep the parts of the Constitution that they like and steamroll those they don't and they may start to come to the conclusion that an Assault Weapons Ban is pretty ludicrous. Seriously, if you've ever been to a gun show or shooting range you'll realize that that horse has long ago left the barn.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By E. Kohen on June 9, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
I started this book as a general foe of guns and a specific foe of assault weapons. Baum's well-written and never-preachy book made me realize how little I understood about most of the issues in the pro- v. anti-gun world. I'll be re-reading this one, probably within a few months....and instead of a library copy I'll be buying one so I can underline those passages most meaningful to me. About halfway through, I sent an email to 15 or 20 friends, some of whom are long-time NRA members, some of whom are so rabidly for or against guns that there's no talking with them, and some of whom were neither hot nor cold on guns. There's material enough in Gun Guys for all of them.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By BrianB VINE VOICE on May 29, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I will give the author points. He really tried to explain the culture of the gun in America, and he tries to write a balanced story about a divisive issue. Unfortunately he seems compelled to defend gun ownership in every chapter, which reveals a certain bias. He is not writing to the people who own guns and want to keep them. He is writing to people who want to disarm the United States. This book becomes an apologetic. Many liberals will read this and might be amused at parts, definitely angered by other parts, but it will not change their minds. Most conservatives will read through Mr. Baum in the first chapter, and throw it on the discard pile. The pity of the matter is that he really tries to be objective, and he does present both sides to the gun ownership argument. He is a gun owner, and he speaks clearly about his own views. His credentials as a liberal democrat make this a fascinating read.

The author ridicules gun advocates for predicting that Obama was simply waiting for his second term to reveal his anti-gun agenda. Ironically this book comes out shortly after their suspicions were confirmed. Mr. Baum might want to revise that chapter. But he does make valid points about the bad attitudes of some gun store clerks, and the volatile us-against-them attitude of the gun rights crowd. In their defense, people should get angry about a government that wants to take away what they see as a vital civil right.

Mr. Baum is a well organized and amusing writer. He is quite skilled in the art. His stories (this reads as a series of stories) are a bit wordy at times, and he repeats himself, but the overall product is polished and professional.

Pro-gun and anti-gun: perhaps the divide is too great to be bridged. This author tried to present an unbiased view.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By sneaky-sneaky VINE VOICE on March 14, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
A nuanced, balanced, and entertaining exploration of gun culture, 'Gun Guys' is Dan Baum's fourth book. The author decides to concealed-carry for a year, and travels around shooting ranges, gun stores, hunts, and meets with advocates on both sides of the gun debate. Mr. Baum manages to deliver a number of facts along the way, and is pretty convincing about the failures of various gun control measures that have been tried, or are under consideration.
If you're ex-military like myself, you have a certain healthy respect for automatic weapons; and if you're a left-leaning, big-city liberal, once again like myself, then you may feel rather conflicted about guns, as does the author. And he works it all out. One of Baum's suggestions is that if 'we' must have a liberal agenda of gay marriage and abortion rights, then 'they' should be allowed their guns. Fair enough.
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