This is a fascinating book, well written, and well researched.
via The New York Times:
The Flesh and Blood Behind the AK-47
It is no accident that C. J. Chivers opens “The Gun,” his bold history of the AK-47, not with the loud crack that is the report of the rifle but with the monstrous bang of the first detonation of a Soviet nuclear bomb. As Mr. Chivers’s detailed history then skirts as far back as the United States Civil War and brings us right up to the current conflict in Afghanistan, the message of his prologue is clear: For all that the escalating cold war shaped the last 60 years, no one was ever killed in conflict by a Russian nuke. By contrast untold millions have been wounded and killed by the AK-47 and related weapons, as they have proliferated and mutated from tools of engineering ingenuity, honestly wrought in defense of the socialist motherland, to the firearm of choice for both oppressor and oppressed.