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Big Guns

3.55  ·  Rating details ·  273 ratings  ·  71 reviews
From Steve Israel, the congressman-turned-novelist who writes “in the full-tilt style of Carl Hiaasen” (The Washington Post), comes a comic tale about the mighty firearm industry, a small Long Island town, and Washington politics.

When Chicago’s Mayor Michael Rodriguez starts a national campaign to ban handguns from America’s cities, towns, and villages, Otis Cogsworth, the
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published April 17th 2018 by Simon Schuster
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3.55  · 
Rating details
 ·  273 ratings  ·  71 reviews

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aPriL does feral sometimes
‘Big Guns’ is a satire of serious politics.

National politicians, organizations and celebrities struggle over building support for a Congressional bill requiring every American to buy a gun in this fun book about political process. The bill is sponsored by a variety of politicians, wealthy businessmen and celebrities who do not exactly fully support each other. Wading into the scrum are various organizations, such as the NRA (National Rifle Association), and the usual paranoid gun owner groups an
Ron Charles
Mar 20, 2018 rated it it was ok
Steve Israel, a former U.S. Congressman from New York, takes aim at the NRA with a goofy satire called "Big Guns." This is Israel’s second novel, a follow-up to “The Global War on Morris,” his comedy about Washington’s bungling response to terrorism. Clearly, 16 years in the House provided him with a graduate education on the cozy relationship between America’s business leaders and our political representatives.

As “Big Guns” opens, the mayor of Chicago demands a national ban on handguns, which t
Thomas Todd
3.5/5. This fictitious take on gun control could almost be read as non-fiction with humor as it mirrors a lot of current headlines we've experienced over the last few years. Characters range from city park employees & city council members all the way up the chain of importance to The POTUS. The Chicago mayor introduces his war on violent crime when he and other liberal minded Mayors throughout the US introduce legislation to ban all guns nationwide. Century old arms manufacturer knows this w ...more
Michael Martz
May 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
'Big Guns' is yet another winning political satire from a guy who sounds way too smart to have spent 16 years in Congress, Steve Israel. This time the topic is gun control, or almost its exact opposite in that an idea hatched by a gun manufacturer to pass a law requiring universal gun ownership gets traction and suddenly becomes a cause celebre by the right. It's played out against a small town mayoral election in the Hamptons, which pits a female longtime lefty mayor against an aging movie star ...more
May 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Slightly amusing satire of the gun lobby, D.C., & local politics. Oddly frequent boner jokes.
May 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Steven Israel was a NY Congressman for 16 years. He’s now turned to writing political/social satire, and his 2018 novel Big Guns is a great experience—funny and a bit warped like Carl Hiassen, charming in its take on humanity, over-the-top in its assessment of both real and fake news.

Chicago has installed Shotwatch Technology, a system that tracks pockets of gunfire throughout the city. Suddenly, the screens light up as Chicagoans descend into mass violence. Chicago becomes the poster city for
Randal White
Nov 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley, fiction
Required Reading! Talk about a timely book! One city bans guns, and in reaction, a congressman introduces a bill to require all citizens to own a gun.  Israel covers the absolute insanity of both sides of the gun control debate, the incredible dysfunction of our government, and the people caught in the middle.  All while delivering a highly readable and enjoyable story.  The novel moves along rapidly, sucking you in the whole way. I can't wait for the next installment, but I understand that the ...more
Alex Yard
Jun 24, 2018 rated it it was ok
My full formal review appears on; I received an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

This book isn't altogether necessary and isn't all that funny or insightful. The narrator talks way too much and provides a disproportionate amount of the attempts at zingers. The subject matter is something Stephen Colbert has already done five times better.
Margo Tanenbaum
May 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult, humor
Clever satire of Congress and the gun lobby. Very funny but also food for thought.
Steve DuBois
Jul 21, 2018 rated it it was ok
Steve Israel is an excellent writer. I don't mean he's an excellent writer for a celebrity-turned-novelist, I mean he's excellent by professional standards. He's smooth, smart, clever, and occasionally profound. He also leverages the knowledge gained through his background in Congress in effective ways--the single most interesting aspect of this book is the terrifyingly plausible way he shows a piece of legislation that virtually every policymaker despises nonetheless advancing through both cham ...more
Jun 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
BIG GUNS: An Amazingly Salient Subject Explored by an Insider

Gun violence is not fictional but a former congressman explores it in a novel.
I voluntarily reviewed an advance readers copy of this book. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.


