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American Rifle: A Biography

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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 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. From the Hardcover edition.


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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 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. From the Hardcover edition.

30 review for American Rifle: A Biography

  1. 5 out of 5

    Cav

    As a firearms enthusiast, I naturally put this one on my "to read" list when I found it. Given that, I went into it with high hopes. I wanted to see where the writer would take this story... Author Alexander Rose is an American author and a historian, according to his Wikipedia page. Alexander Rose: American Rifle tells the story of the history of the long gun in America; just as its title implies. He begins in the early days; when the European colonialists brought firearms with them from t As a firearms enthusiast, I naturally put this one on my "to read" list when I found it. Given that, I went into it with high hopes. I wanted to see where the writer would take this story... Author Alexander Rose is an American author and a historian, according to his Wikipedia page. Alexander Rose: American Rifle tells the story of the history of the long gun in America; just as its title implies. He begins in the early days; when the European colonialists brought firearms with them from the motherland. Rose mentions that the process of "rifling" a gun barrel to increase a projectile's spin and accuracy was first used by the skilled German gunsmiths of Pennsylvania. It continues on, talking about the wars with the Native Americans, the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, some Cold War battles - and up to the modern-day. The book is heavily annotated with footnotes and references, but unfortunately, I found most of the writing here to be overly dry, arduous, and slow; which is sadly somewhat typical of many history books I've read... The book extensively details the minutia of many battles; including notable soldiers, and specific stats. It also details exact machining specifications, and many other minuscule details that have the reader losing the forest for the trees, sadly. If you are into that kind of thing, then maybe this one will be of interest to you. Judging by the other reviews here, there are many that felt that way. Although I am very interested in the subject matter of this book, I feel that the writing here left much to be desired... 2.5 stars.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Luke

    "American Rifle" is a fascinating biography of an authentic American artifact: the American rifle. Although Rose is quick to point out that the 'American' rifle has multicultural influences (the process of rifling a gun barrel to increase a musketball's spin and accuracy was established by the German gunsmiths of Pennsylvania), he does a wonderful job of describing how the history of the United States steered the development of the American rifle. I found "American Rifle" to be a detailed, artic "American Rifle" is a fascinating biography of an authentic American artifact: the American rifle. Although Rose is quick to point out that the 'American' rifle has multicultural influences (the process of rifling a gun barrel to increase a musketball's spin and accuracy was established by the German gunsmiths of Pennsylvania), he does a wonderful job of describing how the history of the United States steered the development of the American rifle. I found "American Rifle" to be a detailed, articulate biography about a subject that I admittedly knew very little about. The author has a good grasp on the technical aspects of rifle-making but is careful not to overwhelm the novice with overly technical discussions. The biography does a wonderful job of detailing the path of the rifle world-wide with a particular emphasis on American rifles. From the American Revolution to Operation Iraqi Freedom, "American Rifle" describes the rifles that have been used to fight on foreign or American soil. Most interesting was the negotiating and positioning that happened in-between conflicts, in my opinion. Rose does a great job, describing the politics and behind-the-scenes machinations of aspiring gun-smiths hoping to get their new invention tested by the Department of Ordnance and adopted as the next US Army Service rifle. Also fascinating was the conflict between the "diehard contingent" (who preferred mass firepower) and the "progressive contigent" (who preferred sterile, precise accuracy). Rose does a wonderful job of tracing this conflict from the American Revolution to the current day, in its many incarnations. I enjoyed this book very much and more importantly, I feel like I learned a lot in the reading. Thank you for taking the time to read my review of "American Rifle". I hope that you will enjoy this book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Terry Tucker

