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The Gun That Changed the Worldby Mikhail Kalashnikov
Synopses & Reviews
'I have often been tempted to relate these episodes from my youth, and each time I abandoned the idea. Could I safely reveal this part of my existence when I was an exile in my own country? My destiny might have been quite different, since people could have decided that the author of these revelations had no right to work in such a secret field as the weapons industry.'Mikhail KalashnikovThe Russian word that is uttered most often, worldwide, isn't Lenin, Gulag or Perestroika, but Kalashnikov. The reason for this is simple: there are 80 million Kalashnikovs in circulation throughout the world. Kalashnikov himself, who was born in 1919 and invented the famous assault rifle the AK-47, here tells his life story for the first time: his deportation to Siberia with his family while still a child; his time as a soldier in a tank regiment; his invention of the world's most famous weapon and his turbulent life under Stalin, Khrushchev, Brezhnev, Gorbachev and Yeltsin.In this brilliant book, Elena Joly has recorded Kalashnikov's story and has taken pains to respect his engaging and colloquial style. In doing so she has put together a fascinating portrait of a man of ingenuity and vitality in the context of the often frightening and terribly unforgiving Russia of the twentieth century.
Book News Annotation:
This is an "as-told-to" autobiography of Mikhail Kalashnikov, the Soviet weapons designer who invented arguably the most successful assault rifle in the world, the AK-47. Kalashnikov's narrative is straightforward and remarkably unreflective, describing his youthful escape from Siberia, where his family had been exiled while he was still a child; his military experiences as a soldier in a tank regiment; his invention of the AK-47; and his later life living through the turbulent decline and dissolution of the Soviet Union in a rather matter of fact manner. Distributed in the US by Blackwell Publishing. First published in France as Ma Vie en Rafales (2003). Annotation ©2007 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
The Russian word that is most frequently spoken throughout the world isn't Lenin, gulag or perestroika, it’s ‘Kalashnikov’. The reason for this is simple: there are 80 million Kalashnikovs in circulation on five continents. Once invented, the AK-47 assault rifle became the most widely used weapon in the world: from Vietnam to Palestine, from Cuba to Iraq, it was at the heart of conflicts and struggles everywhere. It is the only firearm that has ever been depicted on a national flag – that of Mozambique, where it symbolizes liberation.
Mikhail Kalashnikov himself, who was born in 1919, here tells his life story, with the help of Elena Joly, for the first time: his deportation to Siberia with his family while still a child; his time as a soldier in a tank regiment; his invention of the world’s most famous weapon and his turbulent life under Stalin, Khrushchev, Brezhnev, Gorbachev and Yeltsin. This is a remarkable portrait of a man of ingenuity and vitality in the context of the often frightening and terribly unforgiving Russia of the twentieth century.
About the Author
Elena Joly listened to Kalashnikov as he told his story and has been careful to respect his spoken style. Born in the Soviet Union, she now lives in Paris. She was in charge of the 'Soviet section' of the French publishing house Actes Sud, and has written La Troisième Mort de Staline (1988), a series of interviews with intellectuals of the Gorbachev period.
Table of Contents
Foreword to English edition: The history and workings of the AK-47.
Preface – The Terror and the Glory.
1. Treading a path of pain and sorrow.
Son of a kulak.
Farewell to Siberia.
2. ‘Arise, great country! Arise to mortal fight!’
The last but one.
My university – the hospital.
'You must help Sergeant Kalashnikov!'
3. The birth of the AK.
The 'Mikhim' dossier.
'Up until 2025, and even beyond….'
4. A unique weapon.
The standardization of firearms.
One more step.
5. 'He was a god, he might rise again.'
Daily life of a deputy in the Supreme Soviet.
Behind the walls of the Kremlin.
6. 'At home and abroad.'
Better late than never.
7. Odds and ends.
Select bibliography and filmography.
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