Read Melancholy Accidents: Three Centuries of Stray Bullets and Bad Luck by Peter Manseau Online

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Did you know that fatal gun mishaps have been so common in America that for centuries, newspapers carried regular columns reporting on “melancholy accidents”?It came as a surprising discovery when, while conducting research that involved reading colonial-era newspapers, acclaimed writer Peter Manseau stumbled upon one report after another of “melancholy accidents”—instanceDid you know that fatal gun mishaps have been so common in America that for centuries, newspapers carried regular columns reporting on “melancholy accidents”?It came as a surprising discovery when, while conducting research that involved reading colonial-era newspapers, acclaimed writer Peter Manseau stumbled upon one report after another of “melancholy accidents”—instances of local people accidentally discharging firearms to disastrous results.Usually, they were brief items, with the concision of dark poetry—hunting accidents, neighbor shooting neighbor, father shooting son. Dark as they were, they were also often bizarre and fascinating—such as the case of one farmer who, trying out his new musket, shot it at his barn, hitting a door hinge that split the musket ball in two, with each half ricochetting off to hit a different, distant person, each of whom was a doctor.In Melancholy Accidents, Manseau collects and annotates a wide-ranging assortment of these woebegone and oddly intimate reports, with numerous illustrations, photos, and visuals from original period newspapers. It makes for a wholly unique contribution to the ongoing consideration of—and the recent heated discussion about—the historic place of firearms in American society....

Title : Melancholy Accidents: Three Centuries of Stray Bullets and Bad Luck
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781612195063
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 240 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Melancholy Accidents: Three Centuries of Stray Bullets and Bad Luck Reviews

  • Jim
    2019-01-28 07:58

    This little book was a very quick read. It's a book with an agenda, an axe to grind if you will. From Mr Manseau's introduction it is plain that if he is not anti-gun he is at least anti-proliferation of guns, although he seems quite moderate in his presentation. He has culled reports of accidental shootings or "melancholy accidents" verbatim from newspapers and these are reproduced chronologically from 1739 to 1916. I'm glad he didn't carry on into the current century because, quite frankly, the book was getting repetitive.It's not that the book wasn't interesting: as a shooter and gun owner myself I am keen on gun safety and the recklessness chronicled in these pages set my teeth on edge! You will be amazed at the frequency with which dogs assassinate their masters! There are so many instances of ladies shooting themselves with pistols and boys shooting their mothers with "empty" guns that the head reels. It seems that an accidental discharge never fails to find flesh. In fact, reading this got me to thinking about my own shooting acquaintances, and I realized with shock that I personally know three men who have shot themselves in their own extremities through negligent use of firearms. Happily, all survived their own carelessness.Some things perhaps should have been pointed out to the reader: first, that the time period covered in the book spanned the era of muzzle-loading firearms; it is hard for a shooter to tell if an old front-stuffer is loaded or empty. Secondly, I would have liked to have had him put it all in perspective. People are killed and injured in all sports, often in numbers far exceeding deaths and injuries by shooting. A few years ago in one Canadian province it was determined that the most dangerous sport was fishing, presumably because of boating mishaps. And automobiles kill vastly more people than firearms without anyone raising the tiniest suggestion that motorized vehicles be banned. Statistically, in the USA you are more likely to die from choking on a hotdog than from being shot.I don't want to trivialize. Manseau makes an important point, and I think the book goes far to underline the need for education and regulations to ensure that firearms are securely stored. I know that my fellow shooters oppose any restrictions, and I get that...I know that when you give an inch they yank a foot out of your hand. But I think the left go too far when they demand Draconian gun laws. Surely there is a middle ground where gun owners can enjoy their rights without endangering others. I wish he had been more clear on that in his book.

  • Ron Charles
    2019-02-02 01:59

    Last week, a 4-year-old boy in Florida found a .45-caliber handgun in the family car and shot his mother in the back while she was driving down the highway. As shocking as such stories are, we’ve been reading about them for a long time. Just how long becomes clear in Peter Manseau’s haunting little book “Melancholy Accidents.”Like something from the mind of Edward Gorey, it’s a record of “three centuries of stray bullets and bad luck.” The collection would be grimly funny if each of these anecdotes didn’t involve real friends, spouses and children getting shot. . . . To read the rest of this review, go to The Washington Post:https://www.washingtonpost.com/entert...

