By C. J. Chivers
At a mystery arms-design contest in Stalin’s Soviet Union, military technicians submitted a stubby rifle with a curved journal. Dubbed the AK-47, it used to be chosen because the japanese Bloc’s average arm. Scoffed at within the Pentagon as crude and unimpressive, it used to be actually a breakthrough—a compact computerized which may be mastered by means of nearly someone, final a long time within the box, and might not often jam. synthetic via millions in deliberate economies, it turned first an device of repression after which the main deadly weapon of the chilly warfare. quickly it was once within the arms of terrorists.In a searing exam of recent clash and respectable folly, C. J. Chivers mixes meticulous old study, investigative reporting, and battlefield reportage to light up the origins of the world’s so much plentiful firearm and the implications of its unfold. the end result, a journey de strength of historical past and storytelling, sweeps during the miniaturization and distribution of computerized firepower, and places an iconic item in fuller context than ever earlier than. The Gun dismantles myths because it strikes from the naïve optimism of the commercial Revolution in the course of the treacherous milieu of the Soviet Union to the interior documents of the Taliban. Chivers tells of the 19th-century inventor in Indianapolis who designs a Civil struggle killing desktop, insisting that more-efficient slaughter will keep lives. A German attaché who observes British computer weapons killing Islamic warriors alongside the Nile advises his govt to acquire the guns that might later flatten British ranks in global conflict I. In communist Hungary, a locksmith acquires an AK-47 to assist wrest his nation from the Kremlin’s yoke, starting a trip to the gallows. The Pentagon suppresses the result of firing checks on severed human heads that would have avoided defective rifles from being rushed to G.I.s in Vietnam. In Africa, a millennial madman fingers kidnapped teenagers and turns them on their associates, environment his kingdom ablaze. Neither pro-gun nor anti-gun, The Gun builds to a terrifying series, within which a tender guy who confronts a trio of assassins is shattered by means of 23 bullets at shut diversity. the guy survives to invite questions that Chivers examines with rigor and flair.
Throughout, The Gun animates unforgettable characters—inventors, salesmen, heroes, megalomaniacs, racists, dictators, gunrunners, terrorists, baby squaddies, govt careerists, and fools. Drawing from years of study, interviews, and from declassified files printed for the 1st time, he provides a richly human account of an evolution within the very event of conflict.
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Additional resources for The Gun
Gatling was neither a military nor a social visionary. But he was a gifted tinkerer and an unrelenting salesman, and he found good help. His plans proceeded swiftly. S. 舡8 Gatling舗s battery gun, while imperfect in its early forms, was a breakthrough in a field that had frustrated everyone who had tried before. Since medieval times, the pursuit of a single weapon that could mass musket fire had confounded generations of military-minded gunsmiths and engineers. Gunsmiths had long ago learned to place barrels side by side on frames to create firearms capable of discharging projectiles in rapid succession.
But they too suffered. After one Soviet incursion, Massoud attended the funeral of a dead guerrilla. He lifted the man舗s Kalashnikov and carried it to the deceased man舗s younger brother, Ashrat Khan. The commander舗s mastery of quiet ceremony, like his sense for tactics, had reached a high state of polish. 舡 Massoud asked. Ashrat Khan extended his hands. He accepted the rifle. 舠Yes, I am going to take my brother舗s weapon,舡 he said. 舡5 At moments such as these, the Kalashnikov舗s infiltration of the martial world was nearing completion.
It would also be a different book. But the field-guide notion is worth addressing here. A small number of firearms references have attempted this, at least in part, and the United States military has quietly built an arms database, known as CHUCKWAGON, that provides this service to its users. The Pentagon舗s database includes data not just on weapon types by style and serial numbers and their sources of production but also on intermediate handlers, including governments and units that have possessed distinctly identifiable weapons at certain times.