American Gun by Chris Kyle: Book Review

American Gun: A History of the U.S. in Ten Firearms” tells a story of America as seen over the sights of 10 iconic firearms.  The author, Chris Kyle, accomplishes this by taking these ten American firearms and placing them in their historical context.   The tale that develops gives a broad look at the US from the time of its founding until the present.  It details the development and use of each of the firearms in the times they were prominent.  Kyle intersperses personal recollections and experience along with historical facts,some rather obscure, in to the story.  Being a firearms expert, with extensive combat experience, he obviously enjoys himself along the way
American Long Rifle

American Long Rifle

Starting with the American Long Rifle, Kyle tells the tale of how American sharpshooters broke the rules of gentlemanly behavior to help win American independence.   The story then moves to the Civil War era and the expansion West.  He tells of these times with three guns.

Spencer Rifle

Spencer Rifle

The first is the Spencer Rifle.  Kyle tells how the bureaucracy of the Civil war era Army almost nixed a gun that went on to help win decisive battles like Gettysburg.

Colt Single Action Army Revolver

Colt Single Action Army

The Colt Single Action Army Revolver comes out of the holster, next.  It’s story spans the Civil War and comes to a climax at the OK Coral in Tombstone, Arizona.

Winchester Model 73

Winchester Model 73

The last gun in this epoch is the  Winchester 73.   Kyle details its development and how it went on the help tame the West.

From the Wild West, the tale jumps forward to the turn of the century and through WWII.  The next trio of guns helped win WWI and then played important roles in the Gangster era of the 20’s and 30’s.  In the end, they went on to defeat the Axis powers in 1940s.

Springfield 1903

Springfield 1903

The first gun, the 1903 Springfield, is a story of adaptation and change.  Developed from the German Mauser, it went on to the trenches of France with the Doughboys.  In the hands of motivated Marines it was feared by Germans soldiers who carried the Mauser itself.

Colt 1911A1

Colt 1911A1

Along side the 1903 was the Colt 1911. Simple, yet innovative, this semi-automatic pistol changed the world.  First used by the military, it went on to fight in the  Banana Wars, as well as on both sides of the law in the Roaring 20’s and Depression era 30’s.  In WWII, it was used in every theater.  Even today, John Browning‘s design influences gun manufacturers world wide.

Thompson Submachinegun

Thompson Submachinegun

The final gun of the trio is the ubiquitous Thompson Sub Machine-gun.  Instantly recognizable as the weapon of choice of bootlegging gangsters, this gun also played an important role in defeating Germany and Japan.  It went on to see service in Korea, as well as the early years of the Vietnam War.

The last two guns in Kyle’s story tell of the modernization and coming of age of the US.

.38 Special Police Revolver

.38 Special Police Revolver

The first one is the .38 Special Police Revolver.  Developed in the early 20th Century, it really didn’t take off until the late 50’s early 60s.  As police departments modernized and standardized firearms, the .38 special became a favorite.  With simplicity and versatility, the .38 revolver family of guns became common place across the US.

M-16

M-16 In Action During the Vietnam Conflict

The last gun is the M-16.  Detailing the often time rocky development of the M-16, Kyle tells the story of a gun which has served the US military for going on six decades.  The M-16 changed the way the world looked at assault rifles, and has spawned many imitators and competitors as well as the current craze for ‘modern sporting rifles.’

Any review of “American Gun: A History of the US in Ten Firearms“, by Chris Kyle must speak of the unusual, and sad circumstances of its author and its publishing.  Chris Kyle was a true American hero.  A decorated Navy Seal veteran, Chris was credited with saving countless U.S. lives in multiple theaters of war.  After completing his enlistment, he became an accomplished writer.  He wrote of his SEAL exploits in the best selling book, “American Sniper” which was reviewed by Prepography in March of 2013.  As an avid shooter, he became involved with helping wounded vets through The Heroes Project.  By using shooting sports as therapy, he managed to help men that were still his brothers in arms.  Loving US history, Chris decided to write “American Gun: A History of the US in Ten Firearms“.  Sadly , on Feb. 2, 2013, before it could be completed, Chris was murdered by one of the vets he was trying to help.  Chris’s lovely wife, Taya Kyle, took up the mantle of getting the book finished and published.  With the help of author William Doyle, and many of Chris’s friends, the book was brought to bookstores.

