The Gun That Made The 20's Roar

Publication date:
September 2016
Publisher :
Chipotle Publishing
Contributor(s) :
William J. Helmer
Illustration :
ISBN : 9780996521826

Out of stock



This project began as a master's thesis at The University of Texas in 1964. Over the next four years I was able to track down and visit, interview, or correspond with many of the individuals involved in the development of the Thompson Submachine Gun. I was especially fortunate to track down Oscar Payne, who designed the gun; Theodore Eickhoff, his supervisor; and George Goll, who remained with the Auto- Ordnance Corporation through World War II. These were the first three men hired by General John Thompson when he formed the Auto-Ordnance Corporation in 1916, and I was able to reacquaint them with one another some fifty years later.

The thesis evolved into the first "biographical-history” of General Thompson and the submachine gun that was published by the Macmillan Company as The Gun That Made The Twenties Roar. It received favorable reviews in Newsweek, The Washington Post's book section, and more than a dozen newspapers that had book columns at the time. (A few years later a photocopied edition of the original book was printed by Gun Room Press to accompany a longer-barreled semi-automatic version Thompson then being marketed by Numrich Arms, and it included an additional chapter on the Numrich gun by George Nonte that is not included in this second edition.)

Since then any number of books and articles have retold the Thompson story, but the only one that greatly expands on this edition, especially in manufacturing details, is The Ultimate Thompson Book, published in 2009 by Tracie Hill, founder of The American Thompson Association. I want to thank Tracie for most of the additional photos that appear in this edition. I also want to thank David Albert, former president of TATA, for putting me in touch with Chipotle Publishing Company which presents this second edition, one hundred years after the founding of the Auto-Ordnance Corporation. It is expanded with "boxes” and an additional chapter that updates the original book that was published in 1969.