Her Best Shot: Women and Guns in America / Edition 1

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Overview

Browder examines the relationship between women and guns in America and the ways in which the figure of the armed woman has served as a lightning rod for cultural issues. She traces appearances of the armed woman across a chronological spectrum from the American Revolution to the present and an ideological spectrum ranging from the Black Panthers to right-wing militias. In an entertaining and provocative analysis, she looks at women including Deborah Sampson, who disguised herself as a man to fight in the American Revolution; Pauline Cushman, who posed as a Confederate to spy for Union forces during the Civil War; Wild West sure-shot Annie Oakley; African explorer Osa Johnson; 1930s gangsters Ma Barker and Bonnie Parker; and Patty Hearst, the hostage-turned-revolutionary-turned-victim.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"An enjoyable book. A well-written, thought-provoking history of images of women with guns. . . . A fascinating tour through American history."-- Winterthur Portfolio

"Deftly analyzes the figure of the armed woman as both cultural hero and villain."--American Historical Review

"A rich story."--Journal of Social History

"Fascinating. . . . Lucidly written and clearly argued. . . . Illuminat[es] a culture of violence through the study of popular culture, media representations, and political spectacle."--Journal of Interdisciplinary History

"Deftly explores one facet of the relationship between women and guns in American history: that most manifest in literary expression and advertising."--Pacific Northwest Quarterly

"Browder's book is far-ranging. It is filled with provocative observations on class dynamics and on the biological essentialism that is--and long has been--used to define women with guns."--Journal of Southern History

"The work is appealingly written, satisfyingly illustrated, and well researched."--CHOICE

"Filled with fascinating history that has largely been lost or ignored--until now."--Field and Stream

"Browder's study makes clear that the portrayal of a woman with a gun has many shades of meaning bound up with race and class as well as gender."--Roanoke Times

"Provides fascinating insights into a feminized gun culture perhaps little known to academic readers. . . . An impressive account of women and guns in America."--Journal of American History
"There is a lot of fascinating historical information in Her Best Shot, but its most attractive feature is the well-written narrative. . . . It deserves to . . . make the best seller list and would add to both the understanding of, and the continuing debate about, women gunowners."--Women & Guns

"[An] engaging and readable history. . . . Browder adeptly weaves the complex and multilayered viewpoints that plague both the status of women and of guns in this country."--BUST

"Her Best Shot has a terrific premise, a why-hasn't-it-been-done-before exploration of gun-toting women in American history, society's attempts to either quash or domesticate them, and the various ways such women have challenged and . . . shot down traditional gender roles along the way."--Bitch

"[Her Best Shot] explores the social meanings of armed womanhood in a culture where violence is associated with masculinity. Browder traces the phenomenon from Civil War cross-dressing spies to the present-day National Rifle Association's female-oriented marketing strategies, demonstrating how public discussions of gun-toting women find each successive era revealing its particular anxieties about women's sexuality and role as citizens."--Publishers Weekly

Publishers Weekly
The "thriving gun culture" of the South took Browder by surprise when the New Englander moved to Virginia. Now Browder (Rousing the Nation: Radical Culture in Depression America), an associate professor of English at Virginia Commonwealth University, explores the social meanings of armed womanhood in a culture where violence is associated with masculinity. Browder traces the phenomenon from Civil War cross-dressing spies to the present-day National Rifle Association's female-oriented marketing strategies, demonstrating how public discussions of gun-toting women find each successive era revealing its particular anxieties about women's sexuality and role as citizens. Browder discusses a series of " armed celebrities"-from Wild West stars like Annie Oakley and Calamity Jane to outlaws such as Bonnie Parker (of Bonnie and Clyde fame) and Patty Hearst-and examines the contradictory views about women soldiers, the gun-slinging pioneer mother "lioness" protecting her family, women at the turn of the 20th century who wielded their weapons to uphold white rights and the women radical activists, both black and white, of the 1960s and 1970s who "used the gun as a bid for equal power within their often sexist movements." Browder packs her dense yet jargon-free study with salient examples drawn from contemporary print and visual sources. 34 illus. (Oct. 16) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807858899
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 3/10/2008
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 5.96 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.72 (d)

Meet the Author

Laura Browder is professor of English at Virginia Commonwealth University, where she teaches in the creative writing program. She is author of Rousing the Nation: Radical Culture in Depression America and Slippery Characters: Ethnic Impersonators and American Identities (from the University of North Carolina Press).
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Table of Contents

Introduction : The news about women and guns 1
1 Military heroines : narratives of female soldiers and spies in the Civil War 22
2 Little miss sure shot and friends, or how armed women tamed the West 57
3 Maid Marians and bad mothers : from the gungirls of the 1920s to the gangsters of the 1930s 100
4 Radical women of the 1960s and 1970s 136
5 Armed women of the far right : race mothers, warriors, and the surprising case of Carolyn Chute 186
6 Armed Feminism or family values? : women and guns today 212
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