    This book was published in 2008 and consists of 12 chapters, or 409 reading pages, not including index, notes, etc. The book begins with George Washington and the development of the Rifle/Musket and concludes with Colt's lawsuit over copyright infringement with HK's troubleshooting of the M4, which was at the request of SOCOM. There are many fascinating tidbits in each chapter. No spoiler, but for instance, why did George Washington have his portrait painted with a shouldered rifle? To get a gli This book was published in 2008 and consists of 12 chapters, or 409 reading pages, not including index, notes, etc. The book begins with George Washington and the development of the Rifle/Musket and concludes with Colt's lawsuit over copyright infringement with HK's troubleshooting of the M4, which was at the request of SOCOM. There are many fascinating tidbits in each chapter. No spoiler, but for instance, why did George Washington have his portrait painted with a shouldered rifle? To get a glimpse of this, see the Peale Portrait of Washington. Other interesting information was the transformation and evolution of the US Arsenal at Springfield and Rock Island; the adoption of the Krag and the development of the Springfield Model 1903. All in all a good book, one especially made for winter afternoons and reading beside the fireplace.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Judy Scheibach

    I can't stay awake while reading this book. I think I'm now programmed that whenever I see the phrase "ordnance department", I fall asleep immediately. I can't stay awake while reading this book. I think I'm now programmed that whenever I see the phrase "ordnance department", I fall asleep immediately.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    The quintessential American firearm is the rifle, which through centuries of colonization and growth, has served in both myth and fact. I use myth not in the modern disparaging sense, but rather its traditional and valuable sense: myth as meaning. The rifle is the perfect complement to the American legend of the ‘rugged individualist’ — whether he’s a sharpshooter, taking down British officers in the Revolutionary War, or a plains pioneer, defending his family from wolves or bringing home supper The quintessential American firearm is the rifle, which through centuries of colonization and growth, has served in both myth and fact. I use myth not in the modern disparaging sense, but rather its traditional and valuable sense: myth as meaning. The rifle is the perfect complement to the American legend of the ‘rugged individualist’ — whether he’s a sharpshooter, taking down British officers in the Revolutionary War, or a plains pioneer, defending his family from wolves or bringing home supper. American Rifle: A Biography is a fulsome history of how rifles in America evolved and entrenched themselves, and grew both in culture estimation and in technical sophistication. The rifle’s technical maturation is the book’s primary focus, but culture enters in often, as we learn about the NRA originally organizing to train the American public into marksmen, and the German military’s influence on American military organization. German arms also inspired one American rifle, as well as a Soviet piece, the AK-47. Slowing the book down atimes is the extensive coverage of sludgy bureaucracy that new advances had to get through to become the official service weapon of the military, and this sludge becomes progressively thicker throughout the years. It’s thus a… challenging read for the potential reader who isn’t a total rifle enthusiast, and my interest peaked with the M1 Garand. I spent two months trying to move from 1940 to 2003, through the mire of extensive debates between Europe and America on what should be the official round of NATO, followed by the problems of the M14.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Anson Cassel Mills

    I’m not a gun owner and have no particular interest in guns. (Probably through good luck, I did earn a sharpshooter medal after I was drafted during the Vietnam era.) I became interested in this book while reading a newsletter interview with Alexander Rose. His comments were so engaging that after the first page I made a mental note to order the book for my college library. By the third page, I determined to read it myself as soon as it came in. I was not disappointed. American Rifle is a well-co I’m not a gun owner and have no particular interest in guns. (Probably through good luck, I did earn a sharpshooter medal after I was drafted during the Vietnam era.) I became interested in this book while reading a newsletter interview with Alexander Rose. His comments were so engaging that after the first page I made a mental note to order the book for my college library. By the third page, I determined to read it myself as soon as it came in. I was not disappointed. American Rifle is a well-conceived, well-written examination of the role of the rifle in American history. Thoughtful and non-polemical, it is especially helpful in explaining the technical aspects of rifle design and manufacturing to readers like myself. Rose also seems to have a fine sense of how much curious trivia he can introduce without making his reader aware of the rabbit trail. My only criticism is a peculiar one for such a nicely written book. In his attempt to be engaging, Rose sometimes goes a bit over the top with his prose, sometimes using unnecessary adjectives or an overly flashy verb, sometimes not getting a phrase quite right—for instance, writing “helpless swine” instead of “hapless swine” (325). I hate to niggle; this is a great book.

