Book Reviews of Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture

Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture
Arming America The Origins of a National Gun Culture
Author: Michael Bellesiles
ISBN-13: 9780375701986
ISBN-10: 0375701982
Publication Date: 9/11/2001
Pages: 624
Edition: Vintage
Rating:
  • Currently 1.7/5 Stars.
 3

1.7 stars, based on 3 ratings
Publisher: Vintage
Book Type: Paperback
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

8 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture on + 4 more book reviews
Mostly fudged data. Researchers have discredited most of his work.
reviewed Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture on + 30 more book reviews
Another reviewer has asserted that 'much' of the data in this book has been called into question, & been shown to be false. This is incorrect. A small subset of the author's research has been shown to be in error, mostly his treatment of probate records. The reviewer also claims that the data was 'fudged'. The author has never been credibly accused of having falsified data. Both of these claims are oft-repeated canards propagated by gun-lobby interests & sympathizers.

But the important point is that the large majority of his research has in fact been corroborated, rather than the other way round. This in the face of (or perhaps because of) a level of scrutiny afforded very few works of history ever published. The author has responded to this with as thorough an emendation as I have ever seen, something very rare in academia or in publishing. This can be found in the second edition of this book, which is to be recommended above this edition (listed at PBS at http://www.paperbackswap.com/book/details/9781932360073-Arming+America+The+Origins+of+a+National+Gun+Culture). For a synopsis of the author's detailed response, see http://www.softskull.com/files/weighed_even_balance.pdf .

It is lamentable that the author was so sloppy with a portion of his data, as is his inept handling of the subsequent inevitable controversy (striking as the work does, although more obliquely than most gun advocates seem to imagine, at America's self-image).

The author's thesis is cogent & thought-provoking, & well worth engaging with. Don't be steered away by the controversy.

HollyL: The prize was revoked--& Bellesiles blackballed--because of a smear campaign & the organization's need to save face in the wake of it. Levels of error comparable to that found in the first edition of this book are far from uncommon even at the top levels of research. It is only when the thesis flies in the face of a powerful culture (gun culture & lobby) that the errors are made too much of. In point of fact, few books have been as scrutinized as this one, & considering that the great majority of the data, & the most relevant data, in fact *survived* the scrutiny intact makes its case *stronger*.

And anyway, prizes are part of the apparatus of academic careerism, not components of a reasoned argument. The thesis of this book was never made more reasonable or justified by the prize, nor has it been made less so by its revocation. It may be damning in the court of public opinion, but it has nothing at all to do with the validity of the argument.
reviewed Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture on
If the information was not discredited why did Columbia University revoke the Bancroft prize that had been awarded to the book?
reviewed Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture on + 4 more book reviews
A lot of false and misused data. Do not use this book for real information. Research has proven much of this book to be untrue statements and much of the author's data has been discredited.
reviewed Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture on + 82 more book reviews
Henry,
The author claims to use documents that were destroyed in the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. That means he didn't just misread the documents, he didn't even try to find the documents to research because he knew his thesis wasn't backed up.

When his friend offered to review the data to help him clear his name, he didn't return their calls because he knew the data didn't exist.
reviewed Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture on + 30 more book reviews
Another reviewer has asserted that 'much' of the data in this book has been called into question, & been shown to be false. This is incorrect. A small subset of the author's research has been shown to be in error, mostly his treatment of probate records. The reviewer also claims that the data was 'fudged'. The author has never been credibly accused of having falsified data. Both of these claims are oft-repeated canards propagated by gun-lobby interests & sympathizers.

But the important point is that the large majority of his research has in fact been corroborated, rather than the other way round. This in the face of (or perhaps because of) a level of scrutiny afforded very few works of history ever published. The author has responded to this with as thorough an emendation as I have ever seen, something very rare in academia or in publishing. This can be found in the second edition of this book, which is to be recommended above this edition (listed at PBS at http://www.paperbackswap.com/book/details/9781932360073-Arming+America+The+Origins+of+a+National+Gun+Culture). For a synopsis of the author's detailed response, see http://www.softskull.com/files/weighed_even_balance.pdf .

It is lamentable that the author was so sloppy with a portion of his data, as is his inept handling of the subsequent inevitable controversy (striking as the work does, although more obliquely than most gun advocates seem to imagine, at America's self-image).

The author's thesis is cogent & thought-provoking, & well worth engaging with. Don't be steered away by the controversy.
reviewed Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture on + 82 more book reviews
The author claims to use documents that were destroyed in the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. That means he didn't just misread the documents, he didn't even try to find the documents to research because he knew his thesis wasn't backed up.

When his friend offered to review the data to help him clear his name, he didn't return their calls because he knew the data didn't exist.
reviewed Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture on + 82 more book reviews
The author claims to use documents that were destroyed in the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. That means he didn't just misread the documents, he didn't even try to find the documents to research because he knew his thesis wasn't backed up.

When his friend offered to review the data to help him clear his name, he didn't return their calls because he knew the data didn't exist.