2 Books That Hit The Bullseye For Gun Enthusiasts

Theodore Roosevelt: Hunter-Conservationist
By R.L. Wilson

This book is a lavishly illustrated and in-depth story of America’s 26th President, before he sat in the Oval Office. Roosevelt was first and foremost an outdoorsman as well as a hunter, adventurer and soldier whose social and environmental influences on America would be solidified as President of the United States from 1901 to 1909. Noted firearms and Roosevelt historian R.L. Wilson brings not only his knowledge of the Roosevelt family to life in this book, but layers it with greater depth from his long friendship with Teddy’s son, Archibald, and grandson, Tweed, along with insights from acclaimed film producer, director and screenwriter John Milius (who wrote and directed the 1997 film The Rough Riders starring Tom Berenger and Sam Elliott). Combining Teddy Roosevelt’s own writings about hunting and use of various firearms, along with a wealth of historical images and new photography of Roosevelt-owned firearms and memorabilia, the book not only reminds the reader of Teddy’s unyielding commitment to conservation, but also his role as one of the great big-game hunters and naturalists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

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In the book’s foreword, Milius notes, “My father’s heroes were the Rough Riders, those other sons of the West that ‘TR’ drew upon when he started his own war. He was assistant secretary of the Navy. McKinley was President, but it was Roosevelt’s war. Like many to follow, it was a war against the bully, the oppressor putting his boot on someone’s neck. It led to an unforeseen empire and a loss of innocence. ‘TR’ was forever losing innocence. He resigned his position and went to war, led his own regiment of cowboys, hunters, miners, outlaws, even one attorney. He won his war; he went up Kettle Hill, the only man on horseback. Not a good career move or photo op. The other side had machine guns. He got the Medal of Honor. We know the rest. Responsibility—it comes with self-reliance.”

Wilson writes this book with that kind of self-reliance, searching out an entire life and putting it into words that ring true with the very essence of Teddy Roosevelt. Wilson examines Teddy’s remarkable journey westward as a young man in the late 19th century and his emergence as the quintessential American cowboy, hunter, firearms enthusiast, naturalist, soldier and politician. It is an uncanny mix that Wilson turns into 296 entertaining and illuminating pages. Whether you like hunting, guns, American history or just Teddy Roosevelt, this is one book worth owning. For more information, visit http://www.booneandcrockettclub.com

A Legacy in Arms: American Firearm Manufacture, Design, and Artistry, 1800-1900
By Richard C. Rattenbury

This is one of those rare books that gun enthusiasts just can’t put down. It is the firearms equivalent of Rattenburry’s landmark holster book, Packing Iron. To say that I am a Rattenburry fan is an understatement. He is the current curator of history and the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, and one of the most respected authorities on Western firearms. With a foreword by R.L. Wilson, this new book from the University of Oklahoma Press combines Rattenbury’s insights into American gun-making with a stunning collection of vintage photographs and striking studio photography by Ed Muno of firearms from the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum that traverses one of the most important centuries in the history of our nation.

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This is a hardbound book beautifully printed on heavy stock that makes its 226 pages and more than 200 images seem even greater in volume. Divided into three parts and 10 chapters, the book takes the reader from the early 1800s, when handguns and long arms were built by artisan gunsmiths, to the industrial age of Samuel Colt and the beginning of mass production and the assembly line. Part I is lavishly illustrated with examples of early American arms—flintlocks and percussion locks—and delves into the design and manufacturing techniques as well as the singular aesthetics of individual arms and early machinery used for barrel and stock making. Part II illustrates the innovations of Colt’s revolvers and their impact on arms making throughout the 19th century. The centerpiece of this digest is a portfolio of famed American arms-makers from Colt to Remington, Winchester and S&W, to Sharps and Marlin. It concludes with a collection of finely engraved arms to illustrate the art of the arms-maker. This book is educational, visually striking, and like Packing Iron, a reference you must add to your library. For more information, visit http://www.oupress.com


This article originally published in the Summer 2015 issue of GUNS OF THE OLD WEST®, print and digital subscriptions to GUNS OF THE OLD WEST are available here.

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