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The Luger Story by John Walter (2001)

I have a hard time reviewing this particular book. I would welcome comments by more experienced collectors. John Walter is a noted writer on firearms. His writing style is entertaining and flows smoothly. However, he opinions and facts in this particular book seem to me to get a bit shuffled and I have a hard time sorting documented fact from conjecture in this book.

The Luger Story I have is a paperback text of slightly over 200 pages that covers the history of the development of the Luger from Hiram Maxim's introduction of the toggle action through the Mitchell Arms American Eagle. This paperback version is lightly illustrated with 32 pages of glossy photographs in two 16 page sections. The photographs in the paperback are fair. There are also line drawings occasionally in the text. The text is arranged in 15 chapters based on the historical development of the Luger. Some example chapter titles are "Chapter 1: From the Maxim machine- gun to the Borchardt pistol" "Chapter 7: The 45 Luger and the US Army trials of 1907" "Chapter 10: The Luger in the First World War."

The Luger Story is a good read but I think it needs to be taken as an essay as opposed to factual research. (I would note here that I am a beginning Luger collector and own exactly two Lugers and would differ to the experts) Much can be learned from this book but I have noted enough opinions presented as fact that I would suggest that you seek verification before relying solely on this book. Much of it is very factual but things do slip in. I will offer some examples:

pg 19 ". . .the brief bloody, inglorious career of William "Billy the Kid" Bonney had ended in the heat of a New Mexican summer." This puts the year 1881 in some context, as intended, but the description of Bonney is largely hypothetical and depends on which side of the Lincoln County War you like.

pg 19 "Most of the participants in the American Civil War carried small-calibre improvements of the French designed Minie rifle" If .58 calibre is your idea of a small calibre this could be true.

pg 20 "When the war finished in 1865 most of these (repeating firearms and metallic cartridge guns) were swept into oblivion by a return to pre-war standards promoted by professional soldiers." The breech loading Springfield quickly was standardized by the army with a few years and the Colt Peacemaker was in place by 1875. The Gatling gun was not dropped at all.

pg 113 [Referring to altering the P04 first and second issues] "Unfortunately with the manual lever locked in its upward position, it could be caught on the holster. This sometimes pushed the manual catch downward unlocking the grip safety and freeing the gun to fire." On a two safety gun, grip and manual, this does not seem a likely hazard. Does anyone know of it ever happening? More likely to me is the hypothesis that this order took place after the P08 was in service with the safe down as the military standard. Also on this same page and topic: "Work was apparently entrusted to the Kiel dockyard, guns on overseas stations being recalled when appropriate and replaced by modified examples" I have begun researching the specifics of the alteration to first and second issue P04s. The wide variations in methods of removing the old mark and installing the new mark indicate this was a non-standard operation and may sometimes have been done in the field. Granted this statement does have a qualifier "apparently" but gives no reason for why this would be apparent.

I suspect experienced collectors can shed more like on the statements in the book.

This book can be bought for $21.00. It has a significant amount of information for that price. I think it may be a little dangerous for the beginner unless you realize that you need to exercise care in using the information.






regards, heinz
 

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IMHO an very accurate yet neutral critque. The Luger Story is a good read but would never quote it as a source.

I do not own this book. I do have Walther's Luger Book which I find very useful as a quick reference into a wealth of Luger related information and think that it is a worthwhile addition to a reference library. One should keep in mind that while it is a helpful aid, IMHO, it should be used as tool, not the "final word".
 

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I agree that the book is better as an overall read than as a useful source. That being said, I have found several pieces of information salted within the text which I have not seen anywhere else, and which were crucial to answering questions I had at the moment. To glean this information requires careful reading and retention of detail. Some experience with Luger collecting is necessary to recognize these nuggets.

--Dwight
 
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