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American Gun: A History of the U.S. in Ten Firearms Hardcover – Deckle Edge, June 4, 2013
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Guest Review: Marcus Luttrell, author of Lone Survivor, reviews American Gun by Chris Kyle
Chris Kyle is not a man I ever thought I would refer to in the past tense. No matter how much danger he faced, we always knew Chris would come out alive with an awesome story filled with close calls. To say I lost a friend this year does not say enough. I lost someone I looked up to as a frogman and Texan brother. He exemplified each word of the SEAL Creed, and he deserves the highest honor and respect for what he put on the line to keep his brothers safe from the enemy. I know there are mothers and fathers out there right now who are grateful their son or daughter returned home from war thanks to Chris Kyle. He saved countless lives. Whether he sat high on a rooftop taking out the enemy threatening his teammates, or if he was fighting side-by-side with a Marine platoon, his mission was always clear: “draw on every remaining ounce of strength to protect his brothers.”
Chris gave a piece of his life to the SEAL teams, but there came a time when he needed to refocus on his family. No matter how difficult his decision to leave the military, he knew he was doing was right thing for his wife and two children. He became well known after the much-deserved success of his first book, American Sniper. The way he handled himself under the spotlight and shared his passions are a testament to the man he was. Chris gave away the proceeds of his book to veterans and families of fallen teammates. He was the founder of a security company that was dedicated to teaching fine skills to law enforcement and other security details. He was committed to his family, he was committed to helping veterans, he was committed to several charities, he was committed to serving others. That was Chris. He lived by his own rules, and I couldn’t respect him more.
I am so glad to see this important book, American Gun: A History of the U.S. in Ten Firearms, come to life, because it meant so much to Chris to get it completed. It’s a testament to his service, and it proves that he wasn’t a guy who just wanted to be known for his kill count. He had an incredible respect for his country, our history, and preserving the second amendment—he also had an almost unmatched knowledge of firearms. This book is filled with his passion for a fine gun, shows clearly how our national relationship with firearms got to where it is today, and reveals the many fascinating ways guns have shaped American history. It’s also a hell of a good read--full of amazing stories of American soldiers, cowboys, and heroes, from the Revolution, Civil War, Wild West, world wars, Iraq, and beyond.
I have to pay tribute to Chris’s wife Taya, who wrote the foreword and afterword in American Gun. Taya is carrying the torch for Chris, their kids, and for those who he fought to defend. She has promised to see through all of the projects Chris left behind, as well as ensure Chris's memory is honored as it should be. I think Chris married a person who may be stronger than even he was—that’s saying something. With Chris’s spirit beside her, she is never out of the fight. Lastly, y’all should know Taya and their kids receive the author proceeds of American Gun, so buy this awesome book in bulk and share with friends.
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Bestselling author Kyle (American Sniper) was putting the final touches on this discerning study of 10 firearms—completed by his widow and Doyle—that changed the course of warfare when he was killed at a gun range. Coupled with his goal of "talk history with the bullets flying," Kyle's picks—surefire debate fodder for gun enthusiasts—make for immersive reading as he recounts key battles during the Civil War, Spanish-American War, and WWII. Kyle's enthusiasm for his subject is infectious—even for professed doves—and his gift for narrative lends the stories the tension and drama they deserve. He brings to life the infamous shootout at the O.K. Corral and the Battle of Cowpens during the American Revolution, recounting close calls, colossal errors, and the weapons that gave one side a key advantage over another. Thanks to his experiences as a Navy SEAL, Kyle is intimately familiar with the construction, key features, and upkeep of all the featured weapons, which adds to his credibility and enables him to tell his stories in greater depth. Regardless of one's views on guns, readers will gain a deeper respect for weaponry and the people tasked with using them. (June)
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Top Customer Reviews
"American Gun" is an action-packed journey through American history through the barrels of ten noteworthy firearms. As the late-great hero Chris Kyle stated, "I've picked ten guns to serve as the flagship weapons for our America's past." Navy SEAL Team 3 Chief, Chris Kyle, with commendations too long to list, trainer and author of the Naval Special warfare Sniper Doctrine along with award-winning author William Doyle provide the public with a real treat. This riveting 320-page book is composed of the following ten firearms (chapters): 1. The American Long Rifle, 2. The Spencer Repeater, 3. The Colt Single-Action Army Revolver, 4. The Winchester 1873 Rifle, 5. The M1903 Springfield, 6. The M1911 Pistol, 7. The Thompson Submachine Gun, 8. The M1 Garand, 9. The .38 Special Police Revolver, and 10. The M16 Rifle.
