Military history

The Gun

The Gun

At a secret arms-design contest in Stalin's Soviet Union, army technicians submitted a stubby rifle with a curved magazine. Dubbed the AK-47, it was selected as the Eastern Bloc's standard arm. Scoffed at in the Pentagon as crude and unimpressive, it was in fact a breakthrough-a compact automatic that could be mastered by almost anyone, last decades in the field, and would rarely jam. Manufactured by tens of millions in planned economies, it became first an instrument of repression and then the most lethal weapon of the Cold War. Soon it was in the hands of terrorists.

Prologue: Stalin’s Tools of War

Part I. ORIGINS

Chapter 1: The Birth of Machine Guns

Chapter 2: Machine Guns in Action

Chapter 3: Hiram Maxim Changes War

Chapter 4: Slaughter Made Industrial: The Great War

Part II. INVENTION AND DISTRIBUTION

Chapter 5: Stalin’s Contest: The Invention of the AK-47

Chapter 6: The Breakout: The Mass Production, Distribution, and Early Use of the AK-47

Part III. AFTERMATH: THE CONSEQUENCES OF THE AK-47’S GLOBAL SPREAD

Chapter 7: The Accidental Rifle

Chapter 8: Everyman’s Gun

Epilogue: The Twenty-first Century’s Rifle

NOTES

THE IDEA OF CONCENTRATED FIREPOWER, MINIATURIZED AND MASS-PRODUCED