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The Night of the Gun: A Reporter Investigates the Darkest Story of his Life--His Own Hardcover – August 5, 2008

4.0 out of 5 stars 320 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"After years of abuse, the memoir has found its white knight, galloping in to show how a personal story can be engrossing, shocking and true. Mr. Carr's book...practically issues a challenge to thosecurrent reigning kings -- David Sedaris, Augusten Burroughs, Ishmael Beah -- of the memoir genre: You get a video camera and tape recorder, and retrace the steps of your life. Will your story sound the same?...It adds up to a riveting, improbable story. More important, Mr. Carr has produced a work that stands to revive the excitement and thrill of reading about reporting. It's "All the President's Men," but about a dude from Minnesota with a drug habit."-- "New York Observer Review of Books"

Review

"[A] fierce, self-lacerating tale....writing full of that special journalistic energy that is driven by a combination of reporting and intelligence."
--Pete Hamill, The New York Times

"[A] remarkable narrative of redemption...He writes with grace and precision...With grit and a recovering user's candor, Mr. Carr has written an arresting tale..."
-- Edward Kosner, The Wall Street Journal

"3 stars. It's an odyssey you'll find hard to forget."
-- Kim Hubbard, People

"The Night of the Gun is about as dark and murky as dark and murky get. And though it is one of the most eloquent accounts of the seduction and snare of addiction, what's gotten lost in the water-cooler discussion about Carr's misadventures -- including drug peddling as well as his bout with cancer -- is that this book, in its sharp, serrated prose, is a meditation on how memory works (but mostly how it doesn't), a man's obsessive effort to get at his life's true narrative using the skills he's honed as a reporter, the one piece of his life that didn't combust."
-- George Lynell, L.A. Times

"After years of abuse, the memoir has found its white knight, galloping in to show how a personal story can be engrossing, shocking and true. Mr. Carr's book...practically issues a challenge to thosecurrent reigning kings -- David Sedaris, Augusten Burroughs, Ishmael Beah -- of the memoir genre: You get a video camera and tape recorder, and retrace the steps of your life. Will your story sound the same?...It adds up to a riveting, improbable story. More important, Mr. Carr has produced a work that stands to revive the excitement and thrill of reading about reporting. It's All the President's Men, but about a dude from Minnesota with a drug habit."
-- New York Observer Review of Books

"There may be no memoirist who has more skillfully used journalistic tools to reconstruct his own life than New York Times media columnist David Carr in his remarkable and harrowing book, The Night of the Gun....A."
--Jennifer Reese, Entertainment Weekly

"The Night of the Gun is in part a writerly exercise in defense and disarmament--memoir in the throes of an existential crisis. But that does not prevent it from being a great read. This is largely because, in using his reporter's chops to investigate his own past, Carr taps the very skills that propelled him to survive. His method, as much as his madness, is the story."
--Time

"He never asks for sympathy, but his skill and the way he has told his story deserves respect. The Night of the Gun is an amazingly honest and fascinating memoir."
-- Myrna Blyth, National Review

"The Night of the Gun, is the fierce, funny, disturbing, brutally honest, and ultimately uplifting story of Carr's decent into a self-inflicted hell and a bumpy return to life. Part investigative page-turner, part redemption song, part meditation on the mercurial nature of memory, The Night of the Gun pulls a besmirched genre out of the gutter, drags it through rehab, and returns it to a respectable place in society. And, if there is any justice, a place on the best-seller list."
-- Arianna Huffington on Veryshortlist.com --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1st Simon & Schuster Hardcover edition (August 5, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416541527
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416541523
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (320 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #455,443 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jesse Kornbluth on July 27, 2008
Format: Hardcover
"Let's say, for the sake of argument, that a guy threw himself under a crosstown bus and lived to tell the tale," David Carr writes. "Is that a book you'd like to read?"

Good question. Indeed, it's the question that prospective readers of "The Night of the Gun", Carr's warts-and-all memoir, will have to consider --- because this is that book.

