Mr. Gatling's Terrible Marvel Summary and Reviews

Mr. Gatling's Terrible Marvel

The Gun That Changed Everything and the Misunderstood Genius Who Invented It

by Julia Keller

Mr. Gatling's Terrible Marvel by Julia Keller
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  • Published in USA  May 2008
    304 pages
    Genre: Biographies/Memoirs

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Book Summary

Although it was little used during the American Civil War—the time in which it was invented—the Gatling gun soon changed the nature of warfare and the course of world history. Discharging two hundred shots per minute with alarming accuracy, the world’s first machine gun became vitally important to protecting and expanding America’s overseas interests. Its inventor, Richard Gatling, was famous in his own time for creating and improving many industrial designs, from bicycles and steamship propellers to flush toilets. A man of great business and scientific acumen, Gatling actually proposed his gun as a way of saving lives, thinking it would decrease the size of armies and, therefore, make it easier to supply soldiers and reduce malnutrition deaths. The scientists who unleashed America’s atomic arsenal less than a century later would see it much the same way.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Keller rescues Gatling and anchors his remarkable life firmly in the landscape of 19th-century America: a time and place of 'egalitarian hope and infinite possibility.' " - Publishers Weekly.

"Overheated prose only slightly mars this colorful portrait of an under-appreciated American inventor and his times." - Kirkus Reviews.

"With a rat-a-tat pace and a wicked sense of humor, Julia Keller uses the story of Gatling's famous machine-gun to take us on an exuberant and entertaining tour through American capitalism in the nineteenth-century. This book is a carnival for history buffs – bursting with colorful characters, uncanny connections, and contagious enthusiasm." - Debby Applegate, winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher.

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Author Information

Julia Keller Author Biography

Keller graduated from Marshall University, and later obtained a doctoral degree in English literature at Ohio State University. She was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard, and she has taught at the University of Chicago, Notre Dame, and Princeton. During her journalism career, she worked at The Ashland Daily Independent in Ashland, Ky.; The Columbus Dispatch in Columbus, Ohio; and The Chicago Tribune.

In 2005, she won the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing for a three-part narrative series.

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