Invented by Mikhail Kalashnikov in 1947, the AK47 assault rifle was adopted by the Soviet army, subsequently became ""the icon of Third World revolution,"" and now serves as ""the brand leader for international terrorism."" In a lively but chilling investigative history, British journalist Hodges examines the legacy of the ""most ubiquitous gun in the world."" With only eight moving parts, the semi-automatic is cheap, durable and simple to operate, providing 650 rounds-per-minute firepower with minimal training. Communist China supplied them to the North Vietnamese in 1963, where they were better suited for jungle fighting than the U.S. Army's M16; that conflict cemented the AK47's reputation as ""the 'anti-imperialist gun,'"" a symbol now evoked by Osama bin Laden, who never appears on-camera without one. Today it arms Palestinian resistance fighters and child soldiers in Sudan, as well as schoolyard shooters in the U.S. and Rambo at the movies -a lot to cover, but Hodges knows how to keep his thorough, eye-opening narrative moving, even as he hopscotches to nearly every conflict zone of the past 60 years. Though not for the feint of heart, this pop-history page-turner should appeal to anyone interested in military history or international conflict.