  7. 5 out of 5

    John

    This was an interesting read of the politics of the history of the development of American rifle development from the colonial period to the modern era looking mainly at the main issue rifles of the American military. As someone who owns and is interested in firearms I found the history of their development very interesting, although I can see how someone who is only a shooter and not into the political history of guns could find this book shallow. The most interesting theme of the book was the This was an interesting read of the politics of the history of the development of American rifle development from the colonial period to the modern era looking mainly at the main issue rifles of the American military. As someone who owns and is interested in firearms I found the history of their development very interesting, although I can see how someone who is only a shooter and not into the political history of guns could find this book shallow. The most interesting theme of the book was the differences between the political factions arguing for accuracy (the rifle school) vs massed fire (the musketry school). This left me longing for my college days when I almost got a PhD in Science Studies with a focus on the influence of military procurement on scientific inquiry.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ted

    Fairly well written look at a fascinating subject. History, politics, war, technology, psychology, bureaucracy, procurement, public relations, lobbying and more figure into the story of the American rifle from pre-revolutionary Colonial times into the first decade of the 21st century. And I'm now enduring the desperate need to know what's happened in the past 10 years and what will happen in the next 300. Well worth the time. Fairly well written look at a fascinating subject. History, politics, war, technology, psychology, bureaucracy, procurement, public relations, lobbying and more figure into the story of the American rifle from pre-revolutionary Colonial times into the first decade of the 21st century. And I'm now enduring the desperate need to know what's happened in the past 10 years and what will happen in the next 300. Well worth the time.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Rob

    A book about guns shouldn't read like a novel, but this one quite nearly does. Fascinating stuff. Learned quite a bit not just about the weapons, but the conflicts for which they were developed. Great history book, and not so technical that you have to be a gunsmith to understand it. Terrific book. A book about guns shouldn't read like a novel, but this one quite nearly does. Fascinating stuff. Learned quite a bit not just about the weapons, but the conflicts for which they were developed. Great history book, and not so technical that you have to be a gunsmith to understand it. Terrific book.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kbullock

    Lots of interesting history here. The author's quirky writing style is distracting at times, and it makes me wonder if there was an editor involved at all. One example, from the section on the development of the M1 Garand: "In the late 1930s sample rifles were made deliberately difficult to get ahold of." Lots of interesting history here. The author's quirky writing style is distracting at times, and it makes me wonder if there was an editor involved at all. One example, from the section on the development of the M1 Garand: "In the late 1930s sample rifles were made deliberately difficult to get ahold of."

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jim Bow

    I don't own a gun, never have, never want to, but this book is absolutely fascinating. A great glimpse into American history by following the evolution of the rifle. The politics of military procurement is almost comical. Five stars! I don't own a gun, never have, never want to, but this book is absolutely fascinating. A great glimpse into American history by following the evolution of the rifle. The politics of military procurement is almost comical. Five stars!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Andy

