Mr. Gatling's Terrible Marvel and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
Buy Used
$3.99
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Condition: Used: Good
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Mr. Gatling's Terrible Marvel: The Gun That Changed Everything and the Misunderstood Genius Who Invented It Hardcover – May 29, 2008


See all 13 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Hardcover, May 29, 2008
$1.40 $0.01
12%20Days%20of%20Deals%20in%20Books
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

Best Books of the Year
Best Books of 2014
Looking for something great to read? Browse our editors' picks for 2014's Best Books of the Year in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult; First Edition edition (May 29, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670018945
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670018949
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,351,137 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Keller, a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist, analyzes the nexus between invention and culture in this incisive and instructive cultural history cum biography. Her subject is the iconic Gatling gun, the first successful machine gun, and its inventor, Richard Jordan Gatling, a 19th-century tinkerer and entrepreneur. A gifted amateur inventor, he registered his first patent—for a mechanical seed planter—in 1844 and had 43 lifetime patents. In 1862, with the Civil War raging, Gatling invented a six-barrel, rapid-firing (200 rounds per minute) gun based on his seed planter. Initially rejected by the Union army, the gun finally came into use in 1866 as a bully and enforcer against striking workers and in the Indian Wars; its legacy—the mechanization of death—didn't become fully apparent until the killing fields of WWI. A celebrity in the 19th century, Gatling was soon reviled for his terrible marvel and then consigned to obscurity. Keller rescues Gatling and anchors his remarkable life firmly in the landscape of 19th-century America: a time and place of egalitarian hope and infinite possibility. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

The Gatling gun, named after Richard Gatling (1818–1903), was a weapon having a cluster of barrels designed to be discharged automatically when rotated about an axis. Keller, a Pulitzer Prize–winning author, posits that although the gun is a deadly weapon, its story is not altogether grim. It’s also the story of a nation on the rise and of a person whose career was tied to “that creative and economic boom.” The author presents as a genius, a man of decency, vision, and ambition who held dozens of patents for a variety of life-enhancing gadgets, including plows, bicycles, flush toilets, and dry-cleaning machines. He also was a man who became rich but lost money through bad breaks and an unwillingness to be anything less than honest in his business dealings. The book includes an eight-page, black-and-white photo insert. In thorough detail, Gatling’s life and work come to life. --George Cohen

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

I don't and that's why I only gave this book one star.
John M. Lane
She is so enthused by Richard Gatling (though not his gun as an enforcer of government policy!)
D. Corporation
This book provides about 50 pages of information on its supposed subject.
Submeta12

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By David Emanuel VINE VOICE on August 25, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Did you ever have to write a term paper on something you knew NOTHING about? You'd repeat the title, rearrange it and the repeat it again and then add in irrelevant asides, anything to generate words in a futile attempt to cover up the fact that you had NOTHING to say about the subject.

This book is one of those term papers. "More than a biography" says one of the "top reviewers". How about "where's the biography"?

About the only things I learned about Gatling was his name, that he moved to St Louis and that he got smallpox. That's it for a whole book.

There's lots of sociological waffle about mid nineteenth American territorial and technical development. A lot of talk about how the Civil war was relevant. But there's close to zilch on what is supposed to be the subject of this book - the man and his gun.

I want my money back.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
37 of 45 people found the following review helpful By D. Corporation on June 3, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I have three problems with this book. 1) Ms Keller takes us off on a survey of 19th century America instead of concentrating on Richard Gatling. What did John Sutter have to do with the Gatling gun? Well, nothing, but she drags him in by the heels nevertheless. The entire first half of the book is given over to these digressions.

2) She doesn't like firearms--a disabling qualification in somebody who sets out to write the biography of the first successful rapid-fire gun. "The fact that arms are necessary to a nation's survival is a grubby and uncomfortable truth." Uncomfortable to Ms Keller, no doubt, but not to those of us who have used firearms for hunting, for target shooting, and during our military service.

3) She is so enthused by Richard Gatling (though not his gun as an enforcer of government policy!) that she shades the facts. To read her book, you'd conclude that the machine-gun problem was solved by Gatling in 1862 instead of by Hiram Maxim twenty years later--that the single-barrel, auto-loading, auto-firing machine guns of World War One were just minor improvements on Gatling's design. Tain't so.
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By John M. Lane on February 16, 2011
Format: Paperback
This is a review of MR. GATLING'S TERRIBLE MARVEL: THE GUN THAT CHANGED EVERYTHING AND THE MISUNDERSTOOD GENIUS WHO INVENTED IT by Julia Keller. Mine is the hard cover edition published by Viking in 2008. Its cover boasts that this book even won the Pulitzer Prize.

That may have something to do with the author's position as cultural critic on the CHICAGO TRIBUNE or the literary quality of her writing. I enjoyed reading it, but I didn't learn much about Mr. Gatling's famous gun which was why I bought the book in the first place. Apparently the Pulitzer Committee had no interest in the Gatling Gun either.

An example of this is the author's treatment of Custer's Last Stand 1876. He'd been offered a battery of Gatling Guns, but declined to take them along on his date with destiny at the Little Big Horn. This could have been an interesting chapter in the history of Mr. Gatling's gun, but Ms. Keller dispenses with that and substitutes her opinion that Custer was merely a "simpering, arrogant cavalry officer...[notable primarily for his] haughtiness and overconfidence, [and] preening hubris..." (p. 187}. In other words, Custer was too stupid and egocentric to appreciate the fact that Gatling "worked on his gun continuously after obtaining the original patent in 1862, fixing problems that users encountered ...[to the point where]Gatling guns rarely 'malfunctioned'..." (p. 188).

This is clever prose, but it doesn't tell you much about the role of the Gatling Gun at the Little Bighorn in 1876. Neither the author nor the Pulitzer Committee seem to know anything about guns or the military history they shaped and that's the problem with this book. People who don't know anything about guns shouldn't write books about them.
Read more ›
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Simona Wexler on January 20, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I had high hopes for this work, but sadly it fell well short of the mark. After 115 pages, I had to put the book down out of frustration. This meandering work suffers from ADD with countless, unrelated vignettes that truly clutter the purported topic of this book. Roughly 25% of this book is about Gatling and his creation. The book is better titled "a history of invention." It also suffers from tired cliches to explain the Gatling gun. Any serious student of history should look elswhere.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Alan W Smith on February 20, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I finally had to give up on this book and toss it in the garbage. She quotes Larry Mcmurty for historical reference! Also many other fictional accounts. Almost nothing in the book is about Mr. Gatling and his gun. Subjects covered were small pox, manifest destiny, railroads, steamboats, riverboats, hygiene, flatboats, roads of the early 1800's, President Lincoln, the patent process, the telegraph, maybe the weather. I think I might have read the same passages on different pages, filler? I don't know why the author would receive any prize for writing, maybe the same groupe that gave Obama the Nobel, potential, This is a total waste of natural resources. Areas not covered, Mr. Gatlings' life, develeopment, building and fielding of the guns, who used, them where. I think I will try The Gatling Gun Notebook: A Collection of Data and Illustrations,James B. Hughes. This will probavly be a little dry but readable.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Recent Customer Reviews


What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?