Book Report: Paul Barrett’s Glock: The Rise of America’s Gun

Glock: The Rise of America’s Gun




Like C.J. Chivers’ The Gun, I first heard about this book on NPR’s “Fresh Air with Terri Gross,” though I also heard Barrett interviewed on Tom Gresham’s “Gun Talk” radio show.

Author Paul Barrett is Assistant Managing Editor of Bloomberg Business Week magazine and writes for New York Times Book Review. This book originated in a financial story Barrett wrote about Glock for Business Week, but it addresses much more than Glock’s finances. Indeed, it covers much more than Glock. This is the story of the rise of Glock as America’s gun, but it is also a lively and readable history of guns in America over the past 25 or so years.

The story begins with the infamous 1986 FBI shootout in Miami and how many in law enforcement came to believe that the revolvers being carried by FBI agents needed to be replaced with higher capacity handguns. This felt need was met in many cases by a new “plastic” (polymer) gun made by Gaston Glock. Interestingly, Glock had no experience as a gun manufacturer, and this surely allowed him to develop a more revolutionary design.

Again, this is more than a story of Glock itself, though that part is interesting enough to justify reading this book. We also read about assault weapons bans, school shootings, the dominance of Glock in American popular culture (movies, music), and competitive shooting. Barrett even travels to Florida for handgun training with Massad Ayoob (pictured below with Barrett) and Gail Pepin.


His practical conclusions are not likely to make either “gundamentalists” or banners happy. He recognizes that banning “assault rifles” is a waste of time in terms of creating a safer society, but also takes aim at “high capacity” magazines.

I’ve read the book twice already, and am tempted to read it a third.


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