Item description for Armed America: The Remarkable Story of How and Why Guns Became as American as Apple Pie by Clayton E. Cramer...
Overview In this true story of our nation's love affair with firearms, Clayton E. Cramer debunks the myths and takes readers along a winding historical trail full of surprising revelations and riveting anecdotes, explaining the roots of America's gun culture.
"For many Americans, guns seem to be a fundamental part of the American experience―and always have been."
Grand in scope, rigorous in research, and elegant in presenting the formative years of our country, "Armed America" traces the winding historical trail of United States citizens' passion for firearms. Author and historial Clayton E. Cramer goes back to the source, unearthing first-hand accounts from the colonial times, through the Revolutionary War period, and into the early years of the American Republic.
In "Armed America," Cramer depicts a budding nation dependent on its firearms not only for food and protection, but also for recreation and enjoyment. Through newspaper clippings, official documents, and personal diaries, he shows that recent grandiose theories claiming that guns were scarce in early America are shaky at best, and downright false at worst. Above all, Cramer allows readers a priceless glimpse of a country literally fighting for its identity.
For those who think that our citizens' attraction to firearms is a recent phenomenon, it's time to think again. "Armed America" proves that the right to bear arms is as American as apple pie.
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Studio: Thomas Nelson
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9.54" Width: 6.54" Height: 1.16" Weight: 1.16 lbs.
Release Date Feb 1, 2007
Publisher Thomas Nelson
ISBN 1595550690 ISBN13 9781595550699
Availability 0 units.
More About Clayton E. Cramer
Clayton E. Cramer has an MA in History from Sonoma State University, and has taught history at Boise State University and George Fox University (Boise branch). A writer whose work has been published in the San Jose Mercury News, National Review, and the American Rifleman, he has published several academic books on history and firearms, including For the Defense of Themselves and the State and Black Demographic Data, 1790-1860. He writes a monthly column for Shotgun News (circ. 95,000).
Reviews - What do customers think about Armed America: The Remarkable Story of How and Why Guns Became as American as Apple Pie?
The Story of Guns in Early America Oct 6, 2007
Clayton E. Cramer has an MA in history from Sonoma State University and has taught history in Boise State University. He published several academic books on history and firearms. His knowledge allowed him to reveal the lies in Bellesiles' book. The 'Acknowledgments' thank those who helped to make this book more entertaining. Cramer notes the changes from the Julian to Gregorian calendar in 1752. Cramer's discussion on Bellesiles' revisionist history begins this educational book. Bellesiles misquoted the historical record to provide false facts for his now discredited book (p.xii). Bellesiles used probate records that were destroyed in the San Francisco earthquake (p.xv)! Another scandal was the dishonesty of university historians (p.xvi). [Upton Sinclair wrote a book in 1922 on corporate control of universities.] Cramer explains the difficulty of evaluating written records from 300 years ago (pp.xviii-xx).
Part I deals with Colonial America (1607-1775). America followed the English tradition of a militia, people armed for their protection against Indians and England's enemies (p.3). Gun ownership was required by the 18th century (p.4). Chapter 2 tells of the class and race prohibitions on gun ownership. Some whites were distrusted for religious reasons. Indians were banned from owning guns (Chapter 3) but acquired them through commerce. They were armed for their fights with other tribes (p.42). Chapter 5 tells of the probate records that record personal property; there are problems with these records (p.55). Ads in newspapers may be more reliable, as well as gunpowder import records (p.56). Chapter 5 lists the hunting practices. Murder rates were higher then (p.78). Fights occurred over political concerns (p.80), and tenant uprisings in NY. Pistols were common (p.83). So too were accidents (p.86). Part II documents the Revolutionary War. There are many detailed records on gun ownership. These chapters cover Guns in New England, the Middle Colonies, the South, and the Continental Army and Militias. "Guns were the great equalizers of social status" (p.166).
Part III covers the Early Republic (1783-1846). There are chapters on Militias, Ammunition, Pistols, Guns and Sport, and Guns and Violence. The militia system was superior to a regular army in three ways (p.178). They were low-cost, they were plentiful, and they were widespread. The militia was politically reliable (p.180)! There were arguments against a standing army (p.183). Gunpowder mills were common in most states (Chapter 11). Chapter 12 examines the availability of pistols in America. Hunting was very common and universal on the frontier (p.201). Violence was all too common because of an "honor culture" (p.224). Dueling was quite common, the laws against it nearly useless (a jury would not convict if it conducted honorably). "Regulators" enforced the laws (p.229). Violence was common, often because of slander (p.232). [No mention of the rate of violent death in England or Europe.]
The 'Epilogue' notes that America was a society where guns were common for military defense, defense of a home and family, as a symbol of citizenship, and for violence. Newspapers, law books, memoirs, travel accounts, and advertisements documented the common ownership of guns. The 'Bibliography' lists the Primary and Secondary sources (pp.244-255). [Neither Bellesiles or Cramer tell how America was a peaceful refuge from the wars and oppressions of Europe.]