1. Engaging story-telling and a clever way to go through American history. "Guns have always been present at the leading edge of American history--often crucially."
2. A fascinating topic in the hands of an American hero who tragically passed while writing the final stages of this book. A page turner.
3. Excellent format. Each chapter introduces the firearm in chronological order and proceeds to expertly immerse fascinating historical stories about it.
4. Plenty of diagrams and photos that add to the reading experience.
5. Kyle does a wonderful job of capturing the action-packed scenes of American history. Bravo!
6. A great book for people who normally wouldn't be enticed by firearms but are in fact interested in American history. I can't stress that enough.
7. Gun enthusiasts will be happy to know that despite Kyle's goal to make this book accessible to the masses he delivers in providing technical essentials of each firearm. There is also an excellent Appendix titled, "The Ten Guns, by the Numbers" that provides a useful synopsis.
8. A great selection of firearms. Kyle expertly describes each firearm with gusto. He provides the advantages and disadvantages of each weapon while also mentioning other weapons and influences.
9. A great selection of historical events are included here and then some. Ranging from the revolutionary war to Iraq, and everything in between. Many lesser-known battles as well but no less interesting.
10. In an unintended way the book serves to cover the evolution of weaponry. As the reader gets acquainted with some of the firearms Kyle skillfully uses that as a basis of reference to highlight limitations and the need for improvement.
11. The men behind the weapons. Kyle digs into the history of the inventors and the specific improvements made. As an example, the Winchester 1873 Rifle.
12. Does a wonderful job of describing the strengths and weaknesses of each weapon in terms of functionality and purpose. "The big daddy of all Plains rifles was the post-Civil War Sharps Big 50, the quintessential powerhouse buffalo gun. This piece contributed directly to the shaping of America by powering the final expansion of European settlers across the continent."
13. Movie stars and presidents (and future presidents) and their weapons of choice.
14. The story of how America became an international power.
15. Kyle's favorite sniper weapons.
16. Favorite gangster weapons. "America's most infamous public enemy of the era was undoubtedly John Dillinger, a Hollywood handsome bank robber who used the Thompson as his withdrawal slip."
17. The gun that saved the world...find out.
18. The history of .38 Specials. Famous firearms from other countries...like the Glock, AK47.
19. Famous attempted assassinations.
20. The evolution of the machine gun.
21. Heartfelt afterword and source notes.
1. This book was written for the masses and so historical gun enthusiasts (who already have a great grasp of its history) may want to pass on this.
2. No links to source notes.
3. No formal bibliography.
In summary, I really enjoyed this book! What a fun way to learn about American History and the firearms involved. Chris Kyle will be missed but I am grateful for his service and the historical knowledge he left behind. I highly recommend this book!
Further suggestions: "American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History" by Chris Kyle, "The Life and Legend of Chris Kyle: American Sniper, Navy SEAL" by Chris J. Mooney, "Glock: The Rise of America's Gun" by Paul M. Barrett, "No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden" by Mark Owen, "The Red Circle: My Life in the Navy SEAL Sniper Corps and How I Trained America's Deadliest Marksmen" by Brandon Webb, "SEAL Team Six: Memoirs of an Elite Navy SEAL Sniper" by Howard E. Wasdin, and "Massad Ayoob's Greatest Handguns of the World" by Massad Ayoob.
The impeccable research is evident in this well read book. Its interesting and evolving take on the American gun is captured in full blown detail from the mind of a shooting expert.