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Her Best Shot: Women and Guns in America Hardcover – October 2, 2006


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press; 1 edition (October 2, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080783050X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807830505
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #410,053 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The "thriving gun culture" of the South took Browder by surprise when the New Englander moved to Virginia. Now Browder (Rousing the Nation: Radical Culture in Depression America), an associate professor of English at Virginia Commonwealth University, explores the social meanings of armed womanhood in a culture where violence is associated with masculinity. Browder traces the phenomenon from Civil War cross-dressing spies to the present-day National Rifle Association's female-oriented marketing strategies, demonstrating how public discussions of gun-toting women find each successive era revealing its particular anxieties about women's sexuality and role as citizens. Browder discusses a series of " armed celebrities"—from Wild West stars like Annie Oakley and Calamity Jane to outlaws such as Bonnie Parker (of Bonnie and Clyde fame) and Patty Hearst—and examines the contradictory views about women soldiers, the gun-slinging pioneer mother "lioness" protecting her family, women at the turn of the 20th century who wielded their weapons to uphold white rightsand the women radical activists, both black and white, of the 1960s and 1970s who "used the gun as a bid for equal power within their often sexist movements." Browder packs her dense yet jargon-free study with salient examples drawn from contemporary print and visual sources. 34 illus. (Oct. 16)
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Review

There is a lot of fascinating historical information in Her Best Shot, but its most attractive feature is the well-written narrative. . . . It deserves to . . . make the best seller list and would add to both the understanding of, and the continuing debate about, women gunowners.--Women & Guns

Deftly explores one facet of the relationship between women and guns in American history: that most manifest in literary expression and advertising.--Pacific Northwest Quarterly

Browder's study makes clear that the portrayal of a woman with a gun has many shades of meaning bound up with race and class as well as gender.--Roanoke Times

Filled with fascinating history that has largely been lost or ignored--until now.--Field and Stream

Her Best Shot has a terrific premise, a why-hasn't-it-been-done-before exploration of gun-toting women in American history, society's attempts to either quash or domesticate them, and the various ways such women have challenged and . . . shot down traditional gender roles along the way.--Bitch

The work is appealingly written, satisfyingly illustrated, and well researched.--CHOICE

[Her Best Shot] explores the social meanings of armed womanhood in a culture where violence is associated with masculinity. Browder traces the phenomenon from Civil War cross-dressing spies to the present-day National Rifle Association's female-oriented marketing strategies, demonstrating how public discussions of gun-toting women find each successive era revealing its particular anxieties about women's sexuality and role as citizens.--Publishers Weekly

Deftly analyzes the figure of the armed woman as both cultural hero and villain.--American Historical Review

An enjoyable book. A well-written, thought-provoking history of images of women with guns. . . . A fascinating tour through American history.-- Winterthur Portfolio

Provides fascinating insights into a feminized gun culture perhaps little known to academic readers. . . . An impressive account of women and guns in America.--Journal of American History

[An] engaging and readable history. . . . Browder adeptly weaves the complex and multilayered viewpoints that plague both the status of women and of guns in this country.--BUST

A rich story.--Journal of Social History

Browder's book is far-ranging. It is filled with provocative observations on class dynamics and on the biological essentialism that is--and long has been--used to define women with guns.--Journal of Southern History

Fascinating. . . . Lucidly written and clearly argued. . . . Illuminat[es] a culture of violence through the study of popular culture, media representations, and political spectacle.--Journal of Interdisciplinary History

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By C. McCurdy on February 18, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Fascinating slice of history that needed a stronger-handed editor or coauthor.

The best parts of the book deal with the relationship between women and firearms during the last 15 to 20 years, yet these are also the most problematic. For instance, Browder asserts that Sara Weaver became an object of fascination in the white supremacist community after the Ruby Ridge standoff, yet she fails to provide even slight textual support for this (were white power zines and websites running articles, photo spreads, and interviews gushing over her, or what?).

Even worse, in the last chapter, during what feels like an extremely rushed-to-press discussion of the Iraq War, she writes that the only female soldier to become visible during this conflict was Lynndie England. Uh, Jessica Lynch anyone? How the hell did Browder and her editor miss that? Lynch's story conflates our concepts of "hero" and "victim"; while that's not exactly new or unique to her (the 9/11 mythos suffers from this conflation as well), her portrayal as both a hero and as a cute, blonde damsel-in-distress -- while her story fits neither categorization neatly -- is extremely relevant to a feminist discussion of arms and combat.

I'm glad I checked this book out from the library rather than purchase it, but despite its lack of thoroughness, this is an extremely compelling read and a good starting point for anyone doing research in this area
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Format: Hardcover
I picked up Laura Browder's book at my library on a whim. I'm not a proponent of guns yet the premise of her book intrigued me - as did the included photographs. Browder's writing is lean without being sparse and the book itself only totals 287 pages so it makes for a quick read. Regarding the reviewer comment citing a need for more information on featured profiles of women with guns throughout US history, Bowder cites all her sources and includes an expansive index for the reader. If you're looking for a comprehensive anthology of all notable female gun proponents in US history, this is not your book. I'm not sure if such a book even exists. However Browder creates a wonderful snapshot of the public perception of women and guns starting in the mid 1800's onwards through the 1999's. I found her book fascinating and a quick read - partly due to her subject matter and partly to her writing style.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By sally anderson on February 26, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I read this cover to cover in a few days- there is a lot of history about women and guns in America but the delivery is very digestible! With more and more female soldiers in combat in Iraq and other places in the world, this book dispels many myths about women and guns and gives a good background on American culture throughout the years.
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