The “Congressman-Turned-Author” label was both intriguing and off-putting. Israel was the congressional representative for New York’s third district, covering B
Apr 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Steve Israel spent 16 years in the US House of Representatives, plus being the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. To say that he is acquainted with the political process would be a gross understatement. To say that he unfamiliar with the lures of the lobby process would be equally ridiculous. To say that he has created a story promulgating the best defense is a strong, obscure offense would be to simplify the storyline of his new book, Big Guns, A Novel. Israel has chosen t ...more
Steve  A
May 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: politically aware but with sense of humor
First, I need to state that Steve Israel is the former congressman who represented my district. Additionally, I have had the pleasure of meeting with him a few times, including over a group lunch or two. I was always impressed with his forthright statements and could hear the frustration regarding members of Congress who no longer could effective work across the aisle. So, when he decided to leave politics (for now) to continue to write, it wasn’t too surprising.

I enjoyed Big Guns. Living on Lon
Oct 23, 2018 rated it liked it
Big Guns is a political satire recounting the events and resulting political activity that follow up a massive wave of gun violence in Chicago. All the players in our American political establishment are large and in charge, playing their roles to perfection. The author spent 16 years as a member of congress representing New York, and uses his vast insider experience and knowledge to paint a picture of how things really work in American politics. This story is a satire, and if i had read it 2-3 ...more
H R Koelling
Jul 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Very funny book! Well written and thoroughly enjoyable. If you're not inclined to acknowledging the absurdity of modern American politics this novel may not tickle your funny bone as much as it tickled mine.

A few typos and grammatical errors escaped the Simon & Schuster proofreaders. But sometimes the author wrote some real headscratchers that I just couldn't make sense of. Here's one that kind of missed the mark, although the intention was eventually understood:

"It would be chewed on, dige
Mar 31, 2018 rated it liked it
With the satirical novel, Big Guns, former Congressman Steve Israel attempts to enter Christopher Buckley territory. When the Chicago Mayor wants to ban all guns, a sympathetic mayor of Asabogue, a Long Island summer town, chooses to join him. Unfortunately this little town is also the residence of a major gun manufacturer who is one of the NRA’s biggest proponents. Further complicating the story is a publicist with unique ties to the mayor and the gun maker. No one is going to take up a non-gun ...more
Mar 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Big Guns by Steve Israel is big fun. Mr. Israel writes what he knows. Politics, money, deals, back-room brawls and promises, most of which are bought and paid for with taxpayer money.
Here we find a novice southern congressman in search of popularity and political currency. What better way than to legislate your way to fame by requiring that all Americans be armed? As you wend your way through this extremely funny and topical satire you cry as much as you laugh. Because Big Guns is dead on perfe
Christa Van
Aug 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Chicago is becoming such a shooting gallery, Mayor Michael Rodriguez starts a coalition of mayors to ban guns. In retaliation, Otis Cogsworth, the CEO of the larges gun manufacturer in the US, decides to try to find a legislator who will sponsor a bill requiring ALL Americans to own a gun. Likening it to Obamacare where all Americans were told to have health insurance, this is safety insurance. Now how do we get this on the field in Washington? Get your best lobbyist to carry the water. Sunny Mc ...more
Mary Williams
In this book, former Member of Congress Steve Israel writes a satirical political novel that pits pro-gun and anti-gun forces in a way that is both hilarious and terrifying. He also manages to interweave lessons in "how a bill (really) becomes a law" in a way that totally shatters everything you were taught in high school civics (assuming such a course still exists somewhere in America). I'm torn between urging everyone to read it and urging everyone not to read it. It certainly conveys, through ...more
Ailith Twinning
Apr 12, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019
This books is weird.

