© 2013 Chris Kyle
Think of English history, and longbows, tall ships, and shieldwalls may come to mind; think of France, and perhaps the image is knights charging across an open field. But American history, from the colonies onward, has been written in guns. Hunting frontiersmen became rebels, created a nation, expanded its borders far and wide, and protected itself from enemies within and without. In American Gun, a much-lauded Navy SEAL reviews the history of ten firearms which have an outsized role in American history. Beginning with the long rifles of the colonial militia and wrapping up with the M-16 that began to be used two hundred years later, Kyle’s personable history mixes technical and political history; each chapter delves into the background of the firearm, the circumstances that prompted it to be designed and the path it took to be accepted. These are not all military weapons; the Colt that graces the cover of the book and the Winchester 1873 rifle were pervasive in the late 19th century as settlers filled and civilized the west, and a pistol associated strongly with the police appears in the latter half of the book. The ten guns are mostly rifles and pistols, with the Tommygun being an outlier; there are no shotguns. I read this chiefly because I thought it was such an interesting angle to view American history from, and quite appropriate. I was especially glad to read histories of pieces I have a fondness for, the Colt 1911 and the M1 Garand. There’s a lot of fascinating trivia in here; I’d long regarded the scenes of Lincoln firing Spencer repeating rifles on the White House lawn as fanciful, but apparently he was quite the shooting enthusiast.
(Er…not quite Read of England material, but when I learned of the book I immediately wanted to read it. The first chapter is all about England, though..it’s just that Englishmen are being shot at…)