Top Guns

American Gun by Chris Kyle

Books open doors to familiar places that look new.  I enjoyed such an experience between the covers of "American Gun: A History of theU.S. in Ten Firearms" by Chris Kyle. In the context of firearm innovations, Kyle examines historical events where guns played pivotal roles. The people who wielded the famous weapons were figures of fame as well as infamy, found on Mt Rushmore as well as in footnotes. For example, Theodore Roosevelt, Al Capone, the Dalton gang, Corporal "Zip" Koons and Sergeant Leigh Ann Hester entwined their lives with guns, as did the author. As Kyle reminds us, good often sits side-by-side with bad.

Tagged as "the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history," the author displays vast technical knowledge of hand-held armaments. Throughout its evolution, a firearm's effectiveness is determined by its power, bullet size and shape and magazine capacity, as well as its simplicity, durability and weight. Kyle skillfully shows how such factors have had a direct bearing in shaping our history. These details prompt the reader to imagine "what if" scenarios. As weapons became lighter, faster and more powerful, they became better tools at what they do: killing.

It is a tragic irony that Kyle was fatally shot before completing "AmericanGun." The final pages have an elegiac, heroic quality that sets them apart from earlier depictions of battles, assassinations and show downs.

--Bob S., Rock Road Branch

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