Taya Kyle writes a very poignant forward for “American Gun: A History of the US in Ten Firearms“.  She tells of Chris’s vitally, honor and love for his fellow vets and country.  It is obvious that for everyone involved in finishing “American Gun: A History of the US in Ten Firearms” that it turned in to a labor of love; just as it had been for Chris.  In the last paragraph of the introduction, the publisher notes, “Lastly, no shadow hangs over these pages, despite the circumstances.  Chris was full of more life, humor and love of country than anyone who’ll ever cross your path.  That’s the spirit you’ll be lucky enough to meet as you turn the page.” I have to say I think the publisher got it right.

American Gun: A History of the US in Ten Firearms by Chris Kyle

american_gun_cover Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: William Morrow; 1st Printing edition (June 4, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0062242717
ISBN-13: 978-0062242716
Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches

Deliverance – Book Review

I have faint memories of watching a movie called Deliverance during my teen years.  I remembered it as a wilderness survival tale starring Burt Reynolds that had one particularly memorable yet unfortunate scene starring Ned Beatty.  Anyone who’s seen the movie will remember that particular scene and if you’ve read the book you can guess which scene I’m describing…I won’t ruin if for those of you who haven’t seen the movie or read the book so you can rest assured that there are no major spoilers in this Deliverance book review.

Deliverance Book ReviewI like survival tales so when I noticed an audiobook version of James Dickey’s novel, Deliverance was available and narrated by one of my favorite actors and narrators, Will Patton I bought it without knowing much more about it.  As it turned out, not only is this book the novel on which the screenplay (also written by James Dickey) was based, but it’s also a feature of many of the ‘Top 100 Novels’ lists including Time Magazine’s ‘All Time (since the magazine’s inception in 1923) 100 Novels.’

Deliverance is a first person narrated story of four middle aged friends who head into the backwoods of Georgia to canoe the fictional and savage Cahulawassee River before it disappears forever beneath the waters of the planned Cahulawassee Reservoir.

A series of misadventures eventually leads to the death of one of the canoeists and a local backwoodsman.  What follows is a struggle for survival.  The survival struggle takes multiple forms…it’s the men against the locals, the men against the river and it also takes place between the men and their own natures.  There’s nothing stereotypical about the way the canoeists react to their situation even as they are held captive to their stereotypical views of the local rednecks…this creates a story that doesn’t follow the expected pattern and is refreshingly original.

The main character and narrator, Ed Gentry a manager of a small graphic arts shop with no particular penchant for woodland survival.  He’s joined by his friend Lewis, a survivalist who owns rental properties as well as their buddies Bobby and Drew.  This is a story of perseverance and the will to survive more than a study in survival techniques, but the psychological aspects of survival and the characters’ reactions to suddenly transitioning from the civilized world to a savage one is fascinating to watch unfold.

What I wasn’t expecting when I selected this book was how beautifully and poetically written the story was.  While it was written nearly a half century ago its story and language are nearly timeless (the only features that date the story are a reference to the Kennedy assassination and frequent descriptions of how men wear their hats.  The language itself has an impressionistic, nonlinear quality that is incredibly descriptive and remarkably easy to follow.  Will Patton’s nuanced performance/narration perfectly complements Dickey’s colorful prose.

If you’re looking for one of the most well written psychological survival stories of all time…look no further.  Now I’m going to go watch the 1972 movie version, Deliverance starring Jon Voight, Burt Reynolds and Ned Beatty and Ronny Cox!

Choosing a Flashlight For Night Fighting

I was very fortunate to attend one of the Strategoes Low Light Instructor courses while I was employed as a police officer.  That particular Strategoes course was a week long course that trained me to become my department’s trainer and subject matter expert on low light engagements…in other words, night fighting for the police officer.  While I am now retired I’m fortunate to have decades worth of training to fall back on when times are tough and I thought I’d share some of what I learned about choosing a flashlight for night fighting both during that week and through my dual law enforcement and military careers. (more…)

Apocalyptic Movie Body Count Infographic

What was Hollywood’s take on the Apocalypse in 2013 and the resulting cinemagraphic body count?  Check out this infographic from Visual.ly on nine big budget ‘apocalyptic’ movies…well, really eight and the movie Grown Ups 2 thrown in for some strange reason.  Click on the ‘Read More’ button below to check it out.

