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Acknowledgements. 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.' Izhevsk. Better late than never. 7. Odds and ends. Notes. Glossary. Biographical details. Select bibliography and filmography. Index.
Elena Joly listened to Kalashnikov as he told his story and has been careful to respect his spoken style. Born in the Soviet Union, she now lives in Paris. She was in charge of the 'Soviet section' of the French publishing house Actes Sud, and has written La Troisi&eme Mort de Staline (1988), a series of interviews with intellectuals of the Gorbachev period.
"This intruiging autobiography opens doors on life in the once closed military town of Izhevsk, and provides revealing insights into the not-so-closed mind of a Soviet gunmaker." Times Literary Supplement "A commanding portrait of a man who lived through the best and worst treatment at the hands of the Soviet regime." Tribune "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