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A fascinating history of the family behind the popular firearm that changed America and the world
Arguably the world’s most famous firearm, the Winchester Repeating Rifle was sought after by a cast of characters ranging from the settlers of the American West to the Ottoman Empire’s Army. Laura Trevelyan, a descendant of the Winchester family, offers an engrossing personal history of the colorful New England clan responsible for the creation and manufacture of the “Gun that Won the West.” Trevelyan chronicles the rise and fortunes of a great American arms dynasty, from Oliver Winchester’s involvement with the Volcanic Arms Company in 1855 through the turbulent decades of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. She explores the evolution of an iconic, paradigm-changing weapon that has become a part of American culture; a longtime favorite of collectors and gun enthusiasts that has been celebrated in fiction, glorified in Hollywood, and applauded in endorsements from the likes of Annie Oakley, Theodore Roosevelt, Ernest Hemingway, and Native American tribesmen who called it "the spirit gun."
"A riveting explanation of America's historic obsession with guns. . . . The book is beautifully illustrated, with fascinating photos of the Winchester family, and with well-known historical figures—including the Native American leader Geronimo and President Theodore Roosevelt—clutching their repeating rifles."—Gerri Kimber, Times Literary Supplement
"I’m often wary of family histories written by family members, but Laura Trevelyan, a New York correspondent for the BBC, has done a fine job with this detailed but accessible look at the life, times and commerce of Oliver Winchester—Trevelyan’s great great great grandfather—and his many descendants of both the human and firearms varieties. . . . Whether you’re a fan of firearms or simply of American history, there is much to enjoy and learn in this easy-to-read and well-footnoted volume."—Craig Hodgkins, American Shooting Journal
"[The Winchester] details the extraordinary life of Oliver Winchester, the company, and its rapid rise and slow fall as told by a distant family descendant and noted BBC anchor and correspondent."—John Buol, American Gunsmith
"Laura Trevelyan is one of the most brilliant journalists and incisive television presenters working in America today. She is also a very accomplished historian, and in this fascinating and vividly evocative book, she tells the story of her Winchester and Bennett forebears. From one perspective, this is an exemplary business history, of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company, of the rifles and shotguns it produced and sold in vast quantities, and of the rise, triumph and fall of one of America's greatest arms manufacturers. From another, it is an enthralling account of a famous New England dynasty, full of larger than life characters, both men and women. Deeply researched and beautifully written, this is an outstanding study of an iconic American firm and of an extraordinary American family."—Sir David Cannadine, Princeton University
"Who knew that the maker of the 'gun that won the west,' the Winchester '73, was a New Englander who began his career manufacturing shirts? The extraordinary life of Oliver Winchester and his company—and its rapid rise and slow and tragic fall into modern obscurity—is told gallantly and with great precision by a distant descendent, the noted BBC correspondent Laura Trevelyan. From Little Bighorn to the Winchester Mystery House—it is all there, a series of American icons sturdily described by a writer who, because of her ancestry, knows the story far better than most and tells it better than all."—Simon Winchester, author of Pacific: The Ocean of the Future