Tommy: The Gun That Changed America
Roaring Brook Press, June 2015
books for young people
Karen Blumenthal Facebook Karen Blumenthal Twitter
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. Here's the fascinating story of this famous and deadly weapon—of the lives it changed, the debate it sparked, and the unprecedented response it inspired.

awards and honors
Booklist Editors' Choice
CCBC Choices 2016
Chicago Public Library,
  Best Informational Books—Older Readers, 2015
Junior Library Guild selection
King County Library System, 2015 Best Books for Teens
New York Public Library, Best Books for Teens, 2015
Nonfiction Detectives, Best Nonfiction Books of 2015
Texas TAYSHAS List

book extensions
discussion guide for book clubs and classrooms

starred review “A gripping look at guns, gangsters, and finding the 'right balance between individual freedom and community safety.'” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

starred review “The Thompson rapid-firing submachine gun is the crux of Blumenthal’s accessible social history, which encompasses military weaponry, gangster warfare, and gun-control legislation…. an engrossing and grisly account…” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

starred review“This thoroughly researched, compulsive read is another
Blumenthal winner. A bang-up look at American history.” —Booklist, starred review

starred review“This action-packed title will hold the attention of reluctant readers and history buffs alike.” —School Library Journal, starred review

“Those who pay even passing interest to the news will find early iterations of current issues throughout Tommy gun’s story: financiers’ narrow interests in sales; gun sales to foreign governments; gun smuggling to paramilitary organizations; licensing and registration policies; evolving interpretations of the Second Amendment. Chapter notes and a thematic bibliography will assist researchers, but expect that many teens will read this simply as a great story well told.” —Bulletin for the Center for Children's Books

“Rather than simply lamenting the ubiquity of guns (currently about 300 million in the United States alone), Blumenthal explains how we got to this point and raises wise questions about the challenges that lie ahead.” —The Washington Post

back to books for young people

buy this book
barnes & noble
local bookseller
listening library
Website copyright 2011- Karen Blumenthal. All rights reserved. Privacy Policy. Site designed by Winding Oak.
Materials on this website may be copied for classroom or library use but may not be reprinted or resold for commercial purposes.