I recently picked this up. I've seen it mentioned here before but I thought I'd throw in my two cents as amateur book critic. Negative: Sweeny's writing style tends to be more casual conversational than scholarly or academic. But in my years of reading gun websites and books, I've noticed a certain writing style predominate among gun writers. Its hard to pin down, but you know it when you see it. Its best described as a tendency to mingle stats or facts with impressive-sounding personal anecdotes (i.e., "The 9mm is a fine defensive round, but if you're looking to kill more than just ballistic gel, go with the formidable and patriotic .45 ACP- it can drop a man or make him drop in his pants when he hears it warning him to reconsider his attack). Sweeny's other major flaw is that he tends to be wordy. Because of his habit of interjecting what would otherwise be pure scholarly research with personal anecdotes (and he does this a lot), his sentences often run on and on. But what he lacks in brevity he makes up for by making you feel like you're hanging out with him in his gun den, just talking guns. At first it annoyed me, but I eventually grew to appreciate it. The book also lacks an index. This vexed me greatly as I was looking (for example) to see how the Browing Hi-Power was received at the time compared to the 1911. Or to read specifically about the introduction of the .38 Super. Annoying! Positive: The pictures! In my recent years of gun fancy, I've tended to just surf the web for pics of that model I'm looking to buy. This book can keep your attention for hours, based on the pictures alone. Grab a scotch and just flip the pages! Not just plentiful pictures, but technically and aesthetically stunning. There are gorgeous shots of historically important guns, as well as a healthy dose of your staple "1911 resting on some WWII dog tags and camo" shots. This book is a pleasure to look at, even if you aren't much of a reader. The graphic layout is clean, modern, and uncluttered. Sweeny has certainly done his homework: there is a mountain of history in these pages. Its not a technical manual. It won't give you tips on doing a trigger job but it will tell you the historical reasons for why many 1911s needed one. He tours the Colt and S&W factories (something most of us only can dream about) and gives them a great write-up. Overall: Won't give you technical know-how or gun smithing tips. But for fans of history (or even fans of gun photography) this book is an absolute must. Sweeny's studious historical research is obscured a bit by his tendency to ramble. My one suggestion would be that his editor could make this book a bit leaner. But overall, I'd give it an "A."