Monday, January 25, 2010

Book Review: Deadly Force by Chris McNab

I'm a member of Librarything, a web site that makes it easy to catalog books.   One of the auxiliary features is an Early Review program, where in exchange for promising a review, you get free books.

The first book I received is "Deadly Force:  Firearms and American Law Enforcement" by Chris McNab--several months later than promised, so I was slightly confused at first when it did show.

Overall I enjoyed the book--It is basically a history of American law enforcement, with an emphasis on the evolving standards for use of force, with chapters on various eras.    It describes the changes in use of force, evolving from relying almost entirely on the individual officer's judgement to todays written policies.

McNab acknowledges a debt to Massad Ayoob--a necessity, since several long portions of Deadly Force recount incidents covered in "The Ayoob Files", a book on modern gunfights.

There are quite a few interesting charts and statistics.  However, this leads to my major complaint--In areas where I am familiar enough to spot errors, I have found many, leading me to doubt the areas where I am less familiar.  My copy is an "uncorrected proof"--not being familiar with the publishing process, I don't know if these errors are likely to be corrected in the final copy.   The book reads like a rough draft rather than almost ready for publication.

In discussing gun law, he counts both the 1986 Hughes Amendment (banning civilian ownership of newly manufactured or imported machine guns) and elements of the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban as being enacted as part of the 1968 Gun Control Act.  

In many cases, he uses terms with unclear meanings, without enough context--It took me some time to understand whether "police homicide" was referring to death of police, or death caused by them.  He continually uses the term "Assault Rifle"  without specifying that he is not  using the original "machine gun" definition, and refers to an SKS rifle in a particular incident as an "AKS Assault rifle".  

In some cases he is using technical information for dramatic effect--Unfortunately, in some cases he gets the information drastically wrong, as in describing a Taser as having 5000 volts of current--not only are tasers generally 50,000 volts or more, current is measured in amps.

With significantly better fact checking, this would be a very good book.

1 comment:

  1. Librarything is one of my favorite sites. I'd sign up for the ARCs but my TBR pile is already enormous.

    I'm always disappointed when I discover that an author hasn't done sufficient research for his/her subject.

    In this case, I'm dismayed that he's bandying the term "assault rifle." I think that's part of the fear factor with regard to firearms--the blacker and bulkier they are, the more dangerous they are? Come on. It's got a barrel, a receiver, and a stock. It shoots.

    My current soapbox subject (I don't think you can work in this business without stepping on one from time to time) is about the Ruger SR22. It's a pimped out 10/22! Same dang gun, but it looks "assault-y." argh.

    Authors such as McNab are furthering the misconception regarding firearms and that just makes me tired.

    (This is GunShopGoddess, btw. Thanks for your comment on my blog.)