Chris Kyle wrote one of the best books I’ve read this year: American Sniper. The autobiography of America’s deadliest sniper since Carlos Hathcock was a fascinating read, an insider’s look at the men and methodology of America’s military adventures abroad. Unfortunately Chris was cut down in his prime. Before that last fateful trip to the gun range Kyle was nearing completion of a follow-up to his New York Times bestseller. Aided by his loving widow, Kyle’s friends completed American Gun: A History of the U.S. in Ten Firearms . . .
Everyone has their own list of the “top ten” guns that changed the United States, and right off the bat Chris admits that his list might not be the “definitive” list, but it’s his opinion on the matter. And for me, I agree with him. Mostly. I think I would replace the Spencer repeating rifle with a Browning m1919 machine gun or possibly the BAR, but at this point we’re nit picking. Chris hits the highlights of American firearms design, and the book reads like a who’s who in any well stocked gun safe.
While Chris dedicated his life to his time in the SEAL teams in the Navy, he was also an incredibly intelligent historian. That love of history is evident throughout the book, as he intertwines interesting stories about pivotal moments in American history and how the firearm he is describing helped move the country in a certain direction. For the Spencer repeating rifle he spins a tale about president Lincoln and how he might have tested the gun on his private firing range, combining snippets of verified historical data and a little storytelling magic to make things fit just right.
Chris writes in a conversational tone that feels comfortable, like he’s sitting across from you at the range and sharing some of his favorite stories. Anyone who has been cornered by an older retired gentleman at the range and subjected to an endless string of stories will recognize the enthusiasm, but thankfully you can pause Chris’ book when you need to take a quick break — not that you’ll want to very often. I wish those guys at the range had a pause button . . .
I read this book in one marathon sitting, flying from San Antonio back to New York City to see the family. And by the time I finished it, I knew exactly who would appreciate it the most. So come Sunday morning, I wrapped my copy up in some paper and presented it to my dad on Father’s day. And while he’s not as into firearms as I am, he has been loving the historical and technical aspects of the book as well. Well, at least he appears to, I haven’t been able to tear him away from the thing all morning to ask him.
Overall Rating: * * * * *