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The Glock is not an elegant gun, but it’s functional—so functional, in fact, that a standard semiautomatic can fire as many as 17 bullets without reloading. Dunk a Glock in water, or drop it from the roof of a tall building, and it will still fire. The hardened plastic shell contains only 36 parts, all of which are interchangeable with other models. But, as Paul M. Barrett explains in Glock: The Rise of America’s Gun, those weren’t the only reasons police departments and Hollywood directors grew so enamored of this particular handheld killing machine. Barrett, an assistant managing editor and senior features writer at Bloomberg Businessweek, spent 15 years researching Glock; he argues that when the Austrian-made handgun was introduced to American markets in 1984, our rabid gun culture helped it thrive. Law-enforcement officials, film honchos, rappers, and suburban kids associate Glocks with violence, power, idiotic shooting accidents, and cold-blooded murder. Barrett’s book is a clear, concise read that neatly hits its target: In the United States, “gun” is now almost synonymous with “Glock.”

Barrett discusses and signs his book at 7 p.m. at Politics & Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. politics-prose.com. (202) 364-1919.