Guns in America

A Historical Reader

517 pages

April, 1999

ISBN: 9780814718797

$28

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Authors

Jan E. Dizard is Charles Hamilton Houston Professor of American Culture at Amherst College. He is the author of numerous books, most recently Going Wild: Hunting, Animal Rights, and the Contested Meaning of Nature.

All books by Jan E. Dizard

Robert Merrill Muth has worked with the U.S.D.A. Forest Service for many years and is currently Assistant Professor of Natural Resource Policy and Administration at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst

All books by Robert Muth

All books by Stephen P. Andrews

Firearms have long been at the core of our national narratives. From the Puritans' embrace of guns to beat back the "devilish Indian" to our guilty delight in the extralegal exploits of Dirty Harry, Americans have relied on the gun to right wrongs, both real and imagined.

The extent to which guns have been woven into our nation's mythology suggests that the current debate is only partly about guns themselves and equally about conflicting cultural values and competing national identities. Belying the gun debate are a host of related issues: contesting conceptions of community, the proper relationship between the individual and the state, and the locus of responsibility for maintaining order.

Guns in America documents and analyzes the history of firearms in America, exploring various aspects of gun manufacture, ownership, and use—and more importantly, the cultural and political implications which this history reveals.

Eschewing single-minded partisanship and emphasizing nuance and compromise, Jan E. Dizard and Robert Merrill Muth have assembled a diverse array of writings from all points on the ideological spectrum. The documents span the whole of American history, from Puritan sermons to contemporary NRA documents. The result is an indispensable panorama of the never-ending controversies over gun control, crime, hunting, and militias.

Reviews

  • "A lively and interesting overview of guns in American life; past, present, and future...Guns in America: A Reader will serve most promisingly as a long-awaited introduction to a complex and controversial issue."

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