Lethal passage: how the travels of a single handgun expose the roots of America's gun crisis

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Crown Publishers, Jan 25, 1994 - Biography & Autobiography - 272 pages
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One bitter cold morning a sixteen-year-old boy named Nicholas Elliot walked into his Virginia high school with a Cobray M-11/9 - touted by its manufacturer as "the gun that made the eighties roar" - stuffed in his backpack. By mid-morning he had killed one teacher and severely wounded another. Only sheer luck kept his rampage from becoming one of the worst in America's long and bloody infatuation with guns. By tracing the history of the Cobray from its design and manufacture to the final, illegal transaction that placed it in Elliot's hands, Lethal Passage provides a stunning expose that will completely reframe the debate surrounding America's gun crisis. Erik Larson immersed himself in America's gun culture. He learned to shoot and to appreciate the sheer fun of the sport, and he even acquired a federal gun-dealer's license. In following Elliot's gun, he uncovered the lax regulations and skewed interest that have perpetuated handgun violence, which has grown to account for 22,000 deaths and thousands more injuries every year. He questions the political and economic forces that allowed the Cobray - originally designed as a battlefield weapon - to be marketed to the public. And he explores the broader cultural forces that nurture our fascination with violence and make gunshot death a routine feature of American life. Compelling, balanced, and timely, Lethal Passage pinpoints one important source of the violence. The Brady Bill may help reduce firearms violence, but its recent passage is only a small step toward stemming the unimpeded flow of guns to America's new generation of killers. Erik Larson offers realistic solutions to a crisis that has now reached epic proportions.

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LETHAL PASSAGE: How the Travels of a Single Handgun Expose the Roots of America's Gun Crisis

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

A frightening tour through America's gun culture by way of a single weapon — a semiautomatic hailed by its manufacturer as "the gun that made the '80s roar," and a single criminal — a troubled ... Read full review

Lethal passage: how the travels of a single handgun expose the roots of America's gun crisis

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

In this work, Larson interweaves the story of a boy and his gun (a 16-year-old who kills one teacher and wounds another with a member of the infamous MAC-10 family) with a study of the causes and ... Read full review


CHAPTER ONE Introduction
CHAPTER THREE The Lethal Landscape

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About the author (1994)

Erik Larson was born on January 3, 1954 in Freeport, Long Island. He studied Russian history at the University of Pennsylvania and graduated summa cum laude in 1976. After a year off, he attended the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, graduating in 1978. His first newspaper job was with The Bucks County Courier Times in Levittown, Pennsylvania, where he wrote about murder, witches, and environmental poisons. He is a former features writer for The Wall Street Journal and Time magazine, where he is still a contributing writer. His magazine stories have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, Harper's, and other publications. He is the author of Lethal Passage: The Story of a Gun and The Naked Consumer: How Our Private Lives Become Public Commodities . He has also written Isaac's Storm , about the experiences of Isaac Cline during the Galveston Hurricane of 1900, The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair That Changed America, about the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago and a series of murders by H. H. Holmes that were committed in the city around the time of the Fair, and Thunderstruck, which intersperses the story of Hawley Harvey Crippen with the story of Guglielmo Marconi and the invention of radio. Larson has taught non-fiction writing at San Francisco State, the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars, and the University of Oregon, and has spoken to audiences from coast to coast.