  • Melissa
    2019-01-29 06:01

    This was a really interesting book with historical newspaper articles about mishaps with firearms. Each article was fascinating to read though they cover such tragic occurences. The wording for some of the news articles were a bit amusing and very old fashion. My dark humor though had me laughing out loud at a few of the stories which may offend some people. Overall a good book.

  • Zippergirl
    2019-01-26 04:51

    I received this book in exchange for an honest review.I try not to think about guns, but they are everywhere: on the news, in movies and books, even the sporting goods and toy section of your local Walmart. Right, Walmart, where a mom with a permit to carry a concealed weapon was killed by a bored youngster in a shopping cart. Like the author points out in the front matter: "People who kill people with guns often don't mean to, guns are so good at it that people sometimes don't even have to try."So, despite believing myself non-judgmental about gun laws and second amendment issues, it's difficult to be judgment-free after reading hundreds of accounts of accidental deaths, or 'melancholy accidents,' as they were often called in newspaper headlines of the 18th and 19th centuries.The hard work's been done for you. Peter Manseau, a fellow at the Smithsonian Institution, has cherry-picked from stacks of old newspapers the gruesome and the shake-your-head circumstances of death by gun (a Santa Claus toting a revolver?) Like reading epitaphs in an old New England graveyard--full of tragedy and strange occurrences--you find yourself asking, have we learned anything from the past?Provocative and enlightening, read for yourself the many ways guns have accidentally thinned the human herd.

  • Samuel
    2019-02-15 03:48

    Most of this book is taken up by excerpts from various newspapers dealing with reports of gun accidents. Some are brief and dry, while others incorporate moralizing, poetry, or other commentary. Certain patterns repeat with almost numbing regularity.I'd probably give it three stars were it not for the introductory essay that meditates on the American relationship with firearms, and does it very well indeed. It's easily worth an extra star.

  • Meghan Volchko
    2019-02-17 02:41

    Yes, there are multiple people whom are shot by their dogs.

  • Laura HP
    2019-02-18 07:37

    This book is largely a collection of newspaper articles, spanning three centuries, about accidental shootings in America. It is a really interesting concept, and there is something to just reading through the same tragedy over and over, having the pattern drilled into you. The tone and language shifts through the centuries as newspaper styles change, but the same horrors repeat themselves - she didn't know it was loaded, he pointed it as a joke, loved ones shooting loved ones. I was a bit torn on the book as a whole. On the one hand, it is pretty effective to read through all those articles, building up one after the other. On the other hand, I think it could've been much more effective with some commentary and organization - an in-depth look at some case studies, or some societal context of the different eras, or highlighting some common themes that might not be readily obvious to the reader. I liked it, but I do think it could've been something more.

  • Janday
    2019-02-14 01:57

    First, I can only imagine the research Manseau had to undertake in order to locate newspaper clippings of accidental deaths by gunshot among all the news of intentional homicide. Give the man a research award (and probably a drink). Additionally, get all his archivists and research assistants drinks as well. Second, as a gun control advocate who lives in the middle of gun country Texas, I will happily hand over this book to anyone who casually begins the motto, “Guns don’t kill people…”Don’t tell me guns don’t kill people, here is 300 years of printed record–not counting the last 100 years–that says they do.

  • Kristy
    2019-02-06 04:45

    This book offers little in the way of analysis, but someone else's analysis of the past isn't really the purpose of this book. Instead, Manseau seems to be offering up without judgement or commentary an overview of one side of America's complicated history with guns and gun ownership. He lets the historical record, told in news articles collected from 1739 to 1916, stand for itself. And I don't know about you, but it made me kind of discouraged to see how little we have changed even though the technology behind firearms has. Guess what? We've been shot by our pets, by our family members, by our own idiocy handling loaded weapons since before this country was even a country. I read the book in fits and starts because I would waver between being really upset with the accidents and deaths that ignorance coupled with gun ownership has led to (and leads to today), and becoming blasé about the whole thing (akin to watching the local or national news and each story is the same old tragedy). When I hit that point, though, I made myself stop and came back to the book later. Because there is something to be said for the 200+ pages of melancholy accidents, for all the victims of gun violence beyond 1916. There's something stark, something almost obscene, in the wording, the focus on the details of injuries - of bullet trajectories, of bodies injured, of the people left behind - that warrants a particular kind of attention. I appreciate Manseau's efforts and appreciate that this book exists, that we can look back at our history and see a particular side to gun violence. I'm just not sure how I feel knowing this is so intrinsically our history that we can't seem to divorce ourselves from it.I received this book from the publisher and from Edelweiss in return for an honest review.