    Firearms and warfare, an obvious complement to the Emily Dickinson biography I finished earlier this month. I am convinced. It is impossible to write a book about firearms without outraging either the peaceniks or the “gun enthusiasts” and I’ll admit right up-front that my sympathies lie with the doves. I approached American Rifle with serious reservations, further compounded by the book’s dubious subtitle: A Biography. Clearly, this book is not a biography, a history of a person’s life. This is Firearms and warfare, an obvious complement to the Emily Dickinson biography I finished earlier this month. I am convinced. It is impossible to write a book about firearms without outraging either the peaceniks or the “gun enthusiasts” and I’ll admit right up-front that my sympathies lie with the doves. I approached American Rifle with serious reservations, further compounded by the book’s dubious subtitle: A Biography. Clearly, this book is not a biography, a history of a person’s life. This is the history of an object explicitly designed to extinguish life. With the title, I sensed that there was an agenda afoot, and that was confirmed by the contents of the book. Throughout, Rose focusses on the guns. He treads very lightly on the subject of the human cost of the rifle, which includes the horrible gore of the Civil War (due in part to the introduction of the Minie ball), the decimation of Native American culture in the West (directly through conflict and indirectly through the extermination of the buffalo), along with much, much else. The rifle is not such an innocuous invention as, say, the television and its history should not be presented as such. Much of the research contained here is drawn from military and ballistics sources, and in assessing the impact of rifle design changes on the battlefield, Rose often retreats to similarly impassive language and numbing statistics. At points, the narrative even appears to revel in the gore, as when Rose describes the tendency of an early prototype of the M16 to inflict massive, gaping wounds when it was first tested in Vietnam. At the very least, this is a conflicted work, attempting to appeal to the general populace while not offending the gun enthusiasts, who no doubt eagerly devour histories like Rose's. Incidentally, the National Rifle Association—which has traditionally supported the marksmanship school of rifle design over automatic and semiautomatic models—actually comes out looking like a very progressive organization. (Surely, after publishing this book, Rose will never again have to pay membership dues.) Now don’t get me wrong, with all of its faults, this book is still worth reading. In their long history, firearms have redefined warfare and shaped the development of modern civilization. A modern rifle is the embodiment of over 700 years of invention and refinement, and as this book illustrates, the rifle’s evolutionary path in America—from Revolutionary War-era muskets to today’s M16—has not been a straight-forward one. There have been numerous starts, stops, and dead-ends in the design process, unholy technical compromises expedited by external politicking, and no end to the debate about design philosophy. One of the key questions is, should a rifle be designed for accuracy and marksmanship or should it be designed to overwhelm enemies with a flurry of bullets? This debate continues today with the development of the successor (possibly, successors) to the forty-five-year-old M16. Containing detailed discussion of advances in firing mechanisms, barrel design, caliber, propellants, cartridges—really a huge variety of topics—the history presented here is technical, but I found it very readable and actually quite engaging. American Rifle is clearly not for everyone, but if like me you’re willing to hold your judgment about presentation and authorly agenda in reserve, you might find that you actually enjoy this history. For me, this book fits squarely in the category of “Know Thy Enemy”.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Randy

    American history told from the POV of the “rifle” (from the German riffeln—to cut or groove). The rifle differs from the musket because grooves were cut into the inside of the barrel causing the emerging projectile to spin like a football spiral which increased accuracy immensely. German gunsmiths settled in Pennsylvania and developed what became known as the Kentucky Rifle. From the Kentucky Rifle we get the cult of marksmanship and an argument that has continued from our earliest history to th American history told from the POV of the “rifle” (from the German riffeln—to cut or groove). The rifle differs from the musket because grooves were cut into the inside of the barrel causing the emerging projectile to spin like a football spiral which increased accuracy immensely. German gunsmiths settled in Pennsylvania and developed what became known as the Kentucky Rifle. From the Kentucky Rifle we get the cult of marksmanship and an argument that has continued from our earliest history to the present time. That argument revolves the issue of accuracy vs firepower. Is it better to have well-trained marksmen shooting with accuracy at a distance or masses of weapons laying down a heavy field of fire? One might think this book boring except to a gun nut. But, it isn’t. The author gives us a well-researched recounting of our history and makes a strong argument that the rifle has been an important mover of events. He goes into great detail on the technological developments that led to improvements in ammunition and firing mechanisms. The politics and in-fighting as new weapons were adopted is involved. Great personalities promoted their favorites. Inventors enter and leave the stage. The repeating rifle appears. The buffalo disappears. The Indians are marginalized. The pioneers move West, all carrying rifles. It’s not hard to see how a gun culture developed in this county though “gun culture” is not a part of the author’s study here. From the earliest days of our nation’s history nearly everyone owned and used a gun. In the evolution of the rifle nothing is more significant than being able to shoot multiple rounds before reloading. With the handgun, the revolver was the big idea and is still in use today. The cover of American Rifle features a very fancy lever action repeating rifle, another weapon one can afford to own. And, although, through time the magazine fed automatic and semi-automatic weapons gained in popularity the revolver and level action rifle are still very popular. If one were to Google “cowboy action shooting” you would learn that there is a niche within the gun community who, like reenactors, dress up in period gear and, in timed competition, fire weapons that were popular in the nineteenth century. They will use two single action revolvers that have had their trigger and hammer mechanisms “slicked” (think “hair trigger), a lever action rifle (also slicked) shooting a .38 caliber round (the same as the revolvers) and a double-barreled shot gun. Actually, a pretty good choice as an arsenal particularly for people not that familiar with guns or who don’t or won’t be able to practice regularly. The first half of the book is the interesting and readable. In the twentieth century the convoluted politics of gun development and promotion seem as complicated as the space program as companies, countries and individuals vied to build the guns that the government would adopt. A lot of familiar faces appear. It’s a very good and very educational read.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Tripp

