We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Richard Gatling believed that his rapid-fire gun would be a boon to mankind.
A quote from a review of the book on the right by Jonathan Yardley in the WaPo:
'It occurred to me,' he wrote to a friend in 1877, 'that if I could invent a machine -- a gun -- which could by rapidity of fire, enable one man to do as much battle duty as a hundred, that it would, to a great extent, supersede the necessity of large armies, and consequently, exposure to battle and disease be greatly diminished.' As disingenuous and self-serving as that sentiment sounds, it ended up being quite correct: Innovations in arms steadily reduced the relative lethality of battles (not to mention the cost of waging war) throughout the twentieth century."
Last time I was at Fort Indiantown Gap, I saw Galting's terrible gun in action - on the nose of an A-10. That huge unmistakable ripping noise means the Warthog is about to get some. Five or seconds later, hundreds of explosions rip through the impact area. The last thing many Hajis ever heard.
I read the whole article at the WaPo and have kind of mixed feelings about the reviewer's thoughts. The reviewer seems a bit more jaundiced than does the writer of the book.
(However, from his examples of her prose, I will agree with his critique of her style.)
Yeah, the Gatling Gun is pretty fearsome weapon, but I think we all too often forget how horrible battle has ALWAYS been. I can't really imagine that charging into a massed company of rifleman in the Civil War was somehow less fearsome than Gatling's gun.
The reviewer's comment (partially quoted from the book) "'men, women, and children were like stalks of wheat beneath a scythe,' mowed down with total disregard for their individuality" -- I guess that's the difference between modern genocide and ancient genocide. One supposes that ancient warriors might have better regarded the individuality of the civilians that they cut down or starved in say ... Carthage. (Starvation is much better than Gatling's gun for killing civilians.)
Modern combat is, if anything, less lethal than it has been in the past. (Granted, the reviewer does acknowledge this.)
Consider the great battles of the past where THOUSANDS of men were slain in a few days using nothing but swords or early cannon and firearms. Remember Thermopylae, Plataea, Granicus, Lepanto, etc. (Although I'd opt for neither, an abdominal 5.56 wound is probably a lot more survivable than an abdominal wound inflicted by a Roman short sword.)
Furthermore the reviewer's comment "bore only passing resemblance to the modern machine gun" is somewhat misleading. While modern small arms "machine guns" are not based on Gatling's gun, we do employ a modern version of his weapon to great effect (as noted by NJSoldier, above).