Lethal Passage: The Story of a Gun

Lethal Passage: The Story of a Gun

2.8 18
by Erik Larson
     
 

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This devastating book begins with an account of a crime that is by now almost commonplace: on December 16, 1988, sixteen-year-old Nicholas Elliot walked into his Virginia high school with a Cobray M-11/9 and several hundred rounds of ammunition tucked in his backpack. By day's end, he had killed one teacher and severely wounded another.

In Lethal Passage Erik

Overview

This devastating book begins with an account of a crime that is by now almost commonplace: on December 16, 1988, sixteen-year-old Nicholas Elliot walked into his Virginia high school with a Cobray M-11/9 and several hundred rounds of ammunition tucked in his backpack. By day's end, he had killed one teacher and severely wounded another.

In Lethal Passage Erik Larson shows us how a disturbed teenager was able to buy a weapon advertised as "the gun that made the eighties roar." In so doing, he not only illuminates America's gun culture -- its manufacturers, dealers, buffs, and propagandists -- but also offers concrete solutions to our national epidemic of death by firearm. The result is a book that can -- and should -- save lives, and that has already become an essential text in the gun-control debate.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Wall Street Journal reporter Larson has written a new afterword to this timely study of American gun culture.
Library Journal
In this work, Larson interweaves the story of a boy and his gun (a 16-year-old who kills one teacher and wounds another with a member of the infamous MAC-10 family) with a study of the causes and effects of our gun-happy society. He admits that he has no problem with using handguns for sport or even as a last line of self-defense. But he goes on to propose a model bill calling for sweeping changes in laws governing the distribution, sale, and design of firearms. It's a pity that, by producing a reasonably balanced account of an incendiary subject, Larson will probably alienate both the pro- and antigun camps, and his bill, as he acknowledges, ``doesn't have a chance in hell of being passed.'' Highly recommended nonetheless. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 11/1/93.-- Jim Burns, Ottumwa, Ia.
Ray Olson
Larson's text consists of two interwoven strands. One is the story of the day 16-year-old Nicholas Elliot brought his gun to school and murdered a teacher, wounded another, and would have wreaked far more carnage had not his very first ammunition clip (he was carrying hundreds of rounds) jammed. The other relates Larson's discoveries about the gun trade and its regulation as he tracked the course by which the gun, a nasty semiautomatic, came to Elliot. This strand begins and ends in U.S. culture, first exposing historic myths about guns to which most U.S. citizens credulously subscribe (the Old West myth, various self-defense myths, etc.) and then the myths vended by the NRA, the gun-oriented press, and the entertainment media. In between these cultural poles, Larson discusses the near fly-by-night manufacturer of Elliot's weapon; the dealer who sold it to him through the boy's uncle; and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, the federal agency charged with monitoring illegal gun transactions. Larson's journey discloses a commercial system shot through with venality, social irresponsibility, and ingrained bad habits of skirting legality--one that badly needs the comprehensive regulation he proposes but, he concedes, "doesn't have a chance in hell of being passed." Why? Because, he ruefully concludes, we still are willing "to stand back and allow the gunslingers of America free play while the rest of us cower under the new tyranny of the gun." The last time Crown put some push behind a "Wall Street Journal" reporter's effort, the book was Susan Faludi's "Backlash" (1991). This is at least as important a book.
Newsday
Should be required reading.
From the Publisher
"Larson takes us past the absurd myths, past the numbing statistics, and into the face of reality.... Journalism at its highest."

— Los Angeles Times Book Review

"An artful slice of the story of what may be the greatest shame we as a nation have tried... to hide from ourselves.... Fascinating." — Chicago Sun-Times

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307803313
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
07/27/2011
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
80,148
File size:
2 MB

Meet the Author

ERIK LARSON is the author of four national bestsellers: In the Garden of Beasts, Thunderstruck, The Devil in the White City, and Isaac's Storm, which have collectively sold more than 5.5 million copies. His magazine stories have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, Harper's and other publications and his books have been published in fourteen countries.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Seattle, Washington
Date of Birth:
January 1, 1954
Place of Birth:
Brooklyn, New York
Education:
B.A., University of Pennsylvania, 1976; M.S., Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, 1978

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Lethal Passage 2.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
Anonymous 11 months ago
I have read all of Erik Larson's books, and for that reason this one was a big disappointment. Most of his works are extremely well-researched, and I did not find that sense of objectivity in this tome. There ARE many objective sources of recent data showing that of the 30,000 gun-related deaths, two-thirds are suicides (and most of these are veterans, shame on us!!) and the majority of the remainder are drug and gang-related (also shame on us!!). To say that this book opens the way for a dialog on gun violence is a stretch: if it was, it would treat the issues from a more open perspective and use relevant sources more extensively. Too bad it did not...
ddpdx More than 1 year ago
I found this to be a compelling, thoughtful reframing of the politically overheated gun control conversation (in fact, it does actually read as if the author is trying to engage in a conversation, backed by knowledge and an awareness of the practical realities, not hyperbole.) However, I do find the success marred by the age of the statistics in the book--it lists a 2011 publication date but most of the statistics and assessments of laws dates from the 90's. I kept wondering how/if things had changed appreciably, especially regarding the information on the regulatory environment for gun dealers and manufacturers. The afterword modestly updated it; a good prologue on the topic might have help me while reading. Still, an excellent read on a difficult topic--ignore other reviewers who denounce it as propaganda
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Leave this on the shelf.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I guess I have purchased my last Larson book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I dont know why people whant to kill them selves i get it if u have a bad back round or are geting bullyed but u can over come that u dont have to kill urself if u are hopeless u can tun to god and tell people whats happining it saved me
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I put this one up to read an account where a guy used his gun to kill an intruder in his home.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dont even bother reading it
guitaoist3 More than 1 year ago
propganda
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wasup da snipa here
Imani Braxton More than 1 year ago
This book is very inspiring, and not for one second did i stop reading ------- i suggest EVERYBODY to download this book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Never put a gun to your head. People who do that is so dum. Taking your one life , how is that going to help you. You have people who love you to much to see you die. It makes alot of sence