Synopses & Reviews
Here is armed America — a land of machine-gun gatherings in the desert, lederhosen
ed German shooting societies, feral-hog hunts in Texas, and Hollywood gun armories. Whether they’re collecting antique weapons, practicing concealed carry, or firing an AR-15 or a Glock at their local range, many Americans love guns — which horrifies and fascinates many other Americans, and much of the rest of the world. This lively, sometimes raucous book explores from the inside the American love affair with firearms.
Dan Baum is both a lifelong gun guy and a Jewish Democrat who grew up in suburban New Jersey feeling like a “child of a bitter divorce with allegiance to both parents.” In Gun Guys he grabs his licensed concealed handgun and hits the road to meet some of the 40 percent of Americans who own guns. We meet Rick Ector, a black Detroit autoworker who buys a Smith & Wesson after suffering an armed robbery — then quits his job to preach the gospel of armed self-defense, especially to the resistant black community; Jeremy and Marcey Parker, a young, successful Kentucky couple whose idea of a romantic getaway is the Blue Ridge Mountain 3-Gun Championship in Bowling Green; and Aaron Zelman, head of Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership. Baum also travels to New Orleans, where he enters the world of a man disabled by a bullet, and to Chicago to interview a killer. Along the way, he takes us to gun shows, gun stores, and shooting ranges trying to figure out why so many of us love these things and why they inspire such passions.
In the tradition of Confederates in the Attic and Among the Thugs, Baum brings an entire world to life. Written equally for avid shooters and those who would never touch a firearm, Gun Guys is more than a travelogue. It gives a fresh assessment of the heated politics surrounding guns, one that will challenge and inform people on all sides of the issue. This may be the first book that goes beyond gun politics to illuminate the visceral appeal of guns — an original, perceptive, and surprisingly funny journey through American gun culture.
"Engrossing...a thoughtful corrective to the mutual ideological hysteria surrounding the issue of guns in America." Kirkus Reviews
"Baum's skill as a writer and journalist is revealed....[A] balanced accounting of both sides of America's gun issue, and while Baum doesn't have all the answers, his solution that both sides come together to promote gun safety is both admirable and prudent." Publishers Weekly
"The gun issue is about to find a new ambassador in Dan Baum....[Baum is] the perfect tour guide for a well-timed trek through gun culture in modern America...an insightful exploration that brings some much-needed humanity to gun lovers and gun haters...a thoughtful, well-reasoned antidote to the polarized hysteria that currently passes for a national gun debate. By the end of the book, Baum arrives at something that feels truly fresh: a middle ground on guns."
Lily Raff McCaulou, San Francisco Chronicle
"[S]mart and informative — an education for anyone the slightest bit curious about why gun owners are so passionate about their guns. Dan Baum's stories are alive, engaging, and earnest."
New York Journal of Books
"[A]n evenhanded and witty exposé of hardcore firearms culture and gun control controversies....[B]aum hones and polishes his investigation like he would an antique Winchester."
"Baum's perspective as a liberal who loves guns allows him to write with refreshing clarity about an issue that is usually addressed only from one side or the other of a deep cultural divide...briskly paced, personal, funny, and engrossing...readers interested in a fresh perspective on a divisive issues will be pleased."
Dan Baum is a gun fanatic. He is also Jewish Democrat who grew up in suburban New Jersey. In Gun Guys, he takes us on a guided tour of gun stores and gun shows, shooting ranges and festivals, contests and auctions, trying to figure out what draws so many of us to guns in the first place. Is it just part of being American? Introducing a wide cast of characters, Baum shows both sides of the gun culture in America, bringing an entire world vividly to life, and in doing so helping to find a middle ground in the gun debate, where actual conversation can take place.
About the Author
Dan Baum is the author of Nine Lives, Smoke and Mirrors, and Citizen Coors. He was a staff writer for The New Yorker and has written for Rolling Stone, Harper’s Magazine, The New York Times Magazine, and many other publications.