In the current conflict, no American warfighter emerged with a more recognizable name than Chris Kyle, a SEAL who set an awesome kill record as a sniper in Afghanistan and Iraq. His book “American Sniper” became a huge bestseller, and not just among military and shooter folk. The story of a young man who came to terms with killing other people to keep them from killing his people struck a responsive chord throughout our society.  (If you haven’t read it, do.)

He captured the nation’s attention again a few months ago when, home stateside and working hard to help vets who came back damaged, Kyle and a friend took a PTSD-suffering veteran to the range at his request. They became victims of cowardly murder at that man’s hands.

At the time of his death, Chris Kyle was working on a second book which celebrated his life-long understanding and appreciation of firearms. His wife and friends finished the job, and “American Gun: A History of the U.S. in Ten Firearms” came out this week. The partial manuscript was completed by a team that loved him and understood him: his young widow Taya, and his friends William Doyle and Jim DeFelice.

I was in a Barnes & Noble this past Monday, and even though they had cases already in stock, they adamantly refused to sell me one until Tuesday, the scheduled release date. So, on Tuesday, in another city, I got to another book store and bought a copy.

It lives up to its title.

“American Gun” smoothly weaves firearms development with the history and needs which drove that development. Though it focuses on ten iconic firearms, each is set into the context of generations of development before and after that specimen.  Kyle and company make clear how the guns were used, by whom, and for what purpose. Famous battles and shootouts are described, not to revel in morbid bloodshed, but to illustrate how understanding of human conflict led to the creation of better fighting tools.

Like Kyle’s first book, this one does not appear to be written so much for the specialist in the field, though that reader will certainly appreciate it.  It seems to have been written more for the person new to the topic.  It clearly shows that the gun is a tool, its effect driven by the people who use it. The Thompson submachine gun favored by Al Capone and John Dillinger was considered a life-saver by the Americans of The Greatest Generation who used it to help defeat the Nazis on one side of the world and simultaneously avenge Pearl Harbor on the other.  The book makes clear how the duality of the gun, in that respect, is simply an allegory for the duality of Man.

I hope this book becomes a huge best-seller, too.  More Americans need to understand what Chris Kyle was trying to tell us when he died, a message I thank Taya Kyle and William Doyle and Jim DeFelice for finishing and bringing to a nation which desperately needs to understand it.


  1. Rest in Peace, Chris Kyle. Thank you for your service, and God bless your family for your sacrifices.

  2. It is also worth noting that proceeds from Kyle’s first book all go to charity, to help wounded vets. Proceeds from this new book will benefit his widow and children.

  3. I will pick up a hard copy this weekend, as it’s going on the bookshelf. Thanks for the heads up.

  4. Be sure to check out the outstanding gear available for sale in the e-store of Chris Kyle’s company, Craft International. I intend to wear a Craft International baseball cap to show support for the private sector firm that was Kyle’s dream.
    As you contemplate how best to do your part to perpetuate Chris’ legacy of courage, duty, heroism, honor, integrity and selflessness, pause for a moment to reflect how many sons and daughters of America who went to war in overseas returned home safely to the arms of their loved ones only because Chief Petty Officer Chris Kyle, USN, carried out his assigned duties with unequivocal, unparalleled skill. Chris Kyle was most certainly a battlefield savior who repeatedly placed his own life at extreme risk to save the lives of many American and allied forces’ airmen, Marines, sailors and soldiers. Our nation needs heroes. Chris Kyle was, is, and always shall be a larger than life American hero whose total commitment to his comrades, his Country and his family will be celebrated until the end of time.

  5. Jesse Ventura is suing Kyle’s wife regarding comments in the first book. What a schmuck.

  6. Going to buy the book as well. Just saw his wife, Taya Kyle on O’Riely discussing the book. Glad the book was completed as it needed to be in his honor.

  7. Ventura was suing Kyle *before* he died, for comments Kyle made on air and then repeated in the book. His lawsuit seeks to remove the comments from both the book and movie, as they have never been proven to be factual.

  8. I got my copy and almost read it in one sitting (darn work interfered.) It reads like a good friend telling you great gun stories over a couple of cold ones.

  9. It must have been a true work of love and honor for Mrs. Kyle to finish this book. I certainly hope Jesse Ventura’s suit is dismissed with prejudice, as he’s barking up the wrong tree. I hear chatter that he’s trying to repair his reputation by doing so… that ship has sailed.
    Thanks, Mas

  10. I have read Kyle’s first book but don’t remember any comments made about Ventura. I suppose I will have to check it out of the library again just to see what was said.

    I just got home from Barnes & Noble with Kyle’s new book AMERICAN GUN. It was on a table with other books marked for Father’s Day.

  11. My understanding of the case is based on:

    This is it in a nutshell:

    “In a section of his book called “Punching Out Scruff Face,” Kyle describes a confrontation with a “celebrity” at a 2006 wake for a Navy SEAL. He claimed “Scruff Face” made disparaging remarks about the war, the United States and President George W. Bush, provoking Kyle to punch him in the face.

    Although he didn’t name “Scruff Face,” Kyle later acknowledged in media interviews that he was describing Ventura.”

