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The Guns of John Moses Browning

The Remarkable Story of the Inventor Whose Firearms Changed the World

The first major biography of “the Thomas Edison of guns,” John Moses Browning, a visionary inventor who designed the modern handgun and whose awe-inspiring array of firearms helped ensure victory in numerous American wars and found an important place in American culture.

Few people are aware that John Moses Browning—a tall, humble, cerebral man born in 1855 and raised as a Mormon in the American West—was the mind behind many of the world-changing firearms that dominated more than a century of conflict. He invented the crucial design used in virtually all modern pistols, created the most popular hunting rifles and shotguns, and conceived the machine guns that proved decisive not just in World Wars I and II but nearly every major military action since. Yet few in America knew his name until he was into his sixties.

Now, author Nathan Gorenstein brings firearms inventor John Moses Browning to vivid life in this riveting and revealing biography. Embodying the tradition of self-made, self-educated geniuses (like Lincoln and Edison), Browning was able to think in three dimensions (he never used blueprints) and his gifted mind produced everything from the famous Winchester “30-30” hunting rifle to the awesomely effective machine guns used by every American aircraft and infantry unit in World War II. The British credited Browning’s guns with helping to win the Battle of Britain.

His inventions illustrate both the good and bad of weapons.

Sweeping, lively, and brilliantly told, this fascinating book introduces a little-known American legend whose impact on history ranks with that of the Wright Brothers, Thomas Edison, and Henry Ford.

Photograph by Becca Flemer.

Nathan Gorenstein is a former reporter and editor for The Philadelphia Inquirer, where he covered city and state politics and produced a wealth of groundbreaking work. He was previously a reporter for the Wilmington News Journal, where he led coverage of Sen. Joseph Biden’s first presidential campaign. He is also the author of Tommy Gun Winter, the story of a Boston gang from the 1930s that included an MIT graduate, a minister’s daughter, and two of Gorenstein’s own relatives. He currently lives in Philadelphia.