    Alexander Rose's American Rifle is subtitled A Biography. While this is a bit odd, it makes sense as he focuses on a centuries long tension in the development of the rifle in the United States. In it and the country's youth, the focus was on long range accuracy. The idea was that a single well trained marksman would be most effective against the hordes of, generally poorly trained, enemies the young nation would likely face. As time and experience wore on, the idea of mass firepower, expressed in Alexander Rose's American Rifle is subtitled A Biography. While this is a bit odd, it makes sense as he focuses on a centuries long tension in the development of the rifle in the United States. In it and the country's youth, the focus was on long range accuracy. The idea was that a single well trained marksman would be most effective against the hordes of, generally poorly trained, enemies the young nation would likely face. As time and experience wore on, the idea of mass firepower, expressed in less accurate automatic fire came into conflict with this approach. Some, including the National Rifle Association thought the move towards shorter range, semi-automatic weapons was an attack on the individualistic ideal that the marksmen represented. This idea carried as far as World War 2 with the Marines who kept a nearly 50 year old rifle rather than adopt the less accurate M1 Garand that the Army was using. They changed this approach once they started fighting in jungles, where firepower was of much greater import than single shot sharpshooting. That the debate was often focused on philosophy rather than purpose is not terribly surprising. As Antulio Echevarria argues here, American thinking on the use of force has tended to focus on capabilities rather than political/strategic outcomes. Debates about military power have tended to be disconnected from what we want to achieve from their use. Debates about Iraq still tend to avoid the basic question about the strategic gains and losses from continuing the war. American politicians have tended to be squeamish about this. In the past it was considered European and now the utilitarian viewpoint is associated with the Nixon-Kissinger approach to foreign policy, which doesn't have too many adherents. Rose targets his story for the interested generalist. There a fair amount of technical detail about the development of rifling technology, but his focus is more on the personalities and forces that drove the technology. This is appropriate, as technology rarely drives itself, but is instead the result of a mix of political, social and economic factors. Rose does well in presenting this story.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Pamela Pickering

    I should clarify something: this book was read but not by me. From the beginning it was clear that this book was going to be much more technical regarding the rifle than I had expected. I was looking for more of a cultural piece myself, and I knew from the first 20 pages or so that I wouldn't be able to get into it. Still, I felt since it was an Advanced Reader's Copy given by Goodreads I should follow up with the agreement to review it so I decided to lend it to a friend (who is a non-fiction n I should clarify something: this book was read but not by me. From the beginning it was clear that this book was going to be much more technical regarding the rifle than I had expected. I was looking for more of a cultural piece myself, and I knew from the first 20 pages or so that I wouldn't be able to get into it. Still, I felt since it was an Advanced Reader's Copy given by Goodreads I should follow up with the agreement to review it so I decided to lend it to a friend (who is a non-fiction nut!)and get his valued opinion. Wally is a retired USAF veteran and his review follows: "Although it is very much detailed and highly technical, this is a well written book from the standpoint of anyone who is a weapons familiar individual. I greatly enjoyed reading it as it is of great informative value. The one area that I found lacking and was a disappointment to me was that the author failed to mention and write about what many military persons will tell you was the best combat small arms weapon ever used -- the BAR (Browning Automatic Rifle). Except for that, this was a very good read. Thanks for letting me read this book." Based on Wally's review I believe both my brother (Army) and father (hunter) will greatly enjoy this book and will recommend it to them.

