Synopses & Reviews
After a fifteen-year hiatus from the world of guns, journalist, sports shooter, and former soldier A.J. Somerset no longer fit in with other firearm enthusiasts. Theirs was a culture much different than the one he remembered: a culture more radical, less tolerant, and more immovable in its beliefs, as if [each] gun had come with a free, bonus ideological Family Pack [of political tenets], a ready-made identity.” To find the origins of this surprising shift, Somerset began mapping the cultural history of guns and gun ownership in North America. Arms: The Culture and Credo of Gun is the brilliant result.
How were firearms transformed from tools used by pioneers into symbols of modern manhood? Why did the NRAs focus shift from encouraging responsible gun use to lobbying against gun-safety laws? What is the relationship between gun ownership and racism in America? How have the film, television, and video game industries molded our perception of gun violence? When did the fear of gun seizures arise, and how has it been used to benefit arms manufacturers, lobbyists, and the far-right?
Few ideas divide communities as much as those involving firearms, and fewer authors are able to tackle the subject with the same authority, humor, and intelligence. Written from the unique perspective of a gun lover whos disgusted with what gun culture has become, Arms is destined to be one of the most talked-about books of the year.
Somerset (Combat Camera) tackles the murky polarized world of pistols rifles and shotguns from the unique angle of a former soldier and present hunter who thinks the current gun culture in North America is deeply troubled. By digging deep into history brushing off dusty lawsuits and pounding some pavement Somerset manages to avoid all of the clichés about North American gun politics and overturn everything that is held to be gospel. This is a brilliant piece of investigative journalism and surprisingly entertaining given the dismal subject matter. Somerset shrewdly crafts arguments against the most paranoid and fervent gun owners and their worldview compelling readers to follow his line of thinking. He traces the fascinating development of the knotty concept known as "gun culture" as it follows a twisted deluded path strewn with racism inflated egos and consumerism. Just as readers pat themselves on the back for their deep dive into North American attitudes toward gun violence Somerset alters the dialogue again suggesting that the solution to gun related problems including both gun violence and the related cultural divide is extremely complex. (Sept.) " Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
Praise for A.J. Somerset
"A one-time soldier, [Somerset] paints a convincing picture. . . . Yet he maintains a consistent sense of humorself-deprecating, gruff, curmudgeonly."Globe and Mail
"Rambling, tragic, and surprisingly funny."Quill and Quire
In Arms, novelist, sports shooter, and former army reservist A.J. Somerset instills new life in the gun book's third wave: neither reportage nor redneck tourism, Arms brings ballistics, legal history, and criminology to bear on the gun in fiction and film. A sharp-eyed, snarky, sure-handed, and sportive take on America's favorite weapon.
A.J. Somerset's nonfiction has appeared in numerous outdoor magazines, and his first novel, Combat Camera, won the Metcalf-Rooke Award.
Tender-yet-sharp, Arms is a hunter's loving epistle to the gunand a break-up letter to the gun culture he despises.
In Arms: The Culture and Credo of the Gun, novelist, journalist, sports shooter and former army reservist A.J. Somerset offers up one of the first looks at the gun as our pre-eminent cultural symbol of power and asks how it got that way. Touring through the various cultural battlefields of 19th- and 20th-century North America, including film, literature, music, videos games, and history, Somerset charts how the gun went from a tool in the hands of the earliest pioneers, used to defend the homestead and put food on the table, to a kind of totem, instantly capable of dividing communities. Sharp-eyed and acerbic, sure-handed and sportive, Arms presents an intellectual and cultural history that is certain to enrage, entertain and provoke debate, while showing that the gun cultures of Canada and the United States may not be so different after all. If guns, as the NRA often exclaims, do not kill people, Somerset shows how the idea of the gun has become something many believe worth dying for.
About the Author
A. J. Somerset has been a soldier, a technical writer, a programmer, and a freelance photographer. His non-fiction has appeared in numerous outdoor magazines in Canada and the United States, and his articles have been translated into French and Japanese. His first novel, Combat Camera
, won the Metcalf-Rooke Award.