Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Why I really, really want to know more about the Kalashnikov

I never thought I would find the story of the AK-47 interesting, but as I was driving home today I heard an interview with a man who's written a book about the AK-47 and almost didn't get out of the car because it was so fascinating. Just released today, C.J. Chivers' book The Gun isn't even in my library yet, but I know I'm going to have to get my hands on it.

Largely because Chivers was such an amazing storyteller on the radio. He put the narrative together so well just in talking about it, and I would be willing to bet he does the same in his writing. Here's a little snippet from the transcript from Fresh Air:

TERRY GROSS: Tell us about some of the very odd, maybe even bizarre ways that the M-16 was tested.

Mr. CHIVERS: In the 1960s at the Aberdeen Proving Ground, on very short notice and with very little supervision, a group of scientists in this - what was known as the biophysics division, set to work on a number of tests to determine which rifle, the AR-15, the M-14 or the Kalashnikov, was the most lethal. Now, measuring lethality is not easy, right? I mean its kind of a concept that is very, very hard to replicate without killing things. And so they set about killing things.

Is that not incredible? The way he sets the scene and the clarity with which he introduces the characters and the conflict? Are you not dying to know what happens next? Holy mackerel.

I say again, I never suspected I would want to know about the Kalashnikov, but now I do. If you see a copy in your local library, snag it for me, would you?

[You can listen to the full interview here.]

1 comment:

it's margaret said...

I heard it too --and was transfixed! I agree!