The Daily Review looks at Gun Baby Gun: ‘well written’, ‘really interesting’, ‘very important to read’…
The book was reviewed by the Daily Review – a book club review website in Australia. It was a mixed review, but I think it is better for the soul to concentrate on those comments that flatter and better for my future writing to concentrate on those comments that did not.
So, soulfully, they said “a really interesting overview coupled with some fascinating personal stories”; “well written”; “He was extremely thorough and not American which gave him some objectivity and credibility”; “I really enjoyed Gun Baby Gun. It was intense … I felt it was very important to read.”
If the reviewers read this – thank you for taking your time to read the book. Your comments were appreciated and, I hope, will give me something to learn from if I write another book.
Gun Baby Gun sees investigative journalist Iain Overton take an eye-opening journey to more than 25 countries; from South Africa to Iceland, Honduras to Cambodia, exploring the impact of guns.
Overton meets people affected by guns from all walks of life — porn stars appearing as snipers in XXX films, Zionist anti-terror gun trainers, gangland killers from El Salvador and South African doctors working with gunshot victims.
Described as ‘harrowing and sobering’ Daily Review Book Club members share their take onGun Baby Gun (Allen & Unwin) and its look at society’s complex attitudes to firearms.
Susan: As a book all about guns, their history, uses, and impact, I thought Gun Baby Gun was a really interesting overview coupled with some fascinating personal stories. I really enjoyed the book, in particular the stats about about the survival rates of non-fatal gun shots. They’re actually quite good odds!
Belinda: The book was certainly an interesting read. Overton sought to tackle the subject under the themes of “Pain, Power, Pleasure, and Profit” which provided some structure. At the same time, I felt he was also wanting it to be more like his autobiography.
Janine: It was well written, the author seems to have some significant cred as an investigative journalist and invested a lot of time and emotion in putting this together. I enjoyed it and found the structure particularly interesting, if somewhat repetitive. At numerous points though I thought, ‘Hang on, I’ve been here before’.
Belinda: It was odd wasn’t it? It felt like he was forcing structure into a fairly unstructured/emotional story at times.
Susan: The emotional stories really kept me interested in the rest.
Paul: The author has a clear understanding of guns and the issues related to them. I thought it was quite balanced, particularly given he was a gun user/sports shooter when he was younger and clearly had experience with guns in many other situations. I did find the whole thing to be a bit depressing, as there appears to be no hope for anyone unless you live in Greenland… or was it Iceland?
Janine: It was Iceland, everyone’s a gunslinger but no-one dies.
Susan: Paul, I’m surprised. I found the book quite reassuring.
Paul: Reassuring if you want to move to Iceland, Susan?
Janine: Reassuring in what sense Susan?
Susan: The gun shot survival rates and also the measures being put in place to prevent people from using their gun as an emotional response. Facts also like the drop in access to guns was not followed by a rise in other forms of suicide, for example (in the Suicide chapter). What did disturb me was the chapters on the gun manufacturers and pro-gun lobbyists!
Paul: The statement kept appearing throughout: more guns means more murder, more suicide, more violence. When you read that there is virtually no way to control the number of guns made, used, sold, trafficked throughout the world — I found it all quite terrifying.
Janine: I found it intriguing that Americans are so paranoid and are more likely to kill themselves in the first 12 months of having a gun, or be involved in a gun related homicide once they have a gun.
Susan: That’s right Janine….and you’re more likely to be shot by a family member!
Belinda: Susan – I found those facts in the Suicide chapter fascinating too.
Paul: My favourite (?!) part was reading that Starbucks allowed carrying weapons in their stores in the US!
Susan: …and teachers to carry guns? That’s scary!
Paul: …and trying to protect students in US schools by developing bullet-proof blankets. This thinking appeared over and over that guns are part of the culture and there should be ways to protect yourself from them — rather than limit access to them.
Susan: Paul, that is the most terrifying thing…the cultural acceptance.
Janine: Definitely better odds these days on the battlefield though, and the history aspects of the book were interesting in terms of how many soldiers used to die from a lack of understanding about how to treat a gun wound.
Poor souls having boiling water poured on them and dodging sticks being poked around inside them to find shrapnel back in the day.
The section on child soldiers was very disturbing, especially the girl forced to make stew out of someone then taste test it before her fellow child rebels would partake. Confronting!
Paul: While it was interesting to read about the battle field mortality rates and war zones, the areas that had by far the most impact on me were the domestic ones.
