American Rifle: A Biography (Hardcover)
George Washington insisted that his portrait be painted with one. Daniel Boone created a legend with one. Abraham Lincoln shot them on the White House lawn. And Teddy Roosevelt had his specially customized.
Now, in this first-of-its-kind book, historian Alexander Rose delivers a colorful, engrossing biography of an American icon: the rifle. Drawing on the words of soldiers, inventors, and presidents, based on extensive new research, and encompassing the Revolution to the present day, American Rifle is a balanced, wonderfully entertaining history of this most essential firearm and its place in American culture.
In the eighteenth century American soldiers discovered that they no longer had to fight in Europe’s time-honored way. With the evolution of the famed “Kentucky” Rifle—a weapon slow to load but devastatingly accurate in the hands of a master—a new era of warfare dawned, heralding the birth of the American individualist in battle.
In this spirited narrative, Alexander Rose reveals the hidden connections between the rifle’s development and our nation’s history. We witness the high-stakes international competition to produce the most potent gunpowder . . . how the mysterious arts of metallurgy, gunsmithing, and mass production played vital roles in the creation of American economic supremacy . . . and the ways in which bitter infighting between rival arms makers shaped diplomacy and influenced the most momentous decisions in American history. And we learn why advances in rifle technology and ammunition triggered revolutions in military tactics, how ballistics tests—frequently bizarre—were secretly conducted, and which firearms determined the course of entire wars.
From physics to geopolitics, from frontiersmen to the birth of the National Rifle Association, from the battles of the Revolution to the war in Iraq, American Rifle is a must read for history buffs, gun collectors, soldiers—and anyone who seeks to understand the dynamic relationship between the rifle and this nation’s history.
“Marvelous…. Like David McCullough in The Great Bridge, Rose has the rare ability to make technology come alive even for the non-technology-minded. He is not only a good historian but also a gifted storyteller.”—Michael Korda, Washington Post
“Fascinating…. The history of the U.S. is mirrored in the history of one of it technological achievements…. Loaded with detail, full of lively characters and an abundant spirit of invention. The history of the rifle is also the history of mass production, of American politics, of the legal system, and of war itself.”—Booklist
“Entertaining…. Loaded with facts…. Drawing on numerous primary sources, from letters and journals of ordinary soldiers to the writings of inventors such as Samuel Colt, Rose traces the rise of the rifle from its original use as a hunting tool and a means of defense and protection to its eventual use as an offensive weapon in wars of conquest.”—Publishers Weekly
“One of the most interesting nonfiction books of the year…. packed with fascinating anecdotes … and keen insights into the nexus of civilian politics, business, and the military.”—National Review
“Good reading for those on either side of the gun-control debate….A fascinating story replete with missed opportunities, skulduggery, entrenched dogma and internecine battles.”—Sunday Oregonian
“Ingenious and satisfying…. Provides surprising insight into the country’s history.”–Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“Definitive … full of lost historical fact and intriguing anecdotes.”–Sacramento Bee
"Irresistible history…American Rifle, a biography of a revolutionary idea, is ingeniously conceived, deftly written and thoroughly engrossing."—Dallas Morning News
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