I'm no expert on guns but this is a fascinating work on the history of an important technology, from the Civil War through post-Vietnam. It's full of delicious detail and a great listen.
Michael Prichard is up there as one of the dryest, clubfooted narrators of all time. How is it that he keeps getting gigs? I can't begin to number the number of excellent books he has ruined with his congested voice and passionless monotone delivery. Shudder-inducing. Many books, like this one, deserve much better. Michael Jayston, for example, could make the telephone book impossible to stop listening to.
Cannot compare; never read the ink on paper version.
The personal anecdotes about the principle characters were nice and made the book's value far greater than if it were just a history of mechanical devices. Far far overshadowing the basic histories of the fully automatic weapons was Chivers' stark revelation of the corruption around the creation and implementation of the M-16 rifle and the fact that so many men died or suffered catastrophic life-changing injuries and PTSD because of the well-known defects that were buried under marketing hype and self-protective lies by manufacturers and military officers, alike. Chivers' revealing that most M-16's in the early years of the Vietnam extravaganza were so flawed and so unreliable that many of our troops demanded to use the heavier/older M-14 or they actually picked-up the fearsome weapon of the enemy (the AK-47.) OUR own troops were so terrified of their own weapons' flaws that they ended-up using the enemy's own weapons because they wouldn't jam and make them sitting ducks in firefights. If more people knew about this travesty and that so many of our young men died because of business decisions, many things about the way today's "wars" are conducted would be scrutinized and made subject to accountability than we see now.
His pace and use of foreign accents made his reading amplify the mere words the author wrote.
"Genius So Efficiently Applied to Causing Tragedy"
The author did excellent work in crafting a book that stands alone as a documentary to the development of weapons which have changed our world...for the worse, unfortunately. Yet, we need to know. Also I love the quote; "Traditions and bad ideas die more slowly than do men" because it is so true and so evident almost everywhere one looks.
can a gun possibly have a personality ?
can you write the biography of a weapon ?
it is a paradoxical and at times counterintuitive task
the story constantly moves between two worlds
the brass VERSUS the grunts
the AK 47 VERSUS the M 16
the politicians VERSUS the warriors
the soviets VERSUS the americans
political nation states VERSUS insurgent splinter groups
c.j. chivers life has given him the tools to see both sides
cornell / columbia / n.y. times pulitzer prize winner
military family / binghampton ny / marine officer x 7 years
conventional media paint a false technical view of war
laser guided missiles / supersonic jets / nuclear bombs
remote computer controlled drones / images on a screen
the truth is messier and meaner and more brutal
jungles and deserts / illiterate 110 lb. boy soldiers
civilian targets / third world tribal street fights
chivers first tells the story of the soviet AK 47
it began life in the hard lessons of the nazi invasion of russia
its' features are all borrowed from what worked in other guns
this is then contrasted with the american M 16
born of defense contractor greed and political ineptitude
it's "field tested" by G.I.s for the first four years of vietnam
chivers lays out a hard story full of hard truths
plenty of greed / ignorance / fear / betrayal / bravery
it adds up to a flinty reminder of how the world really is
63 years old-retired-hate winters-like growing potatoes-ride a Harley-built a couple of electric bicycles-vietnam vet-like audible
Well written and insightful. I don't believe the AK 47 was souly the work of the Russion Sargent who's name it bears, but the book is good reading anyway. By 1943 the German army had developed and were using a weapon that bears a suspicious (and down right striking resemblence) to the AK. I have fired this gun and it is everything advertised-simple-reliable-cheap to produce-readily available-and a killing machine.