I thought it was going to be a wing-nut morality play for a minute I thought it was going to go Sinclair Lewis after the first chapter and, nope, not that either. . . it's, rather, something like a "so bad it's funny" political drama -- except it's not very funny. I never actually laughed.

It does have at least one great observation tho: With absolutely nobody actually wanting to do a thing, the system can make it happen. And it'll usually be about making some rich shit richer
Jan 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Politics are divisive and "tribal" right now - to use a buzz word. It is hard to get away from partisan rhetoric. This book is not concerned with sides - it focuses more on lobby industry and the grease it adds to the machinery of Washington DC, and on an outlandish story about a bill to make law that each American must own a gun.

In short - I enjoyed this book. I felt it could have been more biting, but I take it that was not the author's goal. And I am jaded regarding national politics, so ther
May 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Closer to 2.5 out of 5 stars. I didn't enjoy this as much as Steve Israel's first book "The Global War on Morris" which I remember providing at least a few laugh out loud moments. "Big Guns" is amusing, but it feels too uncomfortably close to the absurdity of the current political situation to provide any joyful laughs. Any laughs are kind of at the expense of myself and you because we're actually living this!
Aug 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
I wasn't sure what to expect from a book written by a former Congressman. That being said, I found this fictional novel to be very entertaining. The story comes down a group of characters dealing with a bill in Congress to make gun ownership mandatory (how timely!). There's more than a few parts that I wondered if they were based on real-life. It's a good satire of our current political climate and environment in Washington DC and small towns.
Kris Eggert
May 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A wild romp through the politically charged gun debate in our country. Really funny. Spot-on satire. Gun violence is no laughing matter but former Congressman Israel pokes fun at the extreme lengths 2nd Amendment/NRA gun nuts will go to protect their “freedoms.” Israel humorously depicts us liberals as well.

Enjoyed every delicious twist. Now back to the serious work of reducing gun violence. Thanks Congressman for the much needed break!
Jun 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult-humorous
There was much to make me laugh about the gun lobby run amok in this novel, (very funny acronyms), however, it's hard to laugh all that much when you realize the events in this book aren't out of the realm of possibility. The idea that every person be required by law to have a gun? There are plenty of politicians and fellow Americans that might think that's the way to go, as illogical and downright frightening as that is to me.

Apr 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Former Congressman Steve Israel takes on the gun issue in this satirical novel of American politics. Could he be any more prescient? Amusing laugh out loud moments are poignantly reflective of the current state of our country and our government. Should be required reading in all civics classes…except we really don’t have civics classes any more, do we?
Dec 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What a hoot! Who knew any member or ex member of Congress could be so funny. Political ridiculousness is at an all time high and this novel exacerbates the reality to the extreme. Want to relax and enjoy a semi-political thriller? This is the book for you. Hell, it was better than the newest Evonovitch by far.
Barbara Palmer
Jul 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

A hilarious romp through the world of politics and gun rights; not to mention the politics of a small town in rural New York where its mayor is in an election battle with $326 in her campaign war chest, against an aging movie star with limitless funds. Throw in a a bunch of Gun Rights nuts and political backstabbers, and you’ve got a story!
Joe Nizolak
Jul 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What the hell happened??

I really enjoyed this book until the end. What the hell happened? No wrap up of the mandatory gun ownership law. No clear resolution of the congressional election. Just out of the blue an epilogue. This is my first read of this author and if this is how he writes, it will be the last. I felt like I drove off a cliff in the darknesses.
John Adams
Oct 18, 2018 rated it it was ok
The premise is fun, and the story has its moments of amusement, but there are few actual laughs, in part because everything is far too plausible to be funny, and the text has some problems (the characters are underdeveloped, the plot hits some rough patches, and the homewrecking character's name changes over the course of the book).
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