The Gun that Changed the World / Edition 1

Paperback (Print)
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $15.24
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 38%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (10) from $15.24   
  • New (6) from $18.49   
  • Used (4) from $15.24   


The Russian word that is most frequently spoken throughout the world isn't Lenin, gulag or perestroika, it's 'Kalashnikov'. The reason for this is simple: there are 80 million Kalashnikovs in circulation on five continents. Once invented, the AK-47 assault rifle became the most widely used weapon in the world: from Vietnam to Palestine, from Cuba to Iraq, it was at the heart of conflicts and struggles everywhere. It is the only firearm that has ever been depicted on a national flag - that of Mozambique, where it symbolizes liberation.

Mikhail Kalashnikov himself, who was born in 1919, here tells his life story, with the help of Elena Joly, for the first time: his deportation to Siberia with his family while still a child; his time as a soldier in a tank regiment; his invention of the world's most famous weapon and his turbulent life under Stalin, Khrushchev, Brezhnev, Gorbachev and Yeltsin. This is a remarkable portrait of a man of ingenuity and vitality in the context of the often frightening and terribly unforgiving Russia of the twentieth century.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This intruiging autobiography opens doors on life in the onceclosed military town of Izhevsk, and provides revealing insightsinto the not-so-closed mind of a Soviet gunmaker."
Times Literary Supplement

"A commanding portrait of a man who lived through the best andworst treatment at the hands of the Soviet regime."

"Mikhail Kalashnikov's autobiography is an intriguing look intothe life and mind of a self-taught weapons designer who believed inwhat he did and for whom he did it. In plain language, this simpleman straightforwardly tells of the adversity he surmounted as ayouth to achieve the pinnacle of success as an adult. Though heascribes the success in his life to fate, his innate vision andtalent for the mechanics of weapon design show throughunmistakably. A Stalinist, communist and patriot to the end, hislife story is a valuable lens through with to view the history ofthe USSR and Russia from revolution to the present."
Roger Reese, Texas A&M University

"Mikhail Kalashnikov’s 'assault rifle' bridged the gapbetween the slow but accurate rifle and the fast but inaccuratesub-machine gun, and thus brought us – in the 1940s –to the point where armies still stand today. Readers of thisdelightful book will wonder why he ever bothered. Purged by Stalinand exiled to Siberia as a boy, Kalashnikov later accepted theStalin Prize for his work on the AK-47. This fascinating book is anenthralling journey into the Soviet arsenal and mind."
Geoffrey Wawro, University of North Texas

"This book has pace, passion and a number of unusual insightsinto the weird mindset of at least one section of the Soviet rulingclasses. It is a human story: a 'rags to riches' or 'poor boy makesgood' story – and occasionally even a tear-jerker. It alsocontains some pretty good jokes."
Paddy Griffith, freelance military historian andpublisher

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780745636924
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 11/6/2006
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 606,356
  • Product dimensions: 5.55 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Elena Joly listened to Kalashnikov as he told his story and has been careful to respect his spoken style. Born in the Soviet Union, she now lives in Paris. She was in charge of the 'Soviet section' of the French publishing house Actes Sud, and has written La Troisième Mort de Staline (1988), a series of interviews with intellectuals of the Gorbachev period.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents


Foreword to English edition: The history and workings of theAK-47.

Preface – The Terror and the Glory.

1. Treading a path of pain and sorrow.

Son of a kulak.

Farewell to Siberia.

2. ‘Arise, great country! Arise to mortalfight!’

The last but one.

My university – the hospital.

'You must help Sergeant Kalashnikov!'

3. The birth of the AK.

The 'Mikhim' dossier.

'Up until 2025, and even beyond….'

4. A unique weapon.

The standardization of firearms.

One more step.

5. 'He was a god, he might rise again.'

Daily life of a deputy in the Supreme Soviet.

Behind the walls of the Kremlin.

6. 'At home and abroad.'


Better late than never.

7. Odds and ends.



Biographical details.

Select bibliography and filmography.


Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)