  16. 4 out of 5

    JP

    As much as this is a history of the development of military small arms, it's also a history of the debate between individual and collective, on the battle field, in government procurement, and in manufacturing research. I expected a sometimes dry history of the evolution of rifle technology. Instead, Alexander Rose provides an always interesting series of stories oriented around the men who developed and used the rifle. The advent of rifling and its use on the American frontier resulted in a new As much as this is a history of the development of military small arms, it's also a history of the debate between individual and collective, on the battle field, in government procurement, and in manufacturing research. I expected a sometimes dry history of the evolution of rifle technology. Instead, Alexander Rose provides an always interesting series of stories oriented around the men who developed and used the rifle. The advent of rifling and its use on the American frontier resulted in a new class of soldier. Unlike the traditional use of masses of soldiers with muskets firing together in formation, the riflemen were more effective at longer range through well-placed individual shots. Since then, the dominant strategy has shifted back and forth between accuracy and awe. Proponents of the former recognize the importance of individualism, character, and economy. Proponents of the latter cite the effectiveness and sometimes necessity of overwhelming firepower, but many hold an underlying belief that it is the job of most men to be led rather than to think.[return][return]American Rifle is well-written, informative, and insightful. It's a thoughtful analysis of much more than the Kentucky rifle or the M1 Carbine.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    Easy to read with a wealth of background information. Unfortunately, I caught a few problems that make me reluctant to recommend this book to others. A few technical mistakes: - The Mauser Commission Rifle was not a Mauser system rifle. - Clips and magazines aren't the same thing. - Grant was not up for reelection in 1876 (that was the end of his second term) as implied in the chapter "The Army of Marksmen and the Soldier's Faith". Given the amount of research the author did, I would expect him to ge Easy to read with a wealth of background information. Unfortunately, I caught a few problems that make me reluctant to recommend this book to others. A few technical mistakes: - The Mauser Commission Rifle was not a Mauser system rifle. - Clips and magazines aren't the same thing. - Grant was not up for reelection in 1876 (that was the end of his second term) as implied in the chapter "The Army of Marksmen and the Soldier's Faith". Given the amount of research the author did, I would expect him to get these things right. The author cites on Bellesiles's Arming America in passages covering times leading up to the Civil War and the Civil War. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arming_A... for some criticisms of Bellesiles's work). I also wouldn't call the AK-47 a junk weapon. The author gets some things right. His description of tactics used by the Americans in the American Revolution is correct. He paints a much more realistic view of Sgt. York, unlike hagiographies one sometimes sees.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Sammis

    I've been having bad luck with some of the review copies I've been sent recently. First there were the scrambled pages in Emily Waits for Her Family and now there is the toner bomb in the first third of American Rifle. Both were books I had been looking forward to reading. Unfortunately in the early history of the rifle, about one page in every eight was nearly completely black. Despite the black pages, I enjoyed Alexander Rose's history of America as seen through the development of the rifle. Ro I've been having bad luck with some of the review copies I've been sent recently. First there were the scrambled pages in Emily Waits for Her Family and now there is the toner bomb in the first third of American Rifle. Both were books I had been looking forward to reading. Unfortunately in the early history of the rifle, about one page in every eight was nearly completely black. Despite the black pages, I enjoyed Alexander Rose's history of America as seen through the development of the rifle. Rose approaches the rifle with detachment, focusing on the technology and the cultural shifts that caused and were caused by the rifle. The book goes beyond just listing facts and dates and connects the dots in ways that made me rethink my country's history.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Greg

    This was an interesting history of the American Rifle from before frontier days up to and including possible future developments, as well as, the various failed attempts past and present. A lot of information was covered regarding the selection of rifles for the Army by the Ordnance Department including the personalities and agendas of the Ordnance staff and leadership. This was a bit boring but I suppose an important part of the American Rifle's development and adoption of various models and man This was an interesting history of the American Rifle from before frontier days up to and including possible future developments, as well as, the various failed attempts past and present. A lot of information was covered regarding the selection of rifles for the Army by the Ordnance Department including the personalities and agendas of the Ordnance staff and leadership. This was a bit boring but I suppose an important part of the American Rifle's development and adoption of various models and manufacturers. Otherwise, I learned a lot and enjoyed the book. There were several very good illustrations as well.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Dwain

