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AK-47: The Weapon that Changed the Face of War, by Larry Kahaner

Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley, 2007. Pp. xi, 258. Illus., notes, index. $24.95. ISBN:0-471-72641-9.

A life and times of what some have termed the world’s real “weapon of mass destruction,” one that is probably responsible for more deaths than any other weapon in history barring the Roman sword, which, did, after all, have a reign of several centuries.

In AK-47 journalist Kahaner gives the reader several stories. To begin with, it’s a biography of Mikhail Kalashnikov, the World War II Red Army man who invented it. But the book is also a biography of this quite impressive weapon, delving into its tech-nological, tactical, and political origins. The work also takes a look at how and why the AK and its derivatives came to be the weapon of choice for insurrectionists, revolutionaries, and trouble makers of all sorts, all over the world, due to for its simplicity and durability, making it an amazingly “soldier proof” weapon. Kahaner doesn’t stop there, however, for he delves into the military, political, social, and cultural impact of the AK-47, which has quite literally changed the world.

These threads are braided into a highly readable, and thought-provoking work, though one likely to irk the gun huggers as much as it will the gun haters. An important read for anyone interested in the current state of the world.

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi   

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