Southwestern Historical Quarterly
not detract from the general value of this crisply written study, which
will find its way into lectures and future research on Jackson's foreign
Tulane University RICHARD B. LATNER
Colt: An American Legend. By R. L. Wilson. (New York: Abbeville Press,
1985. Pp. ix+4o6. Foreword, introduction, illustrations, appendix,
bibliography, acknowledgments, owner credits, index. $55-)
While much regional attention is currently being focused on the
Texas Sesquicentennial, it is perhaps noteworthy that another historic
American entity, the Colt firearms enterprise, is also celebrating its one
hundred fiftieth birthday during 1986. A superb measure of that ob-
servance is R. L. Wilson's Colt: An American Legend.
Originally published as the official history of Colt firearms under the
title The Colt Heritage (Simon & Schuster, 1979), this slightly revised and
expanded release is a classic in domestic arms literature. The author
has created what is essentially a product history, treating in detail the
development and importance of every Colt model and variant from the
earliest Paterson arms to the contemporary Python revolver and M 16
rifle. Along the way, one encounters nearly as much history as tech-
nology (including a timely recounting of the mutually beneficial re-
lation enjoyed by Texas and Colt during their concurrent infancies).
Colonel Colt, who created a manufacturing empire on westering Amer-
ica's demand for firepower, figures prominently in the narrative, as do
quite a number of the notable devotees of his product. Much business
history also appears, but it is the guns themselves which remain the
central focus of this work.
The author's thoroughgoing scholarship is augmented by more than
300 illustrations, of which 205 are in lavishly detailed color. Only arms
of the finest condition, embellishment, or historical merit are pictured
(under its previous title, the book was nominated for the American
book Awards-a first in arms literature). With two chapters devoted
especially to collecting and connoisseurship, and with specimens of
intrinsic beauty and rarity illustrated throughout, Colt: An American
Legend succeeds admirably in fostering a broad appreciation of the
technical excellence, historic importance, and aesthetic appeal inherent
in Colt firearms.
If the book has a weakness, it is that some specific data on individual
models and variants is placed in the photo captions, making it difficult
at times to locate particular details through the index. This minor flaw
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 90, July 1986 - April, 1987. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117152/. Accessed March 10, 2014.