* Journalist Kahaner (The Quotations of Chairman Greenspan: Words from the Man Who Can Shake the World) presents a detailed study of the AK-47, the single most deadly weapon ever produced, and its designer. Mikhail Kalashnikov, a mechanically inclined Russian soldier, came up with this simple submachine gun to counter superior German weaponry during World War II. Brought into mass production in 1947 (this date formed the final part of the weapon's name, Avtomat Kalashnikov 1947), the AK-47 was shipped by the Soviet Union to Eastern Europe, Africa, Asia, South America, and the Middle East during the Cold War. In part because they are so easy to make, 80 to 100 million AKs have been manufactured and distributed during the last 59 years. Moreover, the AK has proven a superior weapon to the American M-16. Kahaner provides an interesting discussion of how internal politics in the U.S. Army led it to adopt, instead, an inferior, lightweight machine gun. Kalashnikov, who lives in Russia today, never became rich from his design, but he did receive recognition outside his homeland for the impact of his weapon. A fascinating examination; recommended for all libraries.
—Stephen L. Hupp, West Virginia Univ. Lib., Parkersburg (Library Journal, October 15, 2006)
"Anyone who has fought or watched a war over the last half-century recognizes the AK-47, but few know much about it. Kahaner traces the rifle's role in wars from Vietnam to Iraq and from Central America to Central Africa. A fascinating biography of a weapon that has truly changed world history."
—Stephen Kinzer, author of Overthrow
"During the past half century, the AK-47 assault rifle has established itself as the most ubiquitous implement of destruction on the planet. No other gun comes close for its durability, low price, ease of operation, and sheer killing power. It has become a mainstay of armies and terrorists alike, and a universal icon of revolutionary upheaval. Larry Kahaner's book is the best history of this weapon that I have seen. AK-47: The Weapon That Changed the World will appeal to anyone who has ever watched the History Channel—or the evening news."
—Max Boot, senior fellow, Council on Foreign Relations, and author of The Savage Wars of Peace