Her Best Shot: Women and Guns in America

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UNC Press Books, 2009 M09 15 - 304 pages
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The gun-toting woman holds enormous symbolic significance in American culture. For over two centuries, women who pick up guns have disrupted the popular association of guns and masculinity, spurring debates about women's capabilities for violence as well as their capacity for full citizenship. In Her Best Shot, Laura Browder examines the relationship between women and guns and the ways in which the figure of the armed woman has served as a lightning rod for cultural issues.

Utilizing autobiographies, advertising, journalism, novels, and political tracts, among other sources, Browder traces appearances of the armed woman across a chronological spectrum from the American Revolution to the present and an ideological spectrum ranging from the Black Panthers to right-wing militias. Among the colorful characters presented here are Deborah Sampson, who disguised herself as a man to fight in the American Revolution; Pauline Cushman, who posed as a Confederate to spy for Union forces during the Civil War; Wild West sure-shot Annie Oakley; African explorer Osa Johnson; 1930s gangsters Ma Barker and Bonnie Parker; and Patty Hearst, the hostage-turned-revolutionary-turned-victim. With her entertaining and provocative analysis, Browder demonstrates that armed women both challenge and reinforce the easy equation that links guns, manhood, and American identity.


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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - sojourner8 - LibraryThing

I picked up Laura Browder's book at my library on a whim. I'm not a proponent of guns yet the premise of her book intrigued me - as did the included photographs. Browder's writing is lean without ... Read full review


The News about Women and Guns
Narratives of Female Soldiers and Spies in the Civil War
2 Little Miss Sure Shot and Friends or How Armed Women Tamed the West
From the Gungirls of the 1920s to the Gangsters of the 1930s
4 Radical Women of the 1960s and 1970s
Race Mothers Warriors and the Surprising Case of Carolyn Chute
6 Armed Feminism or Family Values? Women and Guns Today

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About the author (2009)

Laura Browder is professor of English at Virginia Commonwealth University, where she teaches in the creative writing program. She is author of Rousing the Nation: Radical Culture in Depression America and Slippery Characters: Ethnic Impersonators and American Identities (from the University of North Carolina Press).

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