    A very interesting book if you are interested enough in guns that you want to read about the politics behind military rifle development, the reasons that Armalite sold the rights to the M-16/M-4 family of rifles, and how firearms technology has developed from matchlocks to assault rifles. It wasn't a very quick read, but each chapter I found interesting. The book covers, as already hinted at, politics, technology, culture, military campaigns, and personalities...all revolving around the role tha A very interesting book if you are interested enough in guns that you want to read about the politics behind military rifle development, the reasons that Armalite sold the rights to the M-16/M-4 family of rifles, and how firearms technology has developed from matchlocks to assault rifles. It wasn't a very quick read, but each chapter I found interesting. The book covers, as already hinted at, politics, technology, culture, military campaigns, and personalities...all revolving around the role that rifles have played in America. I found it interesting. Gun nuts probably would agree, but other than that I suspect only the most dedicated historians would slog through it.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Converse

    Who knew that picking a military firearm could be considered to have ramifications for American manliness, identity, morality, as well as mere technical/tactical ones, and be attended by so much in-fighting? Discusses the role of the Springfield armoury in rifle design for over a century, including the Garand rife of World War II. Also discusses how the M-16 became the first product designed elsewhere in a long time to become the primary infantry fire arm. Also discusses the controvery over the m Who knew that picking a military firearm could be considered to have ramifications for American manliness, identity, morality, as well as mere technical/tactical ones, and be attended by so much in-fighting? Discusses the role of the Springfield armoury in rifle design for over a century, including the Garand rife of World War II. Also discusses how the M-16 became the first product designed elsewhere in a long time to become the primary infantry fire arm. Also discusses the controvery over the merits of the M-16 and the carbine M-4 version of the same, the latter of which is extensively used in Iraq.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Lp

    It took me quite a while to read this book, but I finally finished it, whew! Sooo much information, especially considering the fact that I had such little prior knowledge on the subject. The book was well researched & written and was quite fascinating. I have gained much respect for the power this little machine wields, esp when it is used for good, such as acquiring food and fighting the evil & the dark forces that be. It's too bad that so many nut jobs love them too, cause otherwise they are p It took me quite a while to read this book, but I finally finished it, whew! Sooo much information, especially considering the fact that I had such little prior knowledge on the subject. The book was well researched & written and was quite fascinating. I have gained much respect for the power this little machine wields, esp when it is used for good, such as acquiring food and fighting the evil & the dark forces that be. It's too bad that so many nut jobs love them too, cause otherwise they are pretty cool (: I'm bein a lil bit facetious, btw :). Anyways, if you want to learn about rifles, and if you love history, esp American history, then I highly recommend this book. XO

  23. 5 out of 5

    Robert

    I think American Rifle should have been subtitled: A History Of The US Army Standard Infantry Rifle, or A History Of Springfield Armory. Great read, but I would like to read more about the history and impact of the rifle on the average American. I wanted more information about Winchester, Remington, John M. Browning, or John T. Thompson. Most of the book was spent explaining the history of the Ordnance Department. Don't get me wrong I enjoyed the book, I guess I just wish it was double the size I think American Rifle should have been subtitled: A History Of The US Army Standard Infantry Rifle, or A History Of Springfield Armory. Great read, but I would like to read more about the history and impact of the rifle on the average American. I wanted more information about Winchester, Remington, John M. Browning, or John T. Thompson. Most of the book was spent explaining the history of the Ordnance Department. Don't get me wrong I enjoyed the book, I guess I just wish it was double the size and gave a broader over view of the topic.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jason Brown (Toastx2)

