A dense journey through an ocean of iron and blood best suited for gun enthusiasts.



The first biography since the 1950s of the famed—and in some circles, infamous—gun-maker.

Gorenstein delivers a technically detailed life of John Moses Browning (1855-1926), a second-generation member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and second-generation gun manufacturer who found pleasure in inventing weapons. As a young boy, he built a working shotgun in his father’s shop, and he began sketching out plans for more advanced weapons. Years later, he noted, “a good idea starts a celebration of the mind, and every nerve in the body seems to crowd up to see the fireworks.” There were fireworks aplenty, as Browning developed repeating rifles, pump shotguns, and other armaments, licensing his patents to all the major manufacturers—Remington, Colt, Winchester, and so forth—and creating new designs by trial and error. Gorenstein takes a cataloger’s tone as he describes each new prototype and design. Of one early gas machine gun, he writes, “At forty-one inches long and a relatively modest thirty-five pounds, it had to be mounted on a tripod but remained far more portable than a hand-cranked Gatling gun, and it gave Colt a chance to compete in a market dominated by the Maxim gun.” The result is a text gun collectors and historians of armaments will cherish, though nonspecialists may get bogged down in such technical matters as the composition of a “locked breech system” for high-pressure weapons like Browning’s .45 pistol and automatic rifle. Gorenstein clearly demonstrates how most of the world’s guns, from the AK-47 to the latest Sig Sauer pistols, draw on Browning’s designs of more than a century ago, and he tallies many of the known assets of Browning’s estate and those of his heirs. However, he avoids reckoning with the human costs. “If there were going to be wars, there had to be guns,” he writes, “and Browning was going to give his country the best.”

A dense journey through an ocean of iron and blood best suited for gun enthusiasts.

Pub Date: May 25, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982129-21-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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