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The Gun Audible – Unabridged

4.2 out of 5 stars 141 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 18 hours and 50 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio
  • Audible.com Release Date: October 12, 2010
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0046XYGQQ
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank:

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
"The Gun" provides some very interesting insights into the history of machine guns and modern arms trade, yet it is not a complete book, but rather a series of separate articles. It is hard to find a leading idea that would join the separate stories conveyed in "The Gun".

The book starts with an excellent historical account of developments of the machine gun and goes on to describe the invention of AK-47 and M-16 in this way. But then it stops - for no apparent reason. I would very much like to read about what were the developments in assault rifle design since 1960's, but the historical account stops there.

A very interesting chapter describes all the problems with the adoption of M-16 by the US armed forces. But the description is tiresome and definetely too detailed. For no good reason the author delves into who-said-what-to-whom-and-when and tries to figure out who deserves the blame for US Marines' deaths in Vietnam. It is an interesting story, but a different one from the historical account in other chapters. And just when I hoped that the author would describe a similar problems with a botched implementation of UK's SA80 rifle - the story shifts again.

Third topic covered in this book is terrorism and warfare in third world countries. But since the first part of the book was taken up by other subjects, this one is also covered in a partial fashion - with no real background or details. This part of the book reads more like a collection of trivia - from strange beliefs of African rebels, through partial retelling of terrorist attack during the Munich Olympics, to description of one person's gunshot injuries - with no clear train of thought to connect it.

There is also a discussion of morals and life story of M.
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Format: Hardcover
Chris Chivers knows how to tell a story that has historical significance, depth and insight. The Gun explains how one rifle changed the face of war in the late 20th Century. Formerly the New York Times correspondent in Moscow, Chivers takes the reader behind the scenes inside the Soviet industrial and propaganda machine, laying out a fascinating narrative of how the regime plotted and schemed to engineer myth while designing the automatic rifle that was the most significant technical factor in the North Vietnamese victory over the south. Chivers wraps his deep understanding about military history inside a refreshing compendium of characters - heroes, inventors, knaves and entrepreneurs. He knows the secret of story-tellling; the reader finishes each page by asking, and then what happened? - Bing West, Newport, RI
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The AK-47 and its numerous variants and successors are ubiquitous instruments of destruction currently appearing in all troubled regions of the globe. The rifle, known for its quadruple attributes of extreme design simplicity, rugged durability, ease of use and tremendous destructive capacity has achieved legendary status. Of course, this is all well known and has been thoroughly discussed and written about. After all, the AK series are instantly recognizable to military, police, criminals, terrorists and the general public as the seminal firearms of the 20th Century.

C.J. Chivers of "The New York Times" and late of the USMC has, in "The Gun" provided, through the history of the AK series, a lucid exposition of the development of automatic weapons from their inception to the present time. Additionally and more importantly, "The Gun" explores a hitherto largely uninvestigated dimension of the modern assault weapon. He asks, "What is its role as a socio-political instrument of state and how did it achieve this goal?"

As might be expected, the originator of the eponymous weapon, Mikhail Kalashnikov, has become a mythical figure. It well-served the propaganda purposes of the Soviet Union to extol the virtues of a genuine, nearly unlettered proletarian who, enjoying the Benefits of the Worker's Paradise, arose from a humble and unassuming background to the pinnacle of firearms design. By legend, he proceeded virtually unaided and motivated primarily by Love of the Fatherland.
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9 Comments 59 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Chivers' book, The Gun, is a masterpiece on many levels. Using the history of this weapon as a lens through which to analyze recent history is brilliant. The battle scenes are riveting and heartwrenching, and the characters are rendered with charisma.
The politics are head spinning, chiefly because most of us don't look at the world this way and I think we don't appreciate how much battle tactics reflect times, politics and ideologies. It's an important book with extraordinary analysis, but full of swashbuckling tales.
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Format: Hardcover
C.J. Chivers has an exceptional gift for story telling. His writing style is breezy; his mastery of the subject of the AK-47 and its derivatives is complete.

His work for The New York Times has won several prestigious awards, including the Pulitzer Prize; especially notable is his work on their At War blog, which often features discussions of captured AK-47s.

But The Gun simply does not deliver on much it promises, and it has significant structural flaws, due in large part to biting off too much to chew and in some part to poor editing.

Chivers begins by describing the development and initial world deployment of the Gatling and Maxim guns.

There's no new scholarship here. Chivers argues that the Gatling gun aided the British Empire in overcoming massive, but ill-equipped, native colonial uprisings. He also notes how Russia's Gatlings inflicted substantial casualties on regular Japanese troops during the seige of Port Arthur in 1904-05.

Chivers agrees with the conventional argument, that tactics were not in tune with technology -- namely, the Maxim gun and its derivatives -- during World War I.

Perhaps the most valuable insights we gain from these examinations are exceptionally entertaining and informative biographies of Richard Gatling and Hiram Maxim, each fascinating for completely divergent reasons.

It is not until Chivers begins discussing Mikhail Kalashnikov that the serious problems begin.

Significant effort is spent in debunking the myth that Kalashnikov alone was responsible for development of the AK-47, as well as devolving the official state history of the man.
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