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Extended Audio Sample The Gunning of America: Business and the Making of American Gun Culture, by Pamela Haag Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Pamela Haag Narrator: Bernadette Dunn Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Americans have always loved guns. This special bond was forged during the American Revolution and sanctified by the Second Amendment. It is because of this exceptional relationship that American civilians are more heavily armed than the citizens of any other nation. Or so we’re told.

In The Gunning of America, historian Pamela Haag overturns this conventional wisdom. American gun culture, she argues, developed not because the gun was exceptional but precisely because it was not: guns proliferated in America because throughout most of the nation’s history they were perceived as an unexceptional commodity, no different than buttons or typewriters.

Focusing on the history of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company, one of the most iconic arms manufacturers in America, Haag challenges many basic assumptions of how and when America became a gun culture. Under the leadership of Oliver Winchester and his heirs, the company used aggressive, sometimes ingenious, sales and marketing techniques to create new markets for their product. Guns have never “sold themselves”; rather, through advertising and innovative distribution campaigns, the gun industry did. Through the meticulous examination of gun-industry archives, Haag challenges the myth of a primal bond between Americans and their firearms.

Over the course of its 150-year history, the Winchester Repeating Arms Company sold over eight million guns. But Oliver Winchester—a shirtmaker in his previous career—had no apparent qualms about a life spent arming America. His daughter-in-law Sarah Winchester was a different story. Legend holds that Sarah was haunted by what she considered a vast blood fortune, and became convinced that the ghosts of rifle victims were haunting her.

In this provocative and deeply researched work of narrative history, Haag fundamentally revises the history of arms in America and, in so doing, explodes the clichés that have created and sustained our lethal gun culture.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “In this fascinating account, Haag traces the history of America’s gun-making business…Both convincingly argued and eminently readable, Haag’s book will intrigue readers on all sides of the gun control debate.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “Haag, an award-winning historian and essayist, has turned a wide and deep lens to America’s gun culture…The author has smoothly brought together a huge amount of archival research, wide historical sources, and contemporary perspectives as recent as 2015. This book should attract many readers.”


  • “A refreshingly unusual approach by an author admirably transparent about why she wrote the book and why she chose to avoid more traditional approaches.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “Pamela Haag has written a very smart book, deeply researched, original, provocative. The compelling narrative makes a powerful argument about the origins of America’s gun culture.”

    John Mack Faragher, Howard R. Lamar Professor of History, Yale University

  • “Firearms may be instruments of death. But they are also, as Pamela Haag reveals in her thought-provoking reassessment of guns in American life, economic commodities—so much so, that it can be difficult at times to discern where business culture ends and gun culture begins.”

    Karl Jacoby, author of Shadows at Dawn: A Borderlands Massacre and the Violence of History

  • “An exceptional, fresh perspective about the gun culture in America. Pamela Haag thoroughly examines the history of America’s long-term relationship with guns while offering an insightful, informative philosophy as to when and how this love affair began.”

    Wes Moore, founder and CEO of BridgeEdU

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