"Best Business Narrative of 2020"
-STRATEGY + BUSINESS
“This rollicking and
informative account will
delight American history buffs.”
“Revolver, a lively biography of Samuel Colt...is an exemplary piece of research...Colt may have lived only 47 years, but he managed to pack in multiple lives during that brief span...Few will get much closer than Mr. Rasenberger has to this singular character... Revolver, written with a journalist’s sense of color and a historian’s eye for the revealing detail, is an exceptional biography of an archetypal 19th-century American inventor and businessman.” –Alexander Rose, WALL STREET JOURNAL
"[Colt's] missteps are as fascinating as his accomplishments, as described in Revolver: Sam Colt and the Six-Shooter That Changed America. Cleareyed and honest, Rasenberger portrays a complicated figure who combined real mechanical insight with a talent for hucksterism... Revolver is rewarding biography, highlighting Colt’s place in the history of industrialization."
–T.J. Stiles, NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW
“The story of how Colt raised himself from frontier huckster to great American industrialist is the subject of Jim Rasenberger’s lively and balanced new book.... Rasenberger’s narrative is, to a surprising degree, the story of America in the first half of the 19th century. It overflows with relentless ambition, energy, entrepreneurship, ingenuity and wealth, and with deceit, fraud, jingoism and murder.”
–Matthew C. Simpson, WASHINGTON POST
"The great gift of Revolver is that this story about a man who invented a gun is also a story about entrepreneurship, how America came to be, the dark side of innovation, and of course, why history matters."
–Bethany McLean, STRATEGY + BUSINESS
“Offering a panoramic view of American culture during Colt’s life, Rasenberger covers everything from bad poetry and cholera epidemics to the politics of slavery and Western expansion…Like most technologies, Colt’s revolving firearms did not take off until they found users, and it’s here that Rasenberger’s account most excels…Revolver helps us see…how Colt’s story and the story of his methods fit within the United States’s own imperial ambitions.”
–Lee Vinsel, L.A. REVIEW OF BOOKS
“Rasenberger deftly brings to life the man and his times in this gripping biography that does admirable work updating scholarship about Colt….The result is a very lively and informative book for every reader interested in American history and all of the nation’s flaws and virtues.”
"Historian Rasenberger (The Brilliant Disaster) chronicles the life and times of gunmaker Samuel Colt (1814–1862) in this colorful and richly digressive biography… Secondary figures, including Colt’s brother John, whose murder conviction inspired an Edgar Allan Poe story, are sketched with wit and precision. This rollicking and informative account will delight American history buffs.
“Vigorous life of Samuel Colt (1814-1862), the renowned and controversial inventor of the pistol that bears his name today ... With Colt’s invention, by popular historian and journalist Rasenberger’s account, two great forces met, one economic and the other demographic. Here was an invention more important than the mechanical reaper or cotton gin, one that, with all its murderous possibilities, gave specific force to Manifest Destiny and the conquest of the continent ... A solid blend of technological, economic, social, and popular history.”
“A welcome biography on the life of Samuel Colt (1814-1862), inventor of the Colt patent revolver and an innovator of the American system of manufacturing….Seeking to clarify previous conflicting biographical accounts, Rasenberger thoroughly documents his events from archival sources ... Colt’s powerful personality drives the narrative, showing his brilliant showmanship, family connections, occasional legerdemain, and aggressive political lobbying to force his business dream into a commercial success.
“The legendary Colt revolver played an outsized role in the violent conquest of the American West, and it lives on in the national psyche. But the remarkable story of its creator, Samuel Colt, one of the wealthiest and most influential figures of the nineteenth century United States, has been all but lost to history. Author Jim Rasenberger masterfully restores Sam Colt to his rightful place among the titans of American industry and drivers of American destiny in this rousing and riveting biography. A hard-drinking, prodigious womanizer, Colt suborned politicians and brutalized competitors to establish his place as a visionary creator of the American gun culture. Revolver brilliantly recreates Colt’s life and the tumultuous era in our nation’s history that he helped shape.”
–Peter Cozzens, author of THE EARTH IS WEEPING and SHENANDOAH 1862
“The extraordinary story of an extraordinary man in an extraordinary country. Sam Colt may not have made all men equal, but Jim Rasenberger’s Revolver leaves us all knowing so much more about our past. A well-researched, brilliantly written history.”
–Kevin Baker, author of AMERICA THE INGENIOUS
“Nothing screams ‘America!’ like the Colt revolver—the legendary six-shooter is as closely woven into the national fabric as baseball, apple pie, and immigration. This gobsmacking true story brings to life the rollicking tale of brash and muscular Sam Colt. The ‘revolver man’ was filled with contradictions—just like the young republic his six-shooters came to represent. A heartfelt western hat-tip to Jim Rasenberger for bringing us the definitive tale.” –Gregory Crouch, author of THE BONANZA KING
“Sam Colt, quirky entrepreneur and era-defining tycoon, is one of American history’s most colorful characters. How can you not like someone who sells hits of laughing gas to the American public in order to finance his gun factories? Rasenberger captures this and other details in this comprehensive biography.” –S.C. Gwynne, author of EMPIRE OF THE SUMMER MOON and HYMNS OF THE REPUBLIC
“Colt: Can there be another bearer of a name so famous whose career is so little known? Which is all the more puzzling given what an astonishing career it was. But now Jim Rasenberger puts matters to rights with his wonderfully vivid biography. Not only are we offered a story of the highest historical consequence, but one full of suspense, surprises, scurrility, and bad faith alongside heroic dedication to a nation-changing technology, tangy gossip, and an 1840s murder trial whose lurid details still have the power to shock. Revolver is every bit as entertaining as it is valuable.” –Richard Snow, author of DISNEY'S LAND and IRON DAWN