by Rick Anderson (Associate Director for Scholarly Resources & Collections, Marriott Library, University of Utah; Phone: 801-721-1687)

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This article is followed up with A Reponse from Steve McKinzie as well.

In the September issue of ATG, Steve McKinzie presented a very wellwritten and carefully argued “case for getting rid of a celebrated book” — in this case, Michael A. Bellesiles’ infamous Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture. McKinzie’s indictment of the book itself is pretty much unassailable: he demonstrates that despite the book’s commercial success, and despite its status (now revoked) as a major award-winner, Arming America cannot in fact be considered a reliable source of information about the history of gun ownership in America. Bellesiles’ fabrication of data, his dishonest use of sources, and his statistical sleight of hand have all been carefully and exhaustively documented, as McKinzie points out. Libraries, to the degree that they consider it their primary role to provide good, accurate information to patrons, would do well to stop and think twice about adding such a book to their collections. McKinzie takes that logic one step further, exhorting libraries that acquired the book before its myriad failings were made public to remove it from their shelves.

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