    Simply put, this book was fairly amazing. Who would have thought you could read a whole book about Rifles and find it interesting from beginning to end. from the origin of the musket, the riffling process where its name comes from, to the historical movements influenced by its use.. this reads like a meandering plotline with no standardized characters. it was very rare when i felt like i was slogging through a text book, and more often like i was watching a well written history channel segment.. min Simply put, this book was fairly amazing. Who would have thought you could read a whole book about Rifles and find it interesting from beginning to end. from the origin of the musket, the riffling process where its name comes from, to the historical movements influenced by its use.. this reads like a meandering plotline with no standardized characters. it was very rare when i felt like i was slogging through a text book, and more often like i was watching a well written history channel segment.. minus the commercials of course :) -- xpost RawBlurb.com

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kirsten Jensen

    America is full of story. Alexander Rose has carved out careful research which he crafted with an engaging narrative voice and polished with vivid historical characters in order to show us some of the growth rings in the grain of that story. If you've any interest in guns, the American soldier, or why George Washington is even more brilliant than you knew before this would be a tale worth the reading. Moreover, I can now pretend to know a little bit about rifles (assuming, of course, that any li America is full of story. Alexander Rose has carved out careful research which he crafted with an engaging narrative voice and polished with vivid historical characters in order to show us some of the growth rings in the grain of that story. If you've any interest in guns, the American soldier, or why George Washington is even more brilliant than you knew before this would be a tale worth the reading. Moreover, I can now pretend to know a little bit about rifles (assuming, of course, that any listener is fairly ignorant of the subject matter), and knowing can be a beautiful thing in life.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Nikki

    If you have ever wasted a perfectly good weekend glued to a marathon of "Modern Marvels" on The History Channel this is a book for you. It has a good mix of interesting anecdotes and personal accounts laced with historical facts. Rose has obviously done extensive research and knows his stuff. You don't have to be a card-carrying member of the NRA to appreciate the importance of the American rifle and it's role in the shaping our fledgling country. If you have ever wasted a perfectly good weekend glued to a marathon of "Modern Marvels" on The History Channel this is a book for you. It has a good mix of interesting anecdotes and personal accounts laced with historical facts. Rose has obviously done extensive research and knows his stuff. You don't have to be a card-carrying member of the NRA to appreciate the importance of the American rifle and it's role in the shaping our fledgling country.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kym Robinson

    The biography and history of the 'American Rifle', it is a well written and decent look at the culture, history and politics involved in the standard long arm of the US military. I managed to read this book a little too quickly. I found the author had me wanting to know more in some chapters and perhaps a little less in other areas. I do highly suggest this book for any one interested in firearms, military history or US history in general. 84 % The biography and history of the 'American Rifle', it is a well written and decent look at the culture, history and politics involved in the standard long arm of the US military. I managed to read this book a little too quickly. I found the author had me wanting to know more in some chapters and perhaps a little less in other areas. I do highly suggest this book for any one interested in firearms, military history or US history in general. 84 %

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    I won a copy of this book as a First Reads book. I'm very happy with that win! Alexander Rose made the subject so interesting - and gives such great detail! Reading this book enabled me to gain new insight into our history as a country that I had never even though to think about before. I'm looking forward to reading other books by Rose. :) I won a copy of this book as a First Reads book. I'm very happy with that win! Alexander Rose made the subject so interesting - and gives such great detail! Reading this book enabled me to gain new insight into our history as a country that I had never even though to think about before. I'm looking forward to reading other books by Rose. :)

  29. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    I totally enjoyed reading about 3/4 of this book but then, like so many nonfiction it became redundant - actually the history subject itself seems to be repetitive. However, it is well worth starting and then doing the quick read at the end. Particularly for those who enjoy the history of technology or military history

  30. 4 out of 5

    CJ

    'American Rifle' was like reading a text version of the History Channel. It was interesting to learn about the evolution of the rifle in America and about the colorful characters that championed the rifle's use and development. Although the book is certainly lengthy and some chapters were better executed than others, it was an enjoyable volume overall. Certainly worth a read! 'American Rifle' was like reading a text version of the History Channel. It was interesting to learn about the evolution of the rifle in America and about the colorful characters that championed the rifle's use and development. Although the book is certainly lengthy and some chapters were better executed than others, it was an enjoyable volume overall. Certainly worth a read!

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