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The Kalashnikov AK-47 is the most ubiquitous assault rifle in the world, with more AK-47s and its variants in use than any other individual small arm. Created by Senior Sergeant Mikhail Kalashnikov, and first adopted by the USSR soon after World War II (1939-1945), its production continues to this day, with an estimated 75 million produced worldwide. It is the longest serving post-World War II military weapon and its ease of use, durability and low production costs ensure that its use will continue for generations to come.

This book takes a look at the complete history of the weapon, discussing its design, development, and usage, taking its story from the great armies of the Soviet Union to the insurgents and criminal gangs that often employ the weapon today.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
Published: Random House Publishing Group on May 24, 2011
ISBN: 9781849088350
List price: $15.95
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With over 75 million units of the AK-47 family produced, it is by far the world's most successful assault rifle. The M16's 8 millions only pale in comparison. For those like me for whom The Gun, C. J. Chivers recent book about the same topic, is too long a read about a sideshow, this Osprey Weapon volume is a welcome addition. Beautifully illustrated (The only missing technical part is an illustration about a fully disassembled AK-47.), it offers a good history of the invention of the AK-47. I didn't know about the large German influence on its development. The Soviets essentially perfected a German concept: Offering an infantryman massive short-range burst firepower (i.e. a highly portable small scale machine gun). Rugged and light (at 3,5 kg the AK-47 is over 2 kg lighter than the Swiss StGw 57 - a crucial difference to an infantryman). The 1956 revolution in Hungary saw the AK-47 in action. But it was the Vietnam War that established its global prominence. There it was encountered in action by the book's author. This encounter unfortunately flavors and taints the narrative of this book. The author's politics unnecessarily invade the book. Some of his statements are particularly atrocious and inappropriate such as "In Latin America, Marxist ideology emphasizes equality of the sexes." Those awful Marxists, caring about the equality of the sexes. Thankfully, the good old US of A does not care about this Marxist stuff. The author's crypto-conservative baggage should have been eliminated from the text as should have been the disparaging comments about Third World countries. A diligent reader might note that the George Bush administration allowed both Americans and Iraqis to own AK-47. A liberty they didn't have before.It wouldn't be Osprey, if it didn't include translation howlers: One shouldn't translate "Compania Anonima Venezolana de Industrias Militares" as "Anonymous Venezuelan Company of Military Industries". This doesn't make any sense at all! How can a company ever be anonymous? Its "firma" is its primary distinction and raison d'être. "Compania Anonima" or its French equivalent "société anonyme" just indicate that the owners of a corporation accept no personal liability beyond the shares contributed. A correct translation is "Venezuelan Military Industries Inc.".read more
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With over 75 million units of the AK-47 family produced, it is by far the world's most successful assault rifle. The M16's 8 millions only pale in comparison. For those like me for whom The Gun, C. J. Chivers recent book about the same topic, is too long a read about a sideshow, this Osprey Weapon volume is a welcome addition. Beautifully illustrated (The only missing technical part is an illustration about a fully disassembled AK-47.), it offers a good history of the invention of the AK-47. I didn't know about the large German influence on its development. The Soviets essentially perfected a German concept: Offering an infantryman massive short-range burst firepower (i.e. a highly portable small scale machine gun). Rugged and light (at 3,5 kg the AK-47 is over 2 kg lighter than the Swiss StGw 57 - a crucial difference to an infantryman). The 1956 revolution in Hungary saw the AK-47 in action. But it was the Vietnam War that established its global prominence. There it was encountered in action by the book's author. This encounter unfortunately flavors and taints the narrative of this book. The author's politics unnecessarily invade the book. Some of his statements are particularly atrocious and inappropriate such as "In Latin America, Marxist ideology emphasizes equality of the sexes." Those awful Marxists, caring about the equality of the sexes. Thankfully, the good old US of A does not care about this Marxist stuff. The author's crypto-conservative baggage should have been eliminated from the text as should have been the disparaging comments about Third World countries. A diligent reader might note that the George Bush administration allowed both Americans and Iraqis to own AK-47. A liberty they didn't have before.It wouldn't be Osprey, if it didn't include translation howlers: One shouldn't translate "Compania Anonima Venezolana de Industrias Militares" as "Anonymous Venezuelan Company of Military Industries". This doesn't make any sense at all! How can a company ever be anonymous? Its "firma" is its primary distinction and raison d'être. "Compania Anonima" or its French equivalent "société anonyme" just indicate that the owners of a corporation accept no personal liability beyond the shares contributed. A correct translation is "Venezuelan Military Industries Inc.".
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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