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Armed America: The Story of How and Why Guns Became as American as Apple Pie

Clayton E. Cramer, Author
Clayton E. Cramer, Author . Nelson Current $26.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-59555-069-9
Paperback - 300 pages - 978-1-59555-284-6
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Cramer, an adjunct lecturer in history at Boise State University and George Fox University, took on Michael Bellesiles even before his book Arming America was discredited, and now goes further to prove wrong Bellesiles's claim that guns were uncommon in early America. Cramer finds that guns "were the norm" in that period, people relied on guns to hunt, and gun ownership was key to the success of colonial militias. His most intriguing argument is that, as they became "tied to defending political rights," guns also became a symbol of citizenship. Cramer draws on many primary sources, from newspaper accounts to probate records, and compiles impressive data supporting his case. Still, he misses many opportunities for analysis and interpretation. For example, he finds that it was "not terribly unusual" for free women to own guns, but offers no nuanced discussion of what said gun ownership tells us about gender roles. His attack on academia—which, in Cramer's view, has been blinded by ideology and excludes political conservatives—distracts from his central theme and will only alienate pro–gun-control readers, leaving him with an equally narrow, if opposite, readership. (Feb. 6)

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