Book Review (Speaking of History...)

Field & Stream deputy editor (and regular book-reviewer) David E. Petzal just sent me his verdict on the new paperback version of Her Best Shot: Women and Guns in America by Laura Browder. The book explores gun culture in general, not just hunting, and I've found it a useful read (I wouldn't be surprised if a few of us have seen it, actually), and I was really interested in Mr. Petzal's take (plus, I just love reading anything Dave writes). -K.H.

 If you read Laura Browder's book, you will learn that: For a very long time, a great many American[![Book](http://fieldandstream.blogs.com/fshuntress/images/2008/03/24/book.jpg)](http://fieldandstream.blogs.com/photos/uncategorized/2008/03/24/book.jpg) women have been very good with guns, and American men have not been particularly happy about it. This mixture of shooting and sociology is interesting almost in spite of itself. Ms. Browder is an academic (a professor of English at Virginia Commonwealth University), and writes like one. On the other hand, because she is an academic, she has really done her research, and the material here is unusual, interesting, and thought-provoking.   
 _Her Best Shot_ is a sociological study of women in American history whose lives have been intertwined with guns for good or bad. They begin with Deborah Sampson who cross-dressed and fought (not carried water; fought) in the Revolution, Annie Oakley, Calamity Jane, Ma Barker, Bonnie Parker, Patty Hearst, and the writer and militiawoman Carolyn Chute. Plus others, both famous and forgotten.   
 Of these, Bonnie Parker may be the most interesting. She was something of a genius at self-promotion, and Clyde Barrow would have died as just another anonymous hood had he not met her. They worked tirelessly to promote themselves, but their greatest fame came when police found, developed, and published a series of "gun-toting moll" photos the couple had taken as a gag. And according to Bonnie's mother, her daughter loved babies, and often tried to borrow one for a day or two.   
 _Her Best Shot_ is filled with fascinating history that has largely been lost or ignored -- until now. It's $29.95, paperback, from [uncpress.unc.edu](http://uncpress.unc.edu/default.htm) . -D.E.P.