Book Review: American Gun by Chris Kyle with William Doyle

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I am going to preface this review with a bit of personal information so you can understand the impact of the book upon me. I am not a big person on history, battles, things of that nature. It’s not that I don’t know the basics, it’s just that there are some people who are fascinated by historical context, hallmark moments, amazing men or women who have an impact on the world. I am not one of those people. You may think I’m shallow, but it’s more that I prefer to live in the present, while acknowledging the past without delving too deeply into the details, if that makes sense.

Having said that, I was offered the opportunity to review “American Gun,” by Chris Kyle with William Doyle, and I was a little cautious about accepting the offer. I hate having free review copies sent to me if it turns out that I don’t have a lot of interest in the subject. It seems shady to do that (especially if I quit reading and never complete a review) and so I wasn’t sure if this is something I would read. I was so wrong.

“American Gun” is so easy, fun, and enlightening!!

Chris Kyle weaves the history of America and the history of guns seemlessly, and if you know any southern style storytellers, you will completely appreciate his mixing of casual commentary and historical information. He has funny anecdotes of key figures, such as Abraham Lincoln.

Another time, Lincoln showed up at a target practice for the 2nd U.S. Sharpshooters, one of the few specialized Union marksmen units. He borrowed a rifle from one of the surprised soldiers in Company F and scored three good shots as the men whooped and hollered. A witness reported that Lincoln “handled the rifle like a veteran marksman, in a highly succesful manner, to the great delight of the many soldiers and civilians surrounding.”

“Boys,” said the President to the cheering troops, “this reminds me of old-time shooting!” Now, that’s a commander in chief any combat vet would be proud to serve.

And in another section, about the Colt Peacemaker, Kyle shares:

Probably just as important on the frontier and range, the weapon could take a beatin’ and still kick ass. “Sometimes a bad horse would blow up and send my Colt doing fart-knockers across the prairie,” said one old-time cowboy from Montana. “I’d just blow the dust off of it and shove it back in the holster. It was the only handgun you could trust that way.”

As he goes through the 10 guns that he believes had a major impact on American history, Kyle ties in each weapon’s history to the next weapon, going into the history of the arms makers, writing about how the weapon came about and how it was introduced to the public, usually through timely use in battles and word of mouth on the merits of the gun.

He analyzes different battles or uses of the guns and the effects. From the Revolutionary War to the Wild West, from Vietnam to Iraq, he gives us stories and uses of the weapons, including other, similar guns that appeared concurrently. Kyle’s writing style and “voice,” as it were, are so familiar to people who have ever been around military men. The admiration, the occasional “badass” thrown in, the humor…they are all very much a part of this book and I loved it.

This book is well worth your money and time. I was so worried that I would be bored or overwhelmed at too many tiny details but this book is the opposite. It is exciting and funny and has so much information that is interesting. I recommend it highly to anyone who has interests in either firearms or history. The book releases tomorrow, 6/4/2013, so get thee to a bookstore or buy it online at one of the major online book outlets. You won’t be disappointed, I promise.

As a footnote, I am terribly saddened that this man, who was not only a superb military man, patriot, husband, father, and writer was lost to senseless violence, his writing voice is also now lost to America. RIP Chris Kyle, thank you for a great final work of art.

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