Richard C. Rattenbury, “A Legacy in Arms”
History with a Bang
Steely-eyed sheriffs and dastardly outlaws, scouts and hunters and bartenders in rowdy saloons … settling the Western frontier was a rough, dangerous business, and firm words weren’t going to cut it. The rifles and handguns that were instrumental in America’s westward expansion are lavishly portrayed in “A Legacy in Arms,” a fresh OU Press publication by Richard C. Rattenbury, with photographs by Ed Muno. The expansive coffee-table tome concentrates on the 19th century, drawing on the extensive and well-documented collection of armaments housed within the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. After a quick primer on the ways the industry overall changed over the course of the 1800s (moving from an individual craftsman to a specialized factory model; product-oriented to process-oriented), the bulk of the book’s pages is devoted to chronicling in detail some of the greatest hits from the truly great arms makers: Colt, Remington, Winchester, Smith & Wesson. It closes with some special examples of artistry in engraving and inlay. An art book and history lesson in one, Rattenbury’s compendium is consistently on target for lovers of the period and its firepower.