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Glock: The Rise of America's Gun Hardcover – January 10, 2012

4.4 out of 5 stars 446 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

As most people probably know, America’s gun, so called here because it is the sidearm most favored by law enforcement, the criminal element, and the entertainment industry, is not an American weapon. It’s Austrian, designed 30-odd years ago by a radiator-factory manager who didn’t know enough about guns to know he was breaking all kinds of rules when he built the thing. The Glock, named for its inventor, was a lame-duck entry in an open competition to design a new sidearm for the army. To the surprise of everyone, the Glock was named the winner. A handful of years later, the FBI, reeling from the massacre of several of its agents by better-armed criminals, was in the market for a new, more effective sidearm. They, like the Austrian army, chose the Glock for its simplicity of design, its near-perfect performance, and its ability to hold more ammunition than the standard revolver. This was the jumping-off point for a marketing blitz that catapulted Glock to international superstardom. The book is an informative, frequently surprising account of the evolution of America’s gun culture and the gun that helped define it. --David Pitt


“This book—from a top-notch reporter—will enlighten you about both gun culture and business culture. It’s fascinating, even-handed, and packs considerable punch!” —Bill McKibben, bestselling author of The End of Nature, Deep Economy, and The Age of Missing Information
“Glock is a riveting tale with masterful pacing and meticulous research. Paul Barrett knows his subject intimately, and it shows. . . . It’s a must-read for anyone with an interest in handguns or the firearm industry or even American pop culture.” —Cameron Hopkins, editor in chief, Combat Tactics magazine; American Rifleman’s Industry Insider blog

“With his customary insight and crystal-clear style, Paul Barrett has told the story of how a simple toolmaker from Austria came to be the dominant force in the manufacture and sale of pistols in the United States. . . . Glock is not at all just for the gun enthusiast. This book is for anyone concerned about the level of gun violence in America, and that should be all of us.”
—Richard Aborn, president, Citizens Crime Commission of New York City; former president, Handgun Control, Inc.
“Glock is a great read. Very informative from both a technical and historical standpoint—warts and all.” —Frank A. DiNuzzo, chief firearms instructor, New York State Police (ret.); chief instructor, Glock, Inc. (ret.)
“Paul Barrett’s Glock is a fascinating and bizarre tale of an entrepreneur, a weapon, and a nation’s love affair with guns.” —Jeffrey Toobin, staff writer, The New Yorker; author of The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court
“Colt, Smith & Wesson, Winchester, Remington: These were the American firearms industry’s major players for 150 years. In the 1980s they were joined by a foreign upstart, Glock, which soon overtook them all. Paul M. Barrett ably investigates Glock’s seemingly inexorable rise to power, profit, and predominance in this riveting story of how a plastic Austrian pistol...transformed into America’s chosen gun.” —Alexander Rose, author of American Rifle: A Biography
 “It’s a story that pulls back the curtain on a secretive company that was apparently willing to do whatever it took to be successful. And it’s a heckuva good read.” —Jim Shepherd, The Outdoor Wire

"Barrett is right on target, delivering a well-oiled, fact-packed, and fast-paced history of the Glock."¯Publishers Weekly

“Offering huge discounts and shrewdly marketing to police from its facility in Smyrna, Ga., [Glock] employed Gold Club strippers and Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders to attract crowds, entertain clients and lend the pistol a sexy cachet that grew exponentially when it popped up all over TV and movies as the gun of choice for cops and killers alike. . . A colorful case study of the manufacturer who beat long-entrenched, legendary brands at their own game.” ¯Kirkus 

“An informative, frequently surprising account of the evolution of America’s gun culture and the gun that helped define it.” ¯Booklist

"How a pistol developed by an unknown engineer with little firearms experience became the dominant, if not iconic, law enforcement handgun in the United States. . ."--The Washington Post

"Gun enthusiasts and gun detractors will almost surely read the saga of Glock, told expertly by journalist Paul M. Barrett, with divergent views...His authoritative voice permeates the nonfiction narrative. His own views about Glock and other weapons merchants are not easy to decipher, which is perhaps one of his book’s many strengths."--Dallas Morning News

"An engaging history of the most famous handgun in contemporary America. Barrett..[has] impressive knowledge of criminal and weapons history in the United States, as well as of Glock's business practices."--The New York Times Book Review

"It's rare for a nonfiction book to read like a thriller, but that's what happens with "Glock." The book covers an intriguing and important topic, and it does so with panache and accuracy. Anyone interested in guns or gun control should read it."--The Washington Times

