Foreword to English edition: The history and workings of the AK-47.
Preface – The Terror and the Glory.
1. Treading a path of pain and sorrow.
Son of a kulak.
Farewell to Siberia.
2. ‘Arise, great country! Arise to mortal fight!’
The last but one.
My university – the hospital.
'You must help Sergeant Kalashnikov!'
3. The birth of the AK.
The 'Mikhim' dossier.
'Up until 2025, and even beyond….'
4. A unique weapon.
The standardization of firearms.
One more step.
5. 'He was a god, he might rise again.'
Daily life of a deputy in the Supreme Soviet.
Behind the walls of the Kremlin.
6. 'At home and abroad.'
Better late than never.
7. Odds and ends.
Select bibliography and filmography.
Times Literary Supplement
"A commanding portrait of a man who lived through the best and worst treatment at the hands of the Soviet regime."
"Mikhail Kalashnikov's autobiography is an intriguing look into the life and mind of a self-taught weapons designer who believed in what he did and for whom he did it. In plain language, this simple man straightforwardly tells of the adversity he surmounted as a youth to achieve the pinnacle of success as an adult. Though he ascribes the success in his life to fate, his innate vision and talent for the mechanics of weapon design show through unmistakably. A Stalinist, communist and patriot to the end, his life story is a valuable lens through with to view the history of the USSR and Russia from revolution to the present."
Roger Reese, Texas A&M University
"Mikhail Kalashnikov’s 'assault rifle' bridged the gap between the slow but accurate rifle and the fast but inaccurate sub-machine gun, and thus brought us – in the 1940s – to the point where armies still stand today. Readers of this delightful book will wonder why he ever bothered. Purged by Stalin and exiled to Siberia as a boy, Kalashnikov later accepted the Stalin Prize for his work on the AK-47. This fascinating book is an enthralling journey into the Soviet arsenal and mind."
Geoffrey Wawro, University of North Texas
"This book has pace, passion and a number of unusual insights into the weird mindset of at least one section of the Soviet ruling classes. It is a human story: a 'rags to riches' or 'poor boy makes good' story – and occasionally even a tear-jerker. It also contains some pretty good jokes."
Paddy Griffith, freelance military historian and publisher
- This is the autobiography of Mikhail Kalashnikov, the inventor of the world’s most famous gun, the AK-47.
- Offers a fascinating history of the weapon’s development and spread throughout the world, as well as a window into the turbulent history of Russian in the twentieth century.
- Contains over 30 halftones.
- Will appeal to both the general interested reader, as well as students and scholars of military history.