    My two-pennyworth? And note the above is all I have to go on. *IF* Kyle was indulging in telling “sea stories” (to put it charitably) then yes, Ventura is being perfectly correct to sue. However, IMHO, in continuing to sue Kyle’s widow Mr. Ventura is making himself look “scruffy.”

  12. The thing is that when Kyle died, his wife took over the book/movie deal…and the lawsuit has to add her in order to continue (or Ventura has to let the suit drop, because Kyle is deceased). If the original suit has merit, then to let it drop merely because Kyle’s widow is now at the helm is to accept the damage to his reputation. All that has to happen to fix things is for them to remove the (unsubstantiated) comments by Kyle from both the book and movie, and Ventura could drop the suit. Unfortunately, like characters is a Greek tragedy, both sides feel they cannot let the issue drop (one to save his honor, the other to avoid damaging the honor of a loved one that has died). It’s going to go to a court battle, and neither side will walk away with their honor intact, I think.

    Its a shame, really.

  13. Book just got here, but I’m still reading Invisible Armies (which is LOOOONNNGG). 😀 This is the next one up. American Sniper helped me work out a bunch of conflicting feelings about weapons, war and shooting in general, while I was still plinking away with the .22.

  14. I just bought a copy off Amazon and started reading it yesterday. Its a good book, but as other reviewers have said it is more of a beginner book for someone who is interested in firearms but not necessarily a serious collector. I really like his ties between the firearms and history – which is one reason I collect and shoot – to learn the history. There are several historical mistakes (stating that the Spanish Mausers at Kettle Hill fired spitzer bullets, calling the Gatlings at San Juan Heights “Model 1895” – those were the two 1895 Colt MG’s plus the Gatlings) but it is an enjoyable read written by a great American. As others have already stated, I’ll bet his wife enjoyed finishing his work. I could see where this book could generate interest for a newby collector. God bless!

  15. As Mrs. Kyle has stated, it is not a fact Mr. Kyle’s murderer was not diagnosed with PTSD.

    I think he was after the truck.

  16. That bastard didn’t have PTSD. I met him in 2007. He was a jarhead mechanic and he was crazier then hell. Kyle had more PTSD than he did. He is just scum.

  17. The Ventura lawsuit appears to have quite a lot of merit. He should press on with it until and unless the objectionable material is removed. Even though he is a “public figure” Ventura has a chance to win it because the story appears to be a fabrication by the author and Ventura looks to be able to prove it.

    Even if the story was true, there are many who agree with Ventura about the failed wars and foreign policies of Mr. Bush. I count myself among them.

  18. I don’t beleive that Chris Kyle had a dishonerable bone in his body. If you have heard any of Jesse’s rambling in the last several years it you would have to believe that the story is possible. The burden of proof is on Jesse to prove that it isn’t true not on the Kyle family to prove that it is. Also, I don’t see where it damages Jesse anyway. Anyone who is paying attention doesn’t think much of his reputation anyway. I think sueing was his way to try to stay in the spotlight.

  19. @DKL – It doesn’t work like that. When you assert that something happened, burden of proof is on *you* to prove that it did, not the other way around. Kyle went on a radio show and made specific statements that harm Ventura professionally (particularly because he is a potential candidate for public office). When challenged on these statements, he was unable to prove them as factual…the lawsuit is to force *whoever* is in control of the book/movie to remove those unproven allegations.

    Regardless of what you think of Ventura personally, under the law he is entitled to the same protections as you and I. If someone goes on a local radio show and names *you* personally, and says you are a child molester, a con man and you cheat on your wife…I’m sure you’d agree that the law says HE has to prove those allegations rather than YOU having to disprove them. Whether or not those allegations are true, the fact that they are made in a public venue damages your reputation and affects your life in the future. Hence, you get a lawyer and force him to retract the statements and stop making unsupported allegations in the future.

  20. Incidentally, the current issue of American Rifleman (the NRA magazine) has an excerpt from this book, basically the ‘American Long Rifleman’ story. It is an enjoyable bit of reading, that makes me want to buy the book.

  21. One last thought on this.

    Assume for a moment that the Kyle story is partially true. I say partially, because I find it absurd that any ex-serviceman would say he was glad that another serviceman died, even if he opposes the current wars. Indeed, the anti-interventionist/Paulite position is adopted primarily because people object to the waste of our soldiers lives, and this explains Paul’s fund raising success among the active duty forces in his 2008 and 2012 nomination campaigns.

    What would you say – assuming you did not know their identities – of a 32 year old current serviceman, presumably in top condition, assaulting a 55 year old man, publicly known to be in bad health, over a political disagreement and then running away and boasting of it?

    In my opinion it is not Ventura’s reputation that is in jeopardy here, it is Kyle’s. That assertion is based on the condition that Kyle’s own account is true. There is a reason that Ventura said, half jokingly, that he was helping Kyle to clear his name.

  22. I purchased “American Gun” and finished it yesterday. Well-written, with a lot of useful information. The illustrations, especially, are good and mostly new to me. Good book that gives a good perspective on US history.

  23. The American Rifleman has a chapter from this new book appearing as an article. Going to order this and his first book.