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Gun Show Nation: Gun Culture and American Democracy Paperback – Bargain Price, November 6, 2007

2.3 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Tenaciously exposing the role guns play for many Americans in their national and political identity, Burbick (Rodeo Queens and the American Dream) talks to gun owners, sellers, lobbyists, grassroots organizers and policy makers as she tours gun shows, gun-rights conventions and National Rifle Association gatherings across the land. Mining the history of gun manufacturing and shooting magazine editorials, she charts how the gun industry has successfully marketed its products using the image of the patriotic, law-abiding civilian shooter. She describes Civil War–era white fears of armed blacks and shows how the Second Amendment rights movement was born of the social unrest of the 1960s. She argues that conservatives responded to blacks' and women's demands for rights by talking about the right to defend oneself with a gun. Burdick also tracks the tactical courtship of the gun lobby by presidents and politicians from Ronald Reagan and Jesse Helms to George W. Bush. Burdick highlights the prevalence of white, middle-aged men, misogyny and the paradoxical belief that the gun itself is capable of stopping violence. Noting that an anxious, self-justifying white settler identity underpins the Christian patriotism of the religious right, Burdick catalogues a culture that dwells imaginatively in a mythologized frontier past. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

To limn the pro-gun demographic, Burbick immersed herself in gun culture, visiting trade shows and conventions and interviewing exhibitors and attendees. She paints the picture of a committed, betimes compulsive community that so reveres the Second Amendment that, for many of its members, gun ownership and culture dominate their political and social views if not quite their entire lives. She opens by considering how the egotistic ballyhoo of Buffalo Bill Cody's biography and his barnstorming Wild West Show fostered popular ideas of the frontier and the "booming cultural industry of Westerns," molding a popular image that animates gun enthusiasts and colors politics to this day. Careful in her conclusions, lively in her writing, she offers great insight into such contemporary political players as the NRA and the sort of Old West vogue that made Reagan a romantic vote getter. Mike Tribby
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: New Press, The (November 6, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595582045
  • ASIN: B005UW112E
  • Product Dimensions: 7.2 x 5.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 2.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,323,725 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Joan Burbick is a professor of English and American studies at Washington State University, and is also the author of Rodeo Queens: On The Circuit With America's Cowgirls, Healing the Republic: The Language of Health and the Culture of Nationalism in Nineteenth-Century America (Cambridge Studies in American Literature and Culture), and Thoreau's Alternative History: Changing Perspectives on Nature, Culture, and Language.

She wrote in the Introduction to this 2006 book, "Ten years ago, at a gun show... I began to try to understand how and why guns speak in this national conversation... This book follows that gun talk from gun shows, to gun stores, to gun-rights conventions, to the huge annual meetings of the National Rifle Association. I traveled to eight states, talking with gun owners, sellers, lobbyists, grassroots organizers, and policy makers. Some of these people are my neighbors, others I met far from home... The journey I took to listen to this politics of guns made me question how we imagine what it means to be an American, and the often bitter debates that swirl around our identities as a people."

She writes, "Having walked the aisles of more than a dozen gun shows, I was used to hearing about the founding fathers and their wisdom in writing the Second Amendment... Gun owners had given me hundreds of mini-history lessons as I stood handling their wares." (Pg.
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Format: Hardcover
A friend told me about this book and I checked it out from the library to read it for myself. I'm glad that I did so but I would NOT recommend buying it to anybody. For those interested in an OBJECTIVE look at gun issues, pro and con, I would recommend instead "The Gun Control Debate: You Decide", edited by Lee Nisbet (Amazon.com page [...]

As for "Gun Show Nation", it's a nasty book: the author spends half her time spewing vitriol regarding white males. While I happen to BE a white male, I in no way believe that we are any better than other segments of our society. However, I also do not think we are any worse and frankly hold people who subscribe to this petty Balkanization in complete contempt.

On to the contents of the book itself. If I may digress, what is the reason that people do not walk around wearing sunglasses all of the time? Because they make everything look dark and deprive the wearer of a high degree of visual sensitivity. Well, this author seems to have taken it upon herself to look at gun owners with dark sunglasses on: she sees only a darkened image of what is there and misses out on a great deal of what makes gun ownership something that gives substantial enjoyment. Take her contemptuous comments regarding Charlton Heston, for example. She seems to have decided that since he was an NRA leader for a number of years that he's some sort of bigoted fool. The fact that he marched on D.C. with Martin Luther King Jr. apparently means nothing to her. He opposed racial segregation AND McCarthyism but since he also chose to support a right she disapproves of, he is a bad guy.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
And yes,this is a way of thinking that not everyone in this great country shares.Believe it or not there are many of us who wish we were not awash in guns.I went to several gun shows in the south and can attest to all she has written about them including the far right politics that you just don't see in any other market place.The crowd 'stocking up' because the NRA had sent another scare letter about "gun grabbers".Anyone interested for real in this book will bypass these silly one star reviews and grab this book.This is a good book for discussion among thinking people
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Format: Hardcover
The author attempts to frame gun ownership as something only advocated by people on the political far right and Christians. A reading of The Federalist Papers should put that thinking to rest. I am neither a conservative nor a Christian, and I'm aware of a huge, mostly quiet, diverse group who recognize that the 2nd Amendment guarantees rights that our founders considered of utmost importance. In fact, they were clear that we needed to be ready to protect ourselves from aggression (outsiders) and tyranny (our own government). They warned us not to raise permanent armies, in fact, because of the very real threat of tyranny by whomever was in power. Our right to keep and bear arms is the one amendment that ascertains the others will remain intact.

Never mind that firearms are the only reasonable means of personal protection for women, people of short stature, people with disabilities, and the elderly. Or that a 911 call or pepper spray are useless in the middle of a violent assault.

Yes, old white boys are the ones front and center at gun shows, just as they are in government, business, and in all aspects of our society. They held all the power for many years, and power-sharing is not something that happens overnight--culture creeps. And yes, they are mostly the ones who fought in the wars and developed an interest in firearms history. But that's changing. Women are starting to listen to the words of Susan B. Anthony, who advocated for females protecting themselves and not relying on males. More women are studying the Federalist Papers and other documents written by our founders.

Some of the history presented is interesting, and yet the author's bias is obvious throughout.
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