... written with verve, painted with broad strokes and dotted with memorable anecdotes and vivid quotations ... Anderson’s account, however, is wanting in important respects. She argues unconvincingly, in the face of formidable scholarship to the contrary, that the aim to protect slavery was the predominant motive behind the Second Amendment ... in her telling, dread of Blacks was the essential, overriding cause of the Second Amendment, an entitlement 'rooted in fear of Black people, to deny them their rights, to keep them from tasting liberty.' Such claims significantly overstate the role of race in the amendment’s development ... provides little useful guidance regarding contemporary approaches to the matter of 'race and guns.' A historian need not be a policy analyst. But Anderson wades into the volatile debate over the legality and wisdom of competing views on gun possession.
... powerful ... Writing evenhandedly and with abundant examples, Anderson makes a thoroughly convincing case ... An urgent, novel interpretation of a foundational freedom that, the author makes clear, is a freedom only for some.