Customer Review

61 of 68 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but disjointed, October 31, 2010
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This review is from: The Gun (Kindle Edition)
"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. Kalashnikov, which could be a nice study of lifestyle choices in a totalitarian state, but - when jammed between three other subjects - is just too brief and disjointed.

Despite those problems, the book is a fine read, interesting and engaging, but it feels like a "bait and switch" - starting on one topic for just long enough to instill curiosity, and then switching to different matters.

Don't buy the Kindle version. It is too expensive and full of bugs - simply an inferior product, and with no text-to-speech. (The bugs include: bad typesetting, typos, errors in format conversion, notes that are in wrong order, special formatting - i.e. bold text, chapter titles' emphasis - that is only visible when you use "next page" function and not when you skip directly to some chapter, the illustrations at the end are not listed in the table of contents and can be easily missed).
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 27, 2010 9:26:38 PM PST
With regard to the content of the book itself, an excellent review.

Posted on Jan 7, 2012 1:26:32 PM PST
This book and many like it when it comes to the history of small arms are not only way off track but highly suspicious when it comes to there assesment with the M-16 battle rifle and its so called rush to battle. The rifle developed by stoner was a complete battle system that in all trials was remakable with its ease of changing in any battle field condition.When armalite changed hands and the weapon was produced by colt and then issued to the army is when the weapon took on all the problems that plaqued it in combat conditions. The army and this is not at all addressed in the book, why? I can only guess. It has to do with the times and him being a reporter for their Moscow office. The army changed the powder charge and this and only this played serious havoc with the rifles bolt retraction. The army with their answer was to fashion a forward assist assembly to the weapons{M-16} receiver to help manually push the bolt foward, jamming it even further. Not until the powder charge in 223 round was changed that the problem of jammimg was addresed. The M-16 is now considered to many one is not the best combat rifles in use today. With no jamming at all and a unique design that continues to do its job killing the enemy.
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To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
This book and many like it when it comes to the history of small arms are not only way off track but highly suspicious when it comes to there assesment with the M-16 battle rifle and its so called rush to battle. The rifle developed by stoner was a complete battle system that in all trials was remakable with its ease of changing in any battle field condition.When armalite changed hands and the weapon was produced by colt and then issued to the army is when the weapon took on all the problems that plaqued it in combat conditions. The army and this is not at all addressed in the book, why? I can only guess. It has to do with the times and him being a reporter for their Moscow office. The army changed the powder charge and this and only this played serious havoc with the rifles bolt retraction. The army with their answer was to fashion a forward assist assembly to the weapons{M-16} receiver to help manually push the bolt foward, jamming it even further. Not until the powder charge in 223 round was changed that the problem of jammimg was addresed. The M-16 is now considered to many one is not the best combat rifles in use today. With no jamming at all and a unique design that continues to do its job killing the enemy. Guidelines

In reply to an earlier post on May 24, 2013 7:30:35 AM PDT
A Reader says:
The dis-jointedness is probably related to the author's day job--newspaper writer. He is expected to crank out words that stand alone with a story that can be told in one newspaper column length.
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