John Taliaferro Thompson had a mission: to develop a lightweight, fast-firing weapon that would help Americans win on the battlefield. His Thompson submachine gun could deliver a hundred bullets in a matter of seconds but didn't find a market in the U.S.Read more...
John Taliaferro Thompson had a mission: to develop a lightweight, fast-firing weapon that would help Americans win on the battlefield. His Thompson submachine gun could deliver a hundred bullets in a matter of seconds but didn't find a market in the U.S. military. Instead, the Tommy gun became the weapon of choice for a generation of bootleggers and bank-robbing outlaws, and became a deadly American icon. Following a bloody decade and eighty years before the mass shootings of our own time Congress moved to take this weapon off the streets, igniting a national debate about gun control. Critically-acclaimed author Karen Blumenthal tells the fascinating story of this famous and deadly weapon of the lives it changed, the debate it sparked, and the unprecedented response it inspired."
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-04-20
- Reviewer: Staff
The Thompson rapid-firing submachine gun is the crux of Blumenthal’s accessible social history, which encompasses military weaponry, gangster warfare, and gun-control legislation. A chronicle of the development and manufacturing of the Tommy gun, designed by army ordnance officer John T. Thompson for use in WWI trench warfare, leads into an engrossing and grisly account of the gun’s use as “the trademark weapon of Chicago’s bad boys” (rival bootlegging gangs) during Prohibition. In one of several ironic twists, Blumenthal (Steve Jobs: The Man Who Thought Different) notes that, unlike pistols or revolvers, the larger and more lethal Tommy gun was not covered by concealed-weapons laws, and could be easily purchased at sporting goods and hardware stores. The pace further accelerates with the appearance of brazen Depression-era armed bandits, most notably John Dillinger, whose capture became J. Edgar Hoover’s top priority. Mug shots and graphic crime scene photos highlight the lawlessness of the period, while an epilogue discussing comparatively recent shootings and legislation emphasizes that the questions raised by the appearance of weapons like the Tommy gun are far from resolved. Ages 12–up. (June)■