It’s almost as if we feel this is all inevitable, as if men somehow deserve their painful and lonely deaths at the hand of a gun. Guns in situations and environments that they should not be (in).
Belinda: I found the chapter about child soldiers completely chilling, just awful! In a lot of ways, this is not about guns but about conflict in general (and the author’s interesting career).
Did anyone else notice the author’s tone when discussing women in some of the chapters? For me it started with an unnecessary comment about sex workers right at the start… ‘They knew what work really was and they whistled and plucked at the sleeve of men…’.
Also in the final section: ‘His wife, Karen Kollitides, seems aspirational, too Blonde, groomed in a particular way….’. The chapter on the sex convention in Vegas was also, obviously, a bit sleazy.
Paul: I did think the interview with a porn actor seemed a bit unnecessary.
Belinda: I agree Paul, and another reason it felt for me like the theme of guns really was just a way for the author to tell his story.
Janine: I found it interesting that that the author demonstrated a reasonable amount of detachment until it came to the question of hunting, and his compulsion to hunt something for the sake of the book. On the one hand he ‘found it sickening’, but still posed for the obligatory photo with the felled animal.
Belinda: Yes Janine, I was surprised by that photo!
Susan: The key take away for me in Gun Baby Gun was the incredible profits that gun manufacturers are making — not only from gun sales but also from things like health care. It all seems so completely unregulated and almost given permission to be dodgy.
Susan: It did occur to me at one stage that maybe Overton had taken stories that he’d already done and shaped them to fit the gun theme.
Paul: I agree with that. The chapter where he talked about when he had been held up at gun point three times was a good read but was a bit out of character with some of the more statistical factual areas of the book. It also seemed like the author had, only through this book, decided to really detest guns.
Belinda: I think the author was a reliable person to investigate the obsession with guns.
He was relatively objective but him using this book to also tell the story of his career meant some of his commentary came with a fair dose of ego, in my opinion.
Paul: He was extremely thorough and not American which gave him some objectivity and credibility. And he did acknowledge when writing about the NRA that he was doing the same as them and spinning the message he wanted to present.
Janine: I agree with Susan that he may have cobbled a few stories together from other expeditions and then tacked on a few more to flesh it out. I think that’s partly why the structure seemed fractured, and he kept jumping back to certain country visits to explore a different point.
I felt like I was at the gun show at least three times!” Paul, I think he was quite measured about the NRA, all things considered. Perhaps he was afraid they’d pump some lead in his arse?
Belinda: Did you find the author likeable? I was very curious about Overton as a person after reading this book and have spent a fair bit of time Googling him since finishing. Interestingly, the book has a different title in the US… The Way Of The Gun. Wonder why?
Susan: I think he had some great stories…but came across as a bit awkward though? Sometimes his interviews made it seem like he was struggling.
Janine: I found him quite clinical Belinda, until he got to the bit about hunting and vegetarianism and people who oppose hunting but eat meat being a bit stupid. I didn’t really pick up on his treatment of women in the writing, except perhaps when he was surprised to find the good looking German (or Russian?) making bespoke guns.
Paul: Did anyone see the comments by a US politician last week referencing Port Arthur? He said that the Australian Government banning automatic and semi automatic weapons had seen an increase in violent attacks on women in because they had no ability to defend themselves anymore. This was then proven to be completely false. I’m not reporting this very well… point is, the book seems to be very accurate.
Janine: I didn’t see that Paul but I have heard John Howard lauded previously for the measures he took after Port Arthur ;
Belinda: All in all, I found the book fascinating with significant depth and a unique take on a topic that has been done to death (no pun intended) in the media. Part autobiographical part documentary.
Janine: This is not the kind of book I would usually read. It didn’t infuriate me as much as I thought it would. It was a reasonably measured overview (and seemingly well researched, even if he was rehashing some stuff from other expeditions), with the right measure of personal stories to balance all of the statistics and keep it interesting.
Susan: I think Australia not having the same access and problems with guns that they have in America is a really great thing that I felt was reinforced by this read (not that I needed the reinforcement of that idea!). I would recommend it to anyone that has an interest in guns and their impact. I thought it was very interesting and at times a compelling read.
Paul: I really enjoyed Gun Baby Gun. It was intense and quite demoralising but I felt it was very important to read. It would be good for teenagers to read (am I sounding like a dad?). The scale of the madness repeated over and over was shocking and demonstrated how bad this issue is. It did not offer much hope and it validated my own views, but I think it is an important book to read and to discuss.
Susan: I read American Sniper straight after. Much, much scarier…. terrifying in fact!
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