HOT BLAST: The firearm as cultural icon
Dec 24, 2013 | 1511 views |  0 comments | 26 26 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In this 2002 file photo, Russian weapon designer Mikhail Kalashnikov presents his legendary assault rifle to the media while opening the exhibition "Kalashnikov - legend and curse of a weapon" at a weapons museum in Suhl, Germany. (AP Photo/Jens Meyer, File)
In this 2002 file photo, Russian weapon designer Mikhail Kalashnikov presents his legendary assault rifle to the media while opening the exhibition "Kalashnikov - legend and curse of a weapon" at a weapons museum in Suhl, Germany. (AP Photo/Jens Meyer, File)
slideshow
The AP called this man's invention "the world's most popular firearm, favored by guerrillas, terrorists and the soldiers of many armies."

The New York Times said his innovation "became both Soviet and revolutionary symbols and widespread instruments of terrorism, child-soldiering and crime."

The Los Angeles Times noted he a "diminutive, white-haired man with the honorary rank of general," who "was revered throughout Russia and the other republics of the former Soviet Union."

Reuters mentioned that this "son of Siberian peasants, said pride in his invention was mixed with the pain of seeing it used by criminals and child soldiers."

Who is this, you ask? It's Mikhail Kalashnikov, the creator of the AK-47 assault rifle who died this week at age 94. Obituaries called the weapon the world's most well-known firearm, noting its widespread use in warfare and as a cultural icon, as well as the estimate that there are likely 100 million in circulation around the globe.

Or, as the LA Times put it:

In Vietnam, the Viet Cong used AK-47s while moisture and muck sometimes jammed more precise American M16s. In Rwanda, some 800,000 Tutsi villagers were slaughtered with machetes and AK-47s. With its distinctive banana-shaped clip, the weapon was a favorite of Yasser Arafat, Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden, who had one nearby in almost every photograph. In Africa, Mozambique placed a silhouetted AK-47 on its flag, crossed with a hoe.

For a deeper perspective on Kalashnikov and his most famous design we recommend this 2007 On the Media interview with Michael Hodges, author of AK47: The Story of the People’s Gun. 

Here's a sample from Hodges:

When I first met the general, we were sipping vodka, as you do in Russia, he described the AK-47 to me as the golem, which is the mythical creature of Eastern European Yiddish culture, when you take inanimate material, in that case, clay, and you invest it with life and it goes off and does your bidding. But, of course, in the legend it gets a mind of its own and you can’t get it back. And I thought it interesting that the general should call the AK-47 the golem, because that’s what it’s done; it’s long, long, long ago slipped out of his control. 



Comments must be made through Facebook
No personal attacks
No name-calling
No offensive language
Comments must stay on topic
No infringement of copyrighted material


Friends to Follow



Today's Events

event calendar

post a new event

Friday, April 18, 2014

Marketplace