Writing Echoes

Delijah's Writing Blog

Research Book Review: Armed and Dangerous

Book: ARMED AND DANGEROUS: a writer’s guide to weapons.
Author: Michael Newton.

This is the other book I have from the Howdunit Series (a pun of the whodunit way of calling crime books), along with Murder One [link]. This is the book I originally was after when I hunted Amazon down for the Howdunit Series, but contrary to Murder One, this one I did not like. Let me rephrase that. I could not finish it.

The book covers:

  • Analysis of the appeal of firearms
  • Short story of gunpowder in Ancient times
  • Old West Firearms
  • War weapons
  • “Cops and Robbers”
  • Spies
  • Terrorists
  • Review of weapon identification procedures
  • Hunting weapons
  • Explosives

Is the book informative? I honestly don’t know. The writing is boring, it feels like a dull history schoolbook in which the important information gets lost behind a bunch of dates and dull numbers.

The first time I picked ARMED AND DANGEROUS up I read the first two chapters, on why weapons, and the importance of authors knowing their weapons before messing up in their stories. Fair enough, being wrong is not something I want. The mocking tone the author uses when he points out mistakes, however makes it a little… distasteful I think, probably hoping to point to the future author the importance of accuracy.

Afterward I moved up to the history of gunpowder and the Old West. Boring. Dull history telling throwing here and there a few bits of interesting details, but I told myself that I was not really that interested on Chinese first experiments with powder. The first chapters about warfare was no better, so I decided to skip ahead to “Cops and Robbers”.

I think I’ve reread the three first three pages of “Cops and Robbers” about five times, and the whole chapter at least twice. It’s still boring. The information still gets lost in the descriptions. The chapter tries to make an index card for each used weapon while still describing the history and flow of events. Which… does not work for me. The information gets lost.

The “Whodunit” chapter is the only salvageable one of what I read, which proves my point somehow. The chapter which does not include weapon details (a.k.a. the reason one would buy this book in the first place), is the only one which becomes interesting.

The book includes a firearm glossary, which you could easily pull off the internet (I got a few), a ‘selected’ chronology of firearms history which takes 3 pages tops, and a grand total of four pictures of firearms parts, which fail to show the whole weapon, solving the parts in the back with a “items not visible on the right hand side: … “. Again, I got better graphs from the internet.

I learnt that some weapons can use different bullets, but I’m still confused about calibers and recoils. I learnt that revolvers don’t have safety switches (which I read quite a few times). I also learnt that I like user-friendly indexes.

All in all, considering that I’ve given up on the book, being unable to finish it, that I found it boring and not really informative, I consider ARMED AND DANGEROUS a non-necessary resource, not even as start-up point. Any “gun nut” blog is way more interesting and informative than I found the book to be.


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