Consider:

A talented kid without much direction graduates from high school pot smoking to cocaine at college.

He starts a career in journalism that has him reporting on police and government officials by day --- and freebasing cocaine at night.

He hooks up with a woman who deals dope. Driving to see her, he's so wrecked he almost crashes into a station wagon filled with kids. He skids into a ditch, has to spend the night in jail, misses his girlfriend's birthday. When he finally shows up, he gives her what can't be bought in any store: a black eye and a broken rib.

He introduces his girlfriend to crack. She gets pregnant. They become so thoroughly addicted that, just as her water is breaking, he's handing her a crack pipe. Their twin daughters are crack babies.

He splits with his girlfriend, and, because he has a nice job, keeps the girls with him. This does not stop him from locking them in the car while he runs into a dealer's house to score.

The gun: As he recalls it, he was so out of control that his best friend not only has to call the cops but wave a gun at him. His best friend remembers it another way --- as David's gun.

In detox, his arms are so nasty that the staffers have him reach into a tub of detergent so they don't have to touch him. It takes a full month for the drug psychosis to wear off.
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Format: Hardcover
I really wanted to like this book, and because of that I forced myself to read the final 200 pages, even though every instinct in my body told me to stop halfway through. I should have followed my gut. This book lacks any sort of actual depth. You don't get a good sense of what he went through, and I'll have to take his word that it was awful (it clearly was, but only because I know what his experiences were like, but he doesn't present the emotions in any way that you can connect to). Furthermore, I found the vast majority of it to be self-indulgent, almost as if he wanted to shout "These terrible things happened to me, and I did terrible things to others, but I'm actually a great, smart, funny, good looking guy!! I swear!!" A perfect example of this is as the end of the book he finally gets around to talking about the interviews he did with his daughters. An excellent opportunity to demonstrate how his behavior took him from being a God in their eyes to showing how he low he could fall. Instead what does he do? In a 3 page chapter covering both daughters he has about a paragraph from each of them, and in each paragraph they both say how intelligent he was. He doesn't conduct any interviews with the people who don't think he's great. For example, he talks about meeting his wife and how people told her to stay away from him. Why didn't he talk to any of them about what he did that made them hate him so much? Instead of interviewing some of his former employees who hated his guts he talks to the ones who say he was the best boss they ever had. I'm not saying he's a jerk, but everyone has people that dislike them, and in order to truly understand the awful things he did and how they affected people he should have talked to some of them.Read more ›
6 Comments 115 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover
The concept behind David Carr's memoir is intriguing. Stoned and drunk for much of his early life, the fact that he couldn't trust his own memories was brought home to him when he was shown that he completely misremembered an incident with a gun (hence the book's title). So, reporter that he is, he set out to interview people who knew him back in the day. He became an investigative reporter tracking down the young David Carr. Along the way, he discovered lots of things he said and did, but of which he has either no or distorted recollections.

So the angle that Night of the Gun takes is attractive. That's the good news. The bad news is that Carr can't quite deliver. For starters, the book is way too long and so the episodes Carr recounts (often with cinematic speed and compactness) tend to become repetitious. So there's a lot of words but not a lot of depth. Moreover, the lack of depth is reflected in the tough guy, Mickey Spillane style Carr chooses to write in, a style that comes across as inauthentic and, within just a few pages, incredibly annoying. Perhaps the point of the style is to create a living-on-the-edge ambience. But it doesn't work very well.

Ultimately, and most seriously, it's difficult to see what the point of Carr's book is. Is it to draw attention to the mysterious ways in which our memories deceive us? But if so, there's precious little real reflection on the issue, and most of it consists of unenlightening one-liners. (What a lost opportunity.) Is it to impress upon us the terrible things that drug and alcohol addictions do? But surely this has been done a bazillion times already in other memoirs as well as in films and novels (read anything by Hubert Selby, Jr., for example). Is the book intended to be a sort of celebrity confessional?
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9 Comments 84 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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