Rachel Wadham


Excellent, Intermediate, Young Adult, Karen Blumenthal, Guns, Nonfiction, Outlaws, Gangsters, 20th Century, Thompson Submachine Gun

Document Type

Book Review


The Tommy Gun, immortalized by texts and films realizing the gangster and outlaw era of the United States, is known by many but few really understand its whole history. Blumenthal seeks to change this in her accessible “biography” of the guns invention, rise to fame, and its overall influence on the world. John Thompson was determined to create a lightweight gun that could fire fast for use by soldiers on the battlefield. Delays in development prevented his gun from being ready for use during World War I, but its compact size and its ability to spray hundreds of bullets a second made it the favorite weapon for the bootleggers and outlaws for the 20s and 30s. As the weapon of choice for some of the most famous names of the time from Capone to Dillinger the guns infamous history has made it an American icon.