  • Boyd
    2019-02-02 04:03

    If, like me, you're a fan of Michael Lesy's 1970 cult masterpiece WISCONSIN DEATH TRIP, this may well be a book for you. Though not on a par with that classic, it similarly works on two levels. On the more serious of these, it's a compact and depressing survey of America's three-century-long, failed relationship with firearms. Peter Manseau has compiled brief newspaper accounts of gun mishaps dating back as far as the 1730s to demonstrate how little the "melancholy accidents" of the past differ from those occurring daily in the US today. On another level...well, it's the Darwin Awards in spades! People unintentionally shoot their brothers, sisters, parents, friends, horses, children, dogs--and, of course, themselves--in ways ranging from the unlucky to the idiotic. For pure gallows (or firing-squad) humor, the reports themselves are hard to beat, combining a scientific preoccupation with complex bullet trajectories, detailed descriptions of the physical damage to the deceased ("the gun discharged its contents into Mr. Bennett's head, blowing out his eyes and entering his skull"), pessimistic forecasts regarding any surviving victim ("a charge of shot lodged in one knee, and it is probably that it will have to be amputated"; "Her physician thinks she cannot recover"), and maudlin poems.

  • Debra Daniels-zeller
    2019-02-01 03:38

    Warning: this is dark humor. I found this gem on Best Bets at the library and the title of the book says it all. This is unique collection of actual news clippings of accidental fatal firearm discharges over three centuries could be for all those people who claim guns don't kill people. While many of these accidents are shocking and some are well--just stupid accidents, all speak to the abundance of guns and casual acceptance of firearms for everyone in this culture. I gave it 5 stars for this unique perspective on guns. Favorite from the Leavenworth Times in Kansas, 1873: "A dog accidentally shot his master at Bridgport, Conn., lately." Runner up: from the Rutland Daily Globe 1874: "A Knsas boy earned a nice Bible by committing three hundred verses to memory, and then he traded his Bible for a shot-gun and accidentally shot his aunt in the leg--a fearful warning to all aunts."

  • Kathleen
    2019-02-10 04:59

    This is not a book that could have come out before the public sparring over gun control, largely because it's one long historical argument for gun control. It's essentially a collection of newspaper articles chronicaling accidental shootings from the colonial era on. And on the one hand, it's fascinating to read all of these and imagine the stories behind them. One or two of them I'm positive were murders disguised as accidents. On the other hand, they get very repetitive and depressing, especially if you read them all at once like I did. I dunno, it's an interesting read, but maybe in bite-sized pieces. And maybe sort of accidentally left on your anti-gun-control relative's side table. Accidental-like.

  • Ashley
    2019-01-27 01:55

    This wasn't the book I thought it was going to be. I'd expected more analysis and context than primary source reader. I really enjoyed the introductory essay that Manseau included but was disappointed that the body of the book was just the articles reprinted from various newspapers. As a collection of primary sources, I can see this being useful. However, without any framing comments I was left wondering "so what?" The accumulation of stories doesn't itself tell you anything except that this happened a lot. What to make of this accumulation of facts seems to me to be the more interesting (and missing) part of this book.

  • Marjorie Elwood
    2019-02-21 07:55

    "While the gun as a symbol in American mythology has stood variously for revolutionary liberty, frontier-opening self-reliance, and most recently stand-your-ground security, hapless tragedy may be its most durable meaning. "This quick read catalogs quite a number of accidents involving firearms, to the point that it becomes a little redundant.

  • Jennifer
    2019-02-12 01:54

    To be honest, I couldn't finish this book. It was too traumatic. The introduction was well-written and the newspaper articles detailing accidental gun death, after accidental gun death were fascinating, but I could barely sleep the night I started reading this. Not recommended if you have even one little part of you that is a worrier.

  • Bea Elwood
    2019-01-29 03:46

    Newspaper accounts of accidental shootings from the 1700s to 1910. What more needs to be said, morbidly fascinating

  • Wendi
    2019-02-01 07:00

    Having read and written about this type of newspaper article I was hoping for a more robust analysis, still an interesting collection of news clippings.

  • Bernadette
    2019-02-05 03:37

    Funny little book about gun accidents.