Monday, May 27, 2013

Chris Kyle, 'The American Gun'

If I've tweaked the electrons correctly, this book review should post early the morning of Memorial Day.  It seemed a fitting time to describe a book written by a true American hero.

Chris Kyle shouldn't need an introduction.  His tragic death while helping a troubled wounded veteran made the news all over the country, and even if the current administration couldn't acknowledge his bravery and sacrifice, we all knew him for what he was.  Chris Kyle, Navy Seal and one of the most lethal snipers in history, was a man who did his damnedest every day to support his country and his fellow soldiers.  He lived life in a large way, and with a purpose few others manage to harness as he did.

When Chris was killed, he was already a best selling author.  On the day he died, he was nearly finished another book and his wife, Taya Kyle, took up the reins and finished the project.  It's that book I'll speak about here for a while.

American Gun: A History of the U.S. in Ten Firearms

As this is written, the book has not been released yet.  It's due to be shipping in just a few days, on June 4th.

As I've moments ago finished a preview copy of the book, I'd like to offer my thoughts as a lifelong shooter, and someone who's also had his nose shoved in one book or another for the last 40+ years.

Chris Kyle is not a writer.

He's a story teller, and that's a far rarer animal.  His language is familiar, friendly, warm, and brings his voice to life as if he was sitting right there.  Not a volume written according to some style book, but almost a personal visit with a man I'd be honored to share a drink with.

In 'American Gun' Chris brings enticing tidbits of American history to life as highlighted by some of the most historically important firearms our nation has known.  Beginning with the Kentucky long rifle, and the role it played in our nations bloody beginnings, he follows a string of weapons through our collective timeline, giving each a place in history by relating a story or two.  Often, Chris drifts off a little, as good story tellers do, and highlights a connection to his own deeply experienced life as a soldier and shooter.

American Gun is not a book to turn to when researching the various details of a particular firearm.  It's more a fireside talk, deep into some clear skied night, with a man who knows his gun history and enjoys sharing it.   As I read the book, my mind was constantly going back to my own collection, attaching new history to the pieces there as Chris opened up another story in each ones past.   Could my Springfield have seen action as Kyle described?  Is it possible the Colt I've had so long may have a history like this?   After hearing Chris tell his stories, my collection has garnered just a little more respect in my mind.

I wish I had know Chris Kyle personally, but that wasn't to be.  That said..... after reading his book, finished by his wife and partner Taya Kyle, I feel like his spirit might just show up one night near the fire, bringing his stories with it.


Anonymous said...

Enjoyed the first book and looking forward to this one. I think his wife's name is actually Taya.

Carteach said...

Corrected, thank you.