Who will debunk the debunkers? Jul 28, 2007
Michael Bellisiles wrote a book that, for some reason, scared the NRA. Bellisiles argued that America's gun culture didn't develop until around the time of the Civil War. He did not argue that America does not have a gun culture. Why the right got so exorcized about whether gun lust has a 17th century or 19th century origin is beyond me. But anyway, Mr. Cramer, we are told, figures prominently in the anti-Bellisiles crusade. This is not a good omen. Yes, Bellisiles lost his post at Emory -- that's in the liberal stronghold of Georgia, folks, where their idea of a historian is Newt Gingrich (can you say 'political pressure?' I knew you could.) Yes the Bancroft prize was withdrawn (ditto). Does any of this lend credence to the claims of Mr. Cramer and his NRA allies that Bellisiles work has been revealed to be a complete 'sham' and discredited in toto? Not at all. The official disciplinary committee that backed his dismissal from Emory took issue with only a few items in Arming America, notably one specific chart of probate data that proved to be in error. The vast majority of professional historians though, however they may feel about the bits of Arming America that have been repeatedly challenged, concede that the vast bulk of this large book is accurate. That leaves Cramer more or less alone in trying to debunk the whole enchilada. As the other negative reviews here indicate, there's a lot of questionable assertion going on here. If Cramer draws different conclusions from the same facts Bellisiles notes, we might compare the logic behind the arguments. Both authors note that laws in early America encouraged gun ownership for the purpose of strengthening militias -- lest the Brits return etc., as they did in 1812. Cramer seems to think this proves guns were popular. Bellisiles argues that the fact people had to have all this coaxing to acquire guns indicates the public was not keen on acquiring them of their own accord. Did the laws passed in the 1960s and 1970s encouraging the addition of safety devices and improved fuel economy in automobiles indicate that these features were in demand, or the opposite?
I wonder how many of the folks who laud Cramer's expose of Bellisiles have actually read Arming America and compared the two cases, and how many only have Cramer's version of Bellisiles to go on. This seems to me a pretty common phenomenon on both right and left: we tend to take reports of someone else's supposed outrageous conduct for granted and join the outrage, without carefully examining whether the actual facts fit the outraged reporter's description.
Interesting ideological footnote: look at the this site 'Better together' feature that offers to pair the book on the page you're viewing with another similar book. For Armed America, this site suggests another pro-gun book. For Arming America, this site suggests... Armed America. Not a bad idea if was reciprocated, eh. So go ahead and buy this book if you're interested in the topic, but buy Bellisiles book as well, and try to think for yourself.
Good book, but it won't convince those who "know" it isn't so Jul 15, 2007
A few years ago Michael Bellsiles wrote a book claiming that early Americans didn't own guns, didn't have them, and that historical documentation proved it. He was widely discredited even by many of his anti-gun peers when it was found that much of his research was false or totally inaccurate.
Clayton Cramer spent five years researching the same records Bellesiles "used" and found totally opposite results, guns were very common all over the colonies (the book covers a period from the 1600's to the 1840's). Divided into 3 sections, Colonial America, the Revolutionary war, and the early Republic- Cramer gives exhaustive detail on what America was really like. The author is even careful to note that sometimes a modern reader can't be sure just what some statements from the past meant. There are a lot of footnotes (unfortunately he gives no indication of just how hard it is for the average person to get at the original documents to read them, he does mention that Bellesiles usually reported just the opposite of what sommething actually said in print.) and a 12 page bibliography to back up his statements.
My worst problem with the book was that the few included photographs are too dark, hard to get any detail from them. It's a good fascinating book that I don't regret owning, it just won't convince anyone who doesn't believe it is true.
Excellent scholarly work May 13, 2007
This is definitely a book for people who enjoy history through original sources. Mr. Cramer brings together a wealth of material that many "professional" historians can't seem to be bothered with.
Revisionists' Bane, Or How The Standard Version Was Right All Along Apr 19, 2007
Cramer writes a focused work, detailing the presence and use of firearms in the colonial, revolutionary and early Republic periods of American history. He compiles a wealth of specific examples based on primary sources like wills, newspapers, legislation, travel books, etc. He demonstrates a deep knowledge of the topic and the sources, showing the range and breadth of early American experience with firearms for use in personal defense and in a military context. Some of the material can be dry, and this book is not one for those looking for a rollicking story - it's a history, of the kind useful for professionals or amateurs with a specific, rather than a general interest in the topic. Occasionally Cramer restates the obvious - of course, given the inability of some of our countries "best" historical scholars on the Bancroft Committee to pick up on the obvious inconsistencies between Bellesiles' writing in Arming America and the original records, he should be forgiven. Armed America should be seen as a refutation of Bellesiles and his ilk - as the academic frauds that they have been demonstrated to be. After reading Armed America you will be convinced that Cramer had the right of it.