C. J. Chivers
Simon & Schuster, New York, 2010, English
Nonfiction, Product/Industrial Design
9.4 x 6.3 inches, hardcover, 496 pages
ISBN: 9780743271738
Suggested Retail Price: $28.00

From the Publisher. C. J. Chivers mixes meticulous historical research, investigative reporting, and battlefield reportage to illuminate the origins of the world’s most abundant firearm and the consequences of its spread. The result, a tour de force of history and storytelling, sweeps through the miniaturization and distribution of automatic firepower, and puts an iconic object in fuller context than ever before. Throughout, The Gun animates unforgettable characters—inventors, salesmen, heroes, megalomaniacs, racists, dictators, gunrunners, terrorists, child soldiers, government careerists, and fools. Drawing from years of research, interviews, and from declassified records revealed for the first time, he presents a richly human account of an evolution in the very experience of war.

On 2 book lists
Phil Patton
Alice Rawsthorn

The Gun is one of those books whose author did not intend to write about design, but ended up doing so by happy accident, because it turned out to be inseparable from his or her chosen theme. The author of this book, C. J. Chivers, a former infantry officer in the U.S. Marines turned Pulitzer Prize-winning war correspondent for the New York Times, set out to show how the course of history has been determined by the merits of various firearms from the Gatling Gun onward, and by the deadly Soviet assault rifle, the AK-47, in particular.

In doing so, he produced one of the best books on product design I have ever read. As well as depicting the picaresque characters—the chancers, desperados, and crooks—who have invented guns through the centuries, Chivers unpacks the mythology of the AK-47’s “invention” in the 1940s by the wounded Soviet tank sergeant Mikhail Kalashnikov. He also delivers an adroit analysis of “good” design in the AK-47, and “bad” in its flawed U.S. equivalent, the Colt M-16.

comments powered by Disqus