A Valedictory from Chris Kyle
Chris Kyle, the most lethal sniper in American military history, wrote a second book apart from his memoirs, American Gun: A History of the US in Ten Firearms. Kyle was a Navy SEAL who considered himself a guardian angel for U.S. troops, protecting them in Iraq from the horrific atrocities of the Islamic extremists. He dedicated his life to helping veterans, and standing up for what he believed in, G-d, family, and country.
This Father's Day takes on a special meaning for Chris Kyle's family since this is the first year they will have to deal with his being gone forever. Taya, his wife, noted that after Chris retired the family became a strong unit. The children thought of him, as most children do, that their dad was the best in the world. "They loved, enjoyed, and respected him and they are much better children for having Chris as a father."
Unfortunately, he and his friend Chad Littlefield were murdered in February before Chris finished the book. American Thinker was able to interview his wife, Taya Kyle, and his co-author, William Doyle, as well as Jim DeFelice, the co-author of American Sniper and a posthumous collaborator on this book. Taya, who knew Chris better than anyone wrote a heartwarming forward and afterward and is dedicated to keeping Chris' legacy alive.
This book, according to Taya, is about American history and guns, two of Chris' major interests. "He wanted to show how everyday people used their firearms as tools to accomplish justice. This is really a book about people. When I spoke to the NRA I emphasized how guns are used for so much good including getting organic food, having friends and family spend time hunting together, and protecting women like myself. I am hoping anyone who reads this will see the positive uses of guns."
DeFelice, an author, historian, and gun buff, agrees that firearms are only tools. "The weapons themselves are neither good or evil which was emphasized in the chapter about the Thompson submachine gun. Guns can be used for evil but also used to stop evil. Just look at how a gun stopped the Boston and London terrorists. A gun can be used as a weapon, no different than a knife, or a pressure cooker, or a hammer. The problem is that in the wrong hands these tools become dangerous weapons. Chris was a big advocate of the Second Amendment and this comes out in American Gun."
Each chapter of the book offers engaging stories that are associated with a particular gun, and how it helped to shape American history. There are narratives of how certain firearms helped to win wars and battles from revolutionary times to the present day. In addition there are accounts of how guns were used by criminals and law enforcement. Everyone who reads this book will probably have their own favorites but below are just a few examples.
Doyle liked the chapter about the Spencer rifle, which included a fascinating account of Abraham Lincoln. He and Chris wanted to show how Presidents from George Washington to Thomas Jefferson to Andrew Jackson were "gun-savvy, but Lincoln took presidential involvement with gun technology to a new level. He was not just a novice but actually tested guns and made suggestions. Chris tells in the book how Lincoln became involved in selecting various guns used in the Civil War by firing them on a gun range that was in the back of the White House."
One of Taya's favorite chapters was about the American Long Rifle, because it included segments about the courageous actions during the Alamo and the battle for Texas. She loved how Chris told the story of Davy Crockett firing at the enemy, rarely missing his mark, and reloading, "seemingly indifferent to the shots fired at him." After the Alamo massacre, Sam Houston and eight hundred Texans waited for a time to strike Santa Anna's forces. Chris states, "On April 21st, 1836 at San Jacinto, Houston decided, it was time for payback, Texas-style... The Texans overwhelmed the Mexicans in a mere eighteen minutes... Not a bad day's work for Sam Houston and his riflemen. The battles of the Alamo and San Jacinto were crossroads battles, fought on the edges of several great eras of gun technology."
Jim DeFelice told American Thinker that he and Chris, while writing American Sniper, would go off topic to discuss Chris' fascination with the Old West, and how he referred to John Browning as the Leonardo de Vinci of firearms design, a mechanical genius. This included the Browning Rifle that was patented by the Winchester Repeating Arms Company. "Chris and I would talk about the winning formula for a gun, simple and tough. He valued practicality over sheer invention, which is why he did not choose to write about the American shotgun and the Smith & Wesson. He chose the Colt instead because it was very dependable. That was 100% Chris, making sure a gun was absolutely dependable all the time and easy to take along."
The epilogue explains the thinking behind the book, "There were terrible detours: injustices, unnecessary violence, and criminals who found a way to use evil for what should have been, what were, instruments of progress... Guns were just helpers, tools as they always are. Men and women did it. But the tools that men and women made, that they carried in their arms and slung on their backs, were a necessary and important part of the struggle."
Is it ironic that Chris was killed with a gun? Taya says no. "People will use a variety of tools to kill. The tool is not the issue. It's the morality of people who choose to commit murder that is the real issue. I hope people understand that the book was not intended to be, nor is it, a political statement in any way."
American Gun by Chris Kyle is a reflection of Chris' passion for American history and guns. He wrote mainly about the stories of the American heroes behind the firearms, those individuals that were caught in extraordinary situations. This book is a must read in that it is informative, insightful, and funny.
The author writes for American Thinker. She has done book reviews, author interviews, and has written a number of national security, political, and foreign policy articles.