“With an almost breezy, extremely readable style journalist Paul Barrett has written the definitive biography of a gun that has become the standard for American firearms.”--Florida Times Union

“Smart and engrossing.”
San Francisco Chronicle

“A compelling tale…a fascinating look at one man’s extraordinary success.”
Wall Street Journal

“The sometimes shocking details about Glock…moves the reader from one anecdote to the next. . . . certain to fascinate audiences regardless of their thoughts on the Second Amendment.”
Atlanta Journal-Constitution


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Crown; 1St Edition edition (January 10, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307719936
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307719935
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (446 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #551,946 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Alberto Vargas VINE VOICE on December 28, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The Glock is indeed a cultural phenomenon in America, and an innovative product (at least when it first appeared), with an interesting story behind it. So I was looking forward to reading this book. In some ways I was satisfied, but in others I ultimately disliked the book. My review is based on a pre-release sample of this book, so there is some chance that the published version is slightly modified, but I am sure that most of it will be the same. I hope you find this review useful.

In a nutshell, the author manages to capture the story of Glock - the company, the pistol, and the man behind it all. However, he also inserts a lot of commentary about guns in America which detracts from the story.


- You do not need any knowledge about Glock or firearms to read this book. The author describes in detail how revolvers and semi-autos work and how Glock is different.
- The book follows the major (and even lesser known) developments in the firearms market and legislation in the US throughout the history of Glock as a company. It starts with the 1986 Miami FBI shootout which precipitated the large-scale move away from revolvers towards semi-auto pistols. It covers things like the assault weapons ban and funny deals that Glock (the company) was involved in to try to buy back large capacity magazines and make a profit. Who knew that Rahm Emanuel, then a staffer in the White House and now mayor of Chicago, was involved in getting the major gun manufacturers to agree to voluntary safety locks?
- Gaston Glock and the people around him are well described with vivid vignettes. For example, how even after he was financially successful, he would apparently collect those little sample shampoos from hotels.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
As the satisfied owner of a Glock 23 I was immediately interested in this book. I had decided a couple of years ago to get my first handgun and wanted to make a good decision. In my research I read a lot and made a point to talk with as many policemen as I could get to talk to me.

Out of all of my study one pistol clearly took the lead and that was the Glock. I had not really heard about the Glock before I started my research so this was all new territory to me. The major feature I heard over and over was its reliability; this came mostly from the policemen I had talked to about handguns. I even found that officers who did not carry a Glock were recommending that was the pistol I should get.

I took that first step of buying the Glock and selected the Model 23 because it used the 40 S&W ammunition. This had better stopping power than the Model 17 which used the nine-millimeter ammunition many had told me. After that I signed up for classes and eventually got my concealed handgun license. So far the gun has been used only on a range and has performed flawlessly.

When I saw the book on Glock was available I ordered it immediately; after buying and using the gun I have continued to hear many, many good things about this pistol and I was interested in more details about the gun and how it came to be.

This book does a grand job of telling the story of the pistol and the man behind the pistol, Gaston Glock. The book actually starts with a description of an infamous shootout in Miami, Florida in 1986 where the FBI is outgunned by bank robbers. This disastrous experience was the catalyst for law enforcement agencies to shift from revolvers to pistols with much larger magazines.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
A new book about Glock pistols is always welcome when so few are out there. This book is history, though, not a how-to manual on proper pistol use. It is business history, the most interesting kind of history. As the story of Glock moves from its native soil in Europe to the much larger and astoundingly lucrative North American market the book also becomes social history and of course, political history. This is its virtue: a true story about the little-company-that-could, standing up to the big boys (Beretta, Smith & Wesson, H&K) and striking pay dirt on its first effort in a strange, new market. This is the kind of story that does not get old, no matter how many times it is told. Being largely unaware of the very competitive gun industry I found the story of the curtain rod manufacturer who made a gun very interesting.

While a fan and an owner of several Glocks I was never quite clear on the company's history and struggles until this book. There is some anti-gun bias in this book, but I'll cut the author a break and acknowledge that he does have to cover all sides of the gun debate in the US. This matters less to me now than in the past. As gun ownership soars around the country (indeed, cross-state conceal carry is one the hottest topics in Washington right now) more and more law-abiding citizens see the benefit for themselves in owing and keeping arms near at hand. As a consequence the anti-gun left has less influence on Main Street or on the Hill than in the past.

Enjoy this book: learn about how a plastics maker in Bavaria came to dominate the handgun market in little less than a generation. It's a great story.
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