When former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle was killed, he was completing his much-anticipated second book, American Gun: A History of the U.S. in Ten Firearms. The book was nearly complete at the time of his death, and his co-author was able to complete the final edits. I am extremely glad the book was completed and released, as it is a very enjoyable read that I think most gun owners will truly enjoy.
American Gun is more a history book than it is a typical gun text. Firearms play an important role, but they are merely the common thread throughout the book tying together many parts of United States history.
The book reads as a good campfire story would be told. Each chapter focuses on a single firearm, and how men and women using that gun charted a course for the country. Some of the stories are of brave soldiers on the battlefield, while others follow notorious outlaws. But all of the chapters tell the history in an way to draw the reader into the story, much like a practiced storyteller passing on a family’s history.
In American Gun, Kyle describes the importance of ten different guns starting with the American Long Rifle and ending with the M-16. Also included in the book are the stories of the 1903 Springfield, Thompson SMG, M1 Garand, Spencer Repeater and more.
Probably my favorite chapter is the first one. Kyle details how a sergeant and his skilled use of the American Long Rifle helped win a battle in the Revolutionary War. But that is not the end of the story; rather it is just the beginning. Before the chapter is done, the reader meets Samuel Houston in another Revolutionary War battle, and how that battle and rifle helped his son, Sam Houston, win independence for Texas using the same rifle and devious tactics.
Kyle is perhaps best known as a SEAL team sniper, credited with saving the lives of many US soldiers, marines and sailors. People got a close look at Kyle in his first book, the New York Times bestselling American Sniper. An autobiography, American Sniper detailed Kyle’s military service including the more than 150 confirmed kills.
Tara Kyle, Chris Kyle’s wife, provides context for the book’s completion and for her husband’s perspective on both guns and their role in society. She provides greater insight into the author than he would have likely provided himself, so if you’ve ever wondered who America’s sniper was, you will find her contribution fascinating.
One final note: When Kyle died, there was concern about where the proceeds from American Gun would land. For American Sniper, Kyle donated the profits from that book to charity, and there was some question whether his family would be provided an income from American Gun. The publisher assured me that the profits of American Gun would go to Kyle’s family.
However, Jesse Ventura, a former SEAL, wrestler and governor, is attempting to sue Kyle’s family over claims Kyle fabricated a story in which Kyle supposedly punched Ventura in a bar fight. I don’t care if Ventura was hurt or defamed by Chris Kyle’s words. Suing a dead man’s widow and children over mere words doesn’t seem to be a terribly honorable thing to do.
Bottom line: Buy American Gun. It is a great read, and the money will go to support the family of a fallen American war hero.