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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
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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: 6.6 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (123 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #679,246 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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 www.danbaum.com, www.margaretknox.com, or www.freelancersclinic.com

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

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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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Mr John Haueisen VINE VOICE on June 5, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Dan Baum's "Gun Guys" is entertaining, and might be a bit of a bridge between some of the pro-gun and anti-gun factions.

My complaint is that he misses the crucial point about the essential difference between pro-gun and anti-gun people:

The anti-gun folks believe that government should make all the essential decisions about how people live their lives. This includes regulating or banning behavior and objects that government determines are dangerous, or just something that government wants to control.

The pro-gun folks believe that government's domain ends when it interjects itself into basic human (some would say God-given) rights, like the right to defend your life and the lives of your loved-ones.

To anti-gunners, the gun is a dangerous object from which they want government authorities to protect them, regardless of the historical proof that criminals and sociopaths always are able to find "the tools of their trade," whether these be knives, clubs, or a can of gasoline.

To pro-gunners, the gun is a tool. Yes, it can be used by bad guys to commit crimes, but it can be used by good guys to stop crimes. Hammers can build houses, just as hammers can crush skulls. The pro-gunners just can't understand why "gun-banners" are not content to use law to address criminals, instead of tools, which can be used or abused, depending on the mind of the handler.

Baum dwells too much on trying to establish a "gun culture," and trying to describe the idiosyncrasies of pro- and anti-gun groups.

He misses the point that it is an ideological difference between those who accept personal responsibility for their lives and actions, and those who prefer to have government control all aspects of everyone else's life. Agree with it or not, this is a crucial point.
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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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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Berger VINE VOICE on March 17, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Dear Dan,

It's been a while since we've been in touch. Imagine my surprise when I saw you'd written a book on gun guys. Well, not that much of a surprise. I knew you liked guns. When I was thinking of getting my first one, you recommended I buy an M-1. A good solid rifle that helped win WWII. (Instead I got a Russian Baikal 12-gauge over-under. Long story.)

I wasn't sure what to expect here. In the first article I saw on it - your column in the Wall Street Journal - you spent most of your time bashing gun guys as yahoos. In an interview you did someplace - maybe it was in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, picked up from the San Francisco Chronicle - you were a little more fair. (Shame on the AJC, though, for labeling you "Frank Baum" in the headline. You did once work for them. And you never wrote "The Wizard of Oz.")

It's a great read. I must tell you, I keep turning the pages like I usually don't for non-fiction books. You're a good journalist. You marshal the facts, bring the color, make it live and keep it moving. Maybe I like the story because I know you, and Margaret, who I will always think of as Meg. (She is a fine journalist herself. In one story she worked on at Michigan J School, she was having trouble finding the central strand. I helped her talk it out and explain it to herself. Only years later did I realize she'd discovered, back in 1981, campus tensions caused by the then-not-yet-a-household-word Muslim Brotherhood.)

Anyway, back to guns. Your central premise is clever. Northern Jewish guy who is liberal-to-left in every other way harbors a lifelong fascination with guns, definitely not a liberal-to-left Northern Jewish thing.
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