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Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group


The Gun That Changed America

Karen Blumenthal

Roaring Brook Press


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.

CCBC Choice (Univ. of WI)



THE GUN THAT SHOOK ELIZABETH, New Jersey, was roughly the size of a new baby, eight-and-a-half pounds unloaded and 23.2 inches long without its stock. In less than a minute, it...

Praise for Tommy

“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

Reviews from Goodreads

Karen Blumenthal

Karen Blumenthal is an award-winning children's non-fiction writer and a longtime journalist. She previously wrote about the 1920s and 1930s in Bootleg: Murder, Moonshine, and the Lawless Years of Prohibition, a YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults Award finalist, and Six Days in October: The Stock Market Crash of 1929, a Sibert Honor Book. She lives in Dallas, Texas.

Roaring Brook Press

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