Clint Eastwood biographer Patrick McGilligan, who wrote the damning, demythologizing 1999 Eastwood tome "Clint: The Life and Legend" (published in 2002 in the U.S. after weathering threats of litigation by the megastar's lawyers for a number of years) has released a new edition of the book that covers the last 13 years of Eastwood's life and career, including last year's hugely-controversial Iraq war drama "American Sniper."

In a new interview with Salon, McGilligan addresses the "American Sniper" firestorm and suggests that its massive, unexpected success (not to mention the success of many of Eastwood's previous films) is reflective of larger societal problems -- namely American exceptionalism and our stubborn national love affair with firearms:

"Gail Collins in the New York Times got it right: She said 'American Sniper' was ultimately a pro-gun film. Clint’s career has been a pro-gun career. He pioneered the huge body count and death toll in cop vigilante films, and his war movies do the same exponentially. The not-deep idea is that Americans — Men With No Name or Chris Kyle’s name — have to use their guns and military hardware to save the town or the world, because other people aren’t up to the task, and yes, innocent people die in the crossfire, but that’s the price to pay for being America.

"I don’t think film critics paid much attention to all the factual attacks on the film, much less the political ones from the left, all of which are worth reading. (Michael Moore was totally right!) Film critics (mostly male) love guns in movies almost as much as audiences have been conditioned to. The film’s success is a sad commentary on how little has been learned from Iraq. But not everyone who went to see it thought it was a good or wise film either. I know Republicans as well as progressives who went out of curiosity and were appalled."

You can check out the full interview here. It's an engrossing read.

A former contributor to sites including MTV's The Backlot and Bloody-Disgusting, Chris Eggertsen worked in film development before indulging his love of pop culture writing full time. He specializes in horror, the intersection of social issues and entertainment and Howard Stern. He's on Twitter @HitFixChris.