The AK-47, or 'Kalashnikov', is the most abundant and efficient firearm on earth. It is so light it can be used by children. It has transformed the way we fight wars, and its story is the chilling story of modern warfare. C. J. Chivers' extraordinary new book tells an alternative history of the world as seen through these terrible weapons. He traces them back to their origins in the early experiments of Gatling and Maxim, and examines the first appearance of the machine-gun. The quest for ever greater firepower and mobility culminated in the AK-47 at the beginning of the Cold War, a weapon so remarkable that, over sixty years after its invention and having broken free of all state control, it has become central to civil wars all over the world.