Did you know that fatal gun mishaps have been so common in America that for centuries, newspapers carried regular columns reporting on "melancholy accidents"?
It came as a surprising discovery when, while conducting research that involved reading colonial-era newspapers, acclaimed writer Peter Manseau stumbled upon one report after another of "melancholy accidents"--instances of local people accidentally discharging firearms to disastrous results.
Usually, they were brief items, with the concision of dark poetry--hunting accidents, neighbor shooting neighbor, father shooting son. Dark as they were, they were also often bizarre and fascinating--such as the case of one farmer who, trying out his new musket, shot it at his barn, hitting a door hinge that split the musket ball in two, with each half ricochetting off to hit a different, distant person, each of whom was a doctor.
In Melancholy Accidents, Manseau collects and annotates a wide-ranging assortment of these woebegone and oddly intimate reports, with numerous illustrations, photos, and visuals from original period newspapers. It makes for a wholly unique contribution to the ongoing consideration of--and the recent heated discussion about--the historic place of firearms in American society.