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---------------------------------------------------------------- Book Review of Filth

From: "Rockwell, Benjamin S." <>
Date: Thu, 11 Oct 2001 09:16:40 -0700
To: "''" <>
Cc: "''" <>
Subject: review...

The following is a letter to about their review of the filth that Michael Bellesiles put out... Their review of his book is atrocious, and makes unfounded wild claims...

I would like to ask about the reviews of a particular book, that of Michael Bellesiles, called "Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture". You appear to have written reviews on this book that are very much in favor of the book, however with recent events surrounding this book, and it's author, it may be beneficial for you to "save face" (if you will pardon the expression), to pull your review.

In the past month, many comments have come out in regards to this book, including facts that some of the references that he supposedly used, do not even exist. Others have been shown by scholars and media to be distortions of the truth, or even pure fabrications. For instance, Mr. Bellesiles makes reference to records in San Francisco, which were destroyed in the 1906 quake, and to other documentation that no other scholars, librarians, or government officials have been able to locate. Mr. Bellesiles even has publicly stated that many of his papers were damaged in a flood before writing the book, but these same papers were used in writing the book.

Your review specifically states that Mr. Bellesiles is "highly knowledgeable about weapons", but he states that it takes 3 minutes to load a muzzleloader (flintlock rifle). In all actuality, I have witnessed men loading and firing these same guns twice in the same minute. Additionally, it would seem that references to lack of accuracy with these same guns are taken at face value, yet I can easily fire an 1851 Colt Navy Revolver within a 6 inch circle at 10 yards... and I am not a competition shooter by any means.

OK, I'm sure that I have tortured you enough, but to see that is actually supporting this book of lies and untruths is making me question your reviewing policies, and your abilities to remain unbiased in your reviews. Perhaps you would do good to actually have an experienced gun-owner actually review the books? At last count, there were some 80 million gun owners in the United States, and I'm sure they would frown upon the contradictions of your review.


Oh, and for your viewing pleasure, in case they pull it, here’s the original review.

While gun supporters use the nation's gun-toting history in defense of their way of life, and revolutionary enthusiasts replay skirmishes on historic battlefields, it now turns out that America has not always had a gun culture, and wide-scale gun ownership is much newer than we think. After a 10-year search for "a world that isn't there," professor and scholar Michael Bellesiles discovered that Americans not only rarely owned guns prior to the Civil War, they wouldn't even take them for free from a government that wanted to arm its reluctant public. No sharpshooters, no gun in every home, no children learning to hunt beside their fathers. Bellesiles exhaustively searched legal, probate, military, and business records; fiction and personal letters; hunting magazines; and legislation in his quest for the legendary gun-wielding frontiersman, only to discover that he is a myth.

There are other revelations: gun ownership and storage was strictly legislated in colonial days, and frivolous shooting of a musket was backed by the death penalty; men rarely died in duels because the guns were far too inaccurate (duels were about honor, not murder); pioneers didn't hunt (they trapped and farmed); frontier folk loved books, not guns; and the militia never won a war (it was too inept). In fact, prior to the Civil War, when mass production of higher quality guns became a reality, the republic's greatest problem was a dearth of guns, and a public that was too peaceable to care about civil defense. As Bellesiles writes, "Probably the major reason why the American Revolution lasted eight years, longer than any war in American history before Vietnam, was that when that brave patriot reached above the mantel, he pulled down a rusty, decaying, unusable musket (not a rifle), or found no gun there at all." Strangely, the eagle-eye frontiersman was created by East Coast fiction writers, while the idea of a gun as a household necessity was an advertising ploy of gun maker Samuel Colt (both just prior to the Civil War). The former group fabricated a historic and heroic past while Colt preyed on overblown fears of Indians and blacks. Bellesiles, who is highly knowledgeable about weapons and military history, never comes out against guns. He is more interested in discovering the truth than in taking sides. Nevertheless, his work shatters some time-honored myths and icons--including the usual reading of the Second Amendment—and will be hard to refute. This fascinating, eye-opening account is sure to both inform and inflame the already highly charged debate about guns in America. --Lesley Reed --This text refers to the Hardcover


Benjamin Rockwell

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