This coffee-table styled book is rich with history, excitement, and chock-full of enough photos to please any historian or gun-lover.
What is it about the outlaw, the criminal, that we are intrigued by the weapons that they favored? Is it simply that they made a name for themselves, using weapons and so those weapons identify them or speak to their manner of thinking and behaving? Perhaps the Souter’s will follow this up with a “Guns of Lawmen” next.
We do romanticize the outlaw, and the longer-ago the outlaw lived, the more romantic the period in which s/he fought. I would have to admit that as the book progressed and we approached the period of Al Capone and his cronies, the outlaws lost their lustre to me. I was a little more sickened by the violence of these men, yet they were every bit as violent as those from the ‘old west.’
Gerry and Janet Souter, authors of this book, do a very nice job providing history of the weapons and many, many beautiful photographs of often the original weapons being described, or at least a similar weapon from the manufacturer. It is fascinating to thumb through the book and compare the early pistols to the tommy guns of the prohibition era. I couldn’t even begin to point out some of the weapons that were most interesting to me because regularly, as I turned each page, I came across something that was new and interesting to me. This book is as much an evolution of the handgun, from the 1800’s to the middle of the 20th century.
There are sidebars provided liberally throughout the book, with sidebars sometimes running two or three pages in themselves, such as “Primer, Powder, and Bullet: An Ammunition Evolution” or “The Gun that Never Was: Stuart Lake’s Gift to Western Fiction.” These are nice little side essays on a related topic, connecting in some way to the particular chapter in the book.
The writing here could so easily be dry and so factual that it is dull. Fortunately this is not the case. The Souters make the history come alive and bring vivid excitement to each page. All history books should be written with such enthusiasm!
I came to this book, interested in the historical aspect, and got so much more than I was expecting (pleasantly so). I did wonder if I would enjoy it as I’m not a fan of romanticizing criminals or criminal behavior, but I don’t think that happens here (there are a few photos of the outlaws herein after meeting a violent end).
I would definitely encourage anyone with an interest in history, weapons or weapon history, or even interested in reading about outlaws from days gone by, then I can’t recommend this highly enough. I’ve poured over my digital edition more than once, zooming in on some of the wonderful photos, and I’d really like to hold a hard copy in my hands because this is precisely the sort of book you want to hold in your hands and flip through just to look at the pictures after you’ve read it cover to cover.
Looking for a good book? Guns of Outlaws by Gerry and Janet Souter is book full of history and captures the thrilling events of a variety of outlaws with great excitement.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review.
* * * * * *
Guns of Outlaws: Weapons of the American Bad Man
authors: Gerry and Janet Souter
publisher: Zenith Press
hardcover, 272 pages