Tommy: The Gun That Changed America

Karen Blumenthal. Roaring Brook, $19.99 (240p) ISBN 978-1-62672-084-8
The Thompson rapid-firing submachine gun is the crux of Blumenthal’s accessible social history, which encompasses military weaponry, gangster warfare, and gun-control legislation. A chronicle of the development and manufacturing of the Tommy gun, designed by army ordnance officer John T. Thompson for use in WWI trench warfare, leads into an engrossing and grisly account of the gun’s use as “the trademark weapon of Chicago’s bad boys” (rival bootlegging gangs) during Prohibition. In one of several ironic twists, Blumenthal (Steve Jobs: The Man Who Thought Different) notes that, unlike pistols or revolvers, the larger and more lethal Tommy gun was not covered by concealed-weapons laws, and could be easily purchased at sporting goods and hardware stores. The pace further accelerates with the appearance of brazen Depression-era armed bandits, most notably John Dillinger, whose capture became J. Edgar Hoover’s top priority. Mug shots and graphic crime scene photos highlight the lawlessness of the period, while an epilogue discussing comparatively recent shootings and legislation emphasizes that the questions raised by the appearance of weapons like the Tommy gun are far from resolved. Ages 12–up. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/20/2015
Release date: 06/30/2015
Genre: Children's
Paperback - 240 pages - 978-1-250-11540-9
Ebook - 240 pages - 978-1-62672-085-5
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