The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 102, July 1998 - April, 1999

Book Reviews

Nevertheless Sheppard has chosen excerpts of social life during the last years
of the Republic which the casual reader can enjoy. The researcher will find a
wealth of information on the history of this period and will be left with the hope
that other volumes will follow on the early years of statehood, the Civil War, and
Reconstruction.
San Antonio MADGE THORNALL ROBERTS
Firearms of the American West, 1803-1865. By Louis A Garavaglia and Charles G.
Worman. (Niwot: The University Press of Colorado, 1998. Pp. xiii+4o2.
Illustrations, preface, acknowledgments, notes, bibliography, index. ISBN
0-87081-483-4. $59.95, cloth).
Firearms of the American West, z866-z894. By Louis A. Garavaglia and Charles G.
Worman. (Niwot: The University Press of Colorado, 1997. Pp. x+413.
Illustrations, preface, acknowledgments, notes, bibliography, index. ISBN
0-87081-466-4. $59.95, cloth).
Texans take the Second Amendment seriously. They shoot guns, collect guns,
attend gun shows, and buy gun books. The Arts and Entertainment Network
series concerning history of guns scored high in local ratings. Firearms, of
course, constitute a highly visible component of the Texas myth. Texans blasting
away with long rifles or six-shooters remain an enduring element of the state's
Wild West image. The passage of the concealed handgun law, however, has
more state residents legally packing iron than ever before.
There are those who find all of this rather disconcerting. They believe the
state's Wild West image and the steadfast opposition to federal gun control legis-
lation mire the state in a brutal past. They contend such attitudes are not, well,
progressive. What the critics of this cultural phenomenon fail to understand is
that it is possible to be a gun "enthusiast" without being a "gun nut."
Garavaglia and Worman, however, do understand. Far too many gun books on
the market "preach to the choir." Since they provide arcane minutiae for the
serious aficionado, the uninitiated find it difficult to get past all the jargon. This
study provides an overview for a general readership. As the authors explain:
"Some excellent specialized studies were available, but these usually concentrat-
ed on a particular firearm or type of firearm and made no attempt to cover the
whole field. In contrast, the few general books on the subject tended to rely too
heavily on secondary sources" (p. xi).
The authors bring considerable experience to the project. Garavaglia served
in Vietnam and was a technical editor for the American Rifleman. Worman is a
Fellow and Life Member of the Company of Military Historians. He is also cura-
tor of the U.S. Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Versed in
gun lore, the authors are able to provide technical information on almost every
period firearm. Unlike many of their associates, Garavaglia and Worman provide
the social context. They realize that guns are tools. It was the man-and the
woman-wielding the weapon that determined its importance These volumes
concentrate as much on people as guns.

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 102, July 1998 - April, 1999. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101219/. Accessed July 11, 2014.