Book Review: V22N9

By Dean Roxby

Three Gatling Gun Books to Read

This month’s book review is a bit different. This review looks at three different books that cover the same subject and compares and contrasts those titles.

I would like to hear from you, the reader, to see if you like this approach. I welcome such feedback.

Not surprisingly, the three books have very similar titles. One has been out of print for many years; another is recently out of print; while the third is still available. The two older books can easily be found online. I bought both through Amazon. A quick check on Amazon right now shows several dozen listings for each title currently. The three reviews are listed in order of release.

The Gatling Gun (1965)
Paul Wahl and Don Toppel
Arco Publishing

This book is by far the oldest at 53 years since it was first published, and it is still the one to beat. One of the authors, Donald R. Toppel, had at the time of publication an astonishing 38 Gatlings in his personal collection! Little wonder he was considered the leading authority on Gatling guns.

At first glance, this book has a very dated appearance. It contains no color photographs at all, and the text size is quite small. There are some B&W photographs and many old-style woodcuts and line drawings. Yet it would be a great mistake to dismiss this book based on that. The woodcut and engraving style of pictures are from the era, taken from tech manuals, news articles and advertising starting from the 1860s. Several patent applications are shown, complete with technical drawings. These old images give this book a classic feel.

Chapter One: The Early Years begins with Richard Gatling’s and the Gatling family’s early history. It mentions that Richard’s father owned two slaves. I was not expecting to see this discussed so casually in print. Times change. It then mentions some of Richard’s early inventions and patents including a seed sowing machine.

Chapter Two: War Between The States starts with a look at other multi-barrel guns, such as the “Coffee Mill Gun,” the Organ...

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V22N9 (November 2018)
and was posted online on September 21, 2018


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