Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture
Michael E. Bellesiles
Vintage, 2001 (2000)
Read an Excerpt
Reviewed by David Pitt
uess what: there are, according to the author, four different safety standards that regulate the manufacture of teddy bears, but none regulating the manufacture of firearms. Americans own 250 million guns, and are buying even more, at the rate of five million each year.
his is a lively, intelligent, passionate history of America's obsession with guns and Americans' bizarre notion that it is their '
' to own at least one firearm. Bellesiles' central premise, that '
America's gun culture is an invented tradition
,' is bolstered by plenty of evidence: for example, guns were actually quite scarce in the Old West, and the idea that everyone wore a sidearm is pure fantasy, a fiction created by dime-novel writers and inept historians and perpetuated by Hollywood and an American public that, when you come right down to it, liked the idea that it was their sacred right to walk around with a gun strapped to their hip.
he author, a history professor, could have given us a fat, statistic-filled tome, full of facts and figures. Luckily, he went another way, crafting a book that entertains as it educates. That's good, too: it means we might actually pay attention.
Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.
Find more NonFiction books on our
or in our book