AK-47 : The Story of a Gun
- Author: Michael Hodges
- Publisher: MACADAM/CAGE
- Published: April 2008
- ISBN-10: 1596922869
- ISBN-13: 9781596922860
- Format: Hardcover
- Copyright: 2008
- Subject: HISTORY / Military / Weapons
Military histories typically cover leaders, major wars, or important battles, seldom the development and history of the weapons used to wage war. These two brief books manage to fill that gap. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Keller (Chicago Tribune ) describes the immediate impact of the Gatling gun when its "breathless whirl" was first used in the Civil War. Created in 1861, it was the prototype for the modern machine gun. When the operator turned the gun's hand crank, the rotating barrels turned and fired rapidly. It used multiple barrels and needed little time to cool off. Keller's book is both a biography of Dr. Richard J. Gatling and an analysis of how his invention permanently changed the face of warfare. The gun produced carnage on a scale never seen before. It created a blueprint for future rapid-fire weapons and contributed to American military success for years to come.
If the Gatling gun was a transforming invention of the 19th century, the AK47 represents the kind of weapon that has transformed the 20th and 21st. It was created by Soviet Lt. Gen. Mikhail Timofeyevich Kalashnikov in 1947. Hodges discusses the widespread use of this portable rapid-fire weapon, explaining that the AK47 was "not even the first semi-automatic weapon on the battlefield" nor "the most sophisticated." Its simple design was its greatest advantage; with fewer parts that might break, it was a reliable, cost-effective weapon that was easy to learn how to use. Like Keller, Hodges is an established journalist; both authors have a reporter's skill in driving their stories. Students and academics may find these books useful as secondary sources, although neither has footnotes and Hodges's additionally lacks a bibliography. Both are easy and enjoyable reads and will be accessible to general history buffs. Recommended for public and some undergraduate libraries.—Antonio S. Thompson, Austin Peay State Univ., Clarksville, TN[Page 80]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
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