Mr. Gatling's Terrible Marvel: The Gun That Changed Everything and the Misunderstood Genius Who Invented It
In The Middle of the Civil War, inventor and businessman Richard Gatling created the world's first working machine gun. He naively hoped that the overwhelming effectiveness of a multiple-firing weapon would save lives by reducing the number of soldiers needed to fight. (The scientists who would unleash America's atomic arsenal less than a century later would see things muc...more
This is not a technical history about the Gatling gun. It's more of an extended essay about America in the 19th century and how inventors and creativity flourished during this century. The author uses Gatling's invention as a prime example of how America was turning out inventions that literally changed the way Humans do everything and how many of those inventors still effect us. In particular how war is waged which is probably one of Humanity's largest and mos ...more
The history of the machine-gun is an expansive enough topic for an entire book, particularly its use as a tool of colonial oppression and slow metamorphosis into a weapon of "civilized" combat. In the Victorian era, machine-guns were seen as dirty pool, which was okay when fighting those pesky natives in Africa, ...more
If you are looking for a biography of Richard Gatling, keep looking.
If you wonder how an inventor of farm equipment came to decide to work on a concept gun, you will get no explanation here.
One would think that an inventer of a "machine gun" would have spent hours shooting rifles and examining guns. There is no mention of Mr. Gatling ever touching a gun in this book prior to him coming out with his machine ...more
There are plenty of books about nineteenth century inventors and typically they have lots of social history that isn't directly connected with either the inventor or the invention - but here, in a 250 page book, the author doesn't get around to talking in much detail about either Gatling or his gun until 160 pages into it. The impression I had was that the author wasn't much interested in the nominal topics of the book.
In addition, presumably no one picks up a book like ...more
Unlike some reviewers, though, I wasn't too perturbed by this -- it's just the author's conversational style. The only thing that really bothered me about how the book was "organized" -- and I use the word loosely -- was the repetition -- she repeated notion ...more
Part of the problem is that I've followed ...more
The author sets out to prove that Gatling was a misunderstood inventor who invented his self named gun to stop the horro ...more
This book was a huge disappointment. Mr. Gatling sounds like an interesting man. Ms. Kellar has a few good salient points. But she beats them to death with flowery prose. Then 30 pages later she repeats the same ...more
I sometimes found the author's attempts to apologize for/explain the 19th century in contrast to the modern day a bit simple-minded. For example, she spends a lot of time talking about how guns "mean" something different today than they did then. I don't think she adequately takes into ac ...more
At times, the book is over-written... going for poetic sweep instead of telling the story.
She was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University and has taught at Princeton and Ohio State Universities, and the University of Notre Dame. She is a guest essayist on The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer on PBS and has been a contri ...more