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John Taliaferro Thompson had a mission: to develop a lightweight, fast-firing weapon that would help Americans win on the battlefield. His Thompson submachine gun could deliver a hundred bullets in a matter of seconds—but didn't find a market in the U.S. military. Instead, the Tommy gun became the weapon of choice for a generation of bootleggers and bank-robbing outlaws, and became a deadly American icon. Following a bloody decade—and eighty years before the mass shootings of our own time—Congress moved to take this weapon off the streets, igniting a national debate about gun control. Critically-acclaimed author Karen Blumenthal tells the fascinating story of this famous and deadly weapon—of the lives it changed, the debate it sparked, and the unprecedented response it inspired.
About the Author
Karen Blumenthal (1959-2020) was a financial journalist and editor whose career included five years with The Dallas Morning News and twenty-five with The Wall Street Journal—where her work helped earn the paper a Pulitzer Prize for its breaking news coverage of the September 11, 2001 attacks—before becoming an award-winning children’s non-fiction book writer.
Three of her books, Hillary Rodham Clinton: A Woman Living History, Steve Jobs: The Man Who Thought Different, and Bootleg: Murder, Moonshine, and the Lawless Years of Prohibition, were finalists for the YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults Award.
Karen was also the author of Six Days in October: The Stock Market Crash of 1929 (named a Sibert Honor Book), Let Me Play: The Story of Title IX (winner of the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award), Tommy: The Gun That Changed America, Bonnie and Clyde: The Making of a Legend, and Jane Against the World: Roe v. Wade and the Fight for Reproductive Rights.
“Lively prose, well-selected photographs, and thorough source notes round out this fine work. A gripping look at guns, gangsters, and finding the 'right balance between individual freedoms and community safety'.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“[An] accessible social history, which encompasses military weaponry, gangster warfare, and gun-control legislation.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Peppered with action-filled scenes and period photographs...This thoroughly researched, compulsive read is another
Blumenthal winner. A bang-up look at American history.” —Booklist, starred review
“Blumenthal breathes life into this seemingly off-putting subject. . . this action-packed title will hold the attention of reluctant readers and history buffs alike.” —School Library Journal, starred review
“In this biography of a gun and the times in which it lived, Blumenthal traces the Thompson submachine gun, a.k.a. the Tommy. . . With thorough research and impeccable documentation, [Blumenthal] shows the complexity of gun culture, leaving more questions than answers concerning contemporary use and misuse of firearms and the future of Second Amendment battles.” —Horn Book
“A great story well told.” —The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books