Apocalypses Now

 

Prepper Pete Prepares – A Book Review

In general I’m very hesitant to expose very young children to the idea of preparedness.  Children need to feel loved and safe and the idea of preparedness can cause extreme anxiety in those not yet emotionally able to deal with the possibilities…heck, in my experience most adults aren’t intellectually and emotionally mature enough to understand the need for preparedness.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for teaching children age appropriate preparedness skills, just not scaring the wits out of them.  That said, when Kermit Jones, Jr. contacted me and said he’d like to send me a preparedness book he’d written for kids, I thought I’d at least see if he had a better approach.  That book is Prepper Pete Prepares: An Introduction to Prepping for Kids.

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Review of Going Home, A Novel of Survival

The publisher of Going Home, A Novel of Survival by A. American contacted me a couple of months ago and asked if I would be willing to review A. American’s debut novel.  The book had actually been on my wish list for a while so I jumped at the chance and they shipped over not just the first book, Going Home, but also the sequels Surviving Home and Escaping Home.  Unfortunately, the day job became a day, night and weekend job the past several months so I hadn’t been able to get around to reading Going Home.  I still couldn’t wait to read Going Home so prior to an extended car trip I purchased the newly available Audible version and started in.  While this was going to be a review of Going Home, I couldn’t wait to read the sequels so it’s really a review of the entire series to date. (more…)

The Host – Prepography Movie of The Week

I wasn’t a third of the way into The Host: A Novel when I knew something was awry so I Googled the author and discovered that it was written by Stephenie Meyerthe same woman who wrote The Twilight Saga.  I’m not even sure why I finished the book…I was probably too cheap not to attempt to get my money’s worth.  I’m sure there’s a fan base for stories that center primarily on a teenage girl’s inner monolog and angst…but they aren’t for me.

Still, there were elements to the story that I thought were interesting, notably how to survive as a member of an outcast society and the elaborate underground survival shelter that the human survivors developed to stay hidden from the parasitic invaders.  So, based on a recommendation from my daughter and the hope that the main character’s inner monologue wouldn’t transmit to the big screen, I recently watched the movie adaptation of The Host. (more…)

Quartermaster Report: Caltrops?

Andrew’s Note:  The Quartermaster brings us information on cool gear and equipment as well as the availability of cool gear and equipment.  Today’s report is on a very unusual item government surplus item up for sale at Government Liquidation, Caltrops! (more…)

Top 10 Survival Lessons from World War Z

Producer Brad Pitt recently released a big budget movie based on the popular apocalyptic zombie book World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War and starring…you guessed it, Brad Pitt.  I had a chance to see World War Z recently and have condensed the survival lessons presented down to the… Top 10 Survival Lessons from World War Z.

In addition to a big name cast headed by Brad Pitt as United Nations Inspector turned stay-at-home dad Gerry Lane and Mireille Enos as Karen Lane (not to mention a wonderful supporting cast for the international scenes) it has special effects so amazing that they took years to develop.

As I recall the book was written as a faux history based on oral interviews conducted after the recovery from a zombie war.  It was essentially a series of vignettes describing how different groups of survivors got through zombie plague.  Pitt’s movie draws on the environment developed by Max Brooks in his book for inspiration but is essentially a different story following Pitt’s character as he travels around the world searching for a cure to the zombie epidemic.

I’ve written before about how the proliferation of the zombie phenomenon is likely due to the fact that it’s a safe way for the average Joe to think about a collapse or TEOTWAWKI event in a relatively non-threatening way.  Think about that for a minute… with a zombie apocalypse the only thing you have to prepare for is animated corpses that don’t compete with you for resources… other than your own skin.

Warning:  Minor Spoilers Ahead

Top 10 Survival Lessons from World War Z (more…)

Dan Brown’s Inferno – A Review

I recently finished reading Dan Brown’s Inferno.  I almost always enjoy Brown’s novels (his misguided attempt at writing about signals intelligence in Digital Fortress was the sole exception).  I enjoy his blend of action, current events, history and fictional conspiracies.  I especially enjoy learning more about places I’ve visited and it makes me want to travel to see them once again.

Don’t worry, no spoilers of note will appear in this article…I want you to enjoy this book as much as I did.

I didn’t expect to be reviewing this book for these pages but the conspiracy in Inferno turned out to be a true ‘The End Of The World As We Know It (TEOTWAWKI) event… biological terror plot of Earth shaking proportions.

(more…)

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