Ken Alder is the Milton H. Wilson Professor of the Humanities and professor of history at Northwestern University. He is the author of The Measure of All Things: The Seven-Year Odyssey and Hidden Error that Transformed the World and The Lie Detectors: The History of an American Obsession.
At the time of his tragic death in February 2013, former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, the top sniper in U.S. military history, was finishing one of the most exciting missions of his life: a remarkable book that retold American history through the lens of a hand-selected list of firearms. Kyle masterfully shows how guns have played a fascinating, indispensable, and often underappreciated role in our national story.
"Perhaps more than any other nation in the world," Kyle writes, "the history of the United States has been shaped by the gun. Firearms secured the first Europeans' hold on the continent, opened the frontier, helped win our independence, settled the West, kept law and order, and defeated tyranny across the world."
Drawing on his unmatched firearms knowledge and combat experience, Kyle carefully chose ten guns to help tell his story: the American long rifle, Spencer repeater, Colt .45 revolver, Winchester rifle, Springfield 1903 rifle, Thompson sub-machine gun, 1911 pistol, M1 Garand, .38 Special police revolver, and the M-16 rifle platform Kyle himself used as a SEAL. Through them, he revisits thrilling turning points in American history, including the single sniper shot that turned the tide of the Revolutionary War, the firearms designs that proved decisive at Gettysburg, the "gun that won the West," and the weapons that gave U.S. soldiers an edge in the world wars and beyond. This is also the story of how firearms innovation, creativity, and industrial genius has constantly pushed American history—and power—forward.
Filled with an unforgettable cast of characters, Chris Kyle's American Gun is a sweeping epic of bravery, adventure, invention, and sacrifice.