Synopses & Reviews
A Selection of the Scientific American Book Club
Want to add more excitement to your life?
This daring combination of science, history, and DIY projects will show you how. Written for smart risk takers, it explores why danger is good for you and details the art of living dangerously.
Risk takers are more successful, more interesting individuals who lead more fulfilling lives. Unlike watching an action movie or playing a video game, real-life experience changes a person, and Gurstelle will help you discover the true thrill of making black powder along with dozens of other edgy activities.
All of the projects—from throwing knives, drinking absinthe, and eating fugu to cracking a bull whip, learning bartitsu, and building a flamethrower—have short learning curves, are hands-on and affordable, and demonstrate true but reasonable risk.
With a strong emphasis on safety, each potentially life-altering project includes step-by-step directions, photographs, and illustrations along with troubleshooting tips from experts in the field.
"If you can imagine Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes all grown up, this supercharged guide for amateur thrill seekers would probably replace Hobbes as his constant companion. Ostensibly in order to encourage the notion that 'to a point, the ability to wage risk is a useful and worthwhile attribute,' professional engineer Gurstelle (The Art of the Catapult) lays out detailed instructions for making 'black powder' (gunpowder), rockets, flamethrowers and other devices that will endanger your digits and eyebrows. To the author's credit, he is equally detailed in his prescriptions of safety gear and precautions. He also details more hedonistic thrills, such as absinthe, cigarette smoking and 'thrill eating' la the Travel Channel's Andrew Zimmern 'in small amounts,' he says, 'they add bite and depth to the flavor of life.' Most of the recipes and blueprints that Gurstelle shares with fellow 'Big-T' (thrill-seeking) personalities, can be found all over the Internet, but this antidote to the usual cautious self-help guides is written well if occasionally in overheated prose, and, more important, is presented responsibly. Illus. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"If you ever wondered what happened to MacGyver, he lives in Minneapolis under the name of Bill Gurstelle." —Lee Zlotoff, creator, MacGyver
"If you can imagine Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes all grown up, this supercharged guide for amateur thrill-seekers would probably replace Hobbes as his constant companion." —Publishers Weekly
"When it comes to the theory and practice of making your own noisy, mildly dangerous fun in the backyard, America has a new poet laureate. His name is William Gurstelle." —New York Times
"The book is a sure-fire hit for people who want to get in touch with their inner MacGyver (to borrow a chapter title from the book) and for fans of television shows like MythBusters, which often involves building things that shoot or explode." —Booklist Online
"Scintillating." —MAKE Magazine Blog
"Learning to engage in acceptable levels of risk will result in sharpended critical thinking skills and an inner strength you didn't know you had. Just don't crack your new bullwhip indoors." —Geek Monthly
"Guys who consider 'MythBusters' to be appointment TV might warm to this oddball piece of nonfiction, which aims to put a smile on science, if a rather mischievous one." —The Oklahoma Gazette
Written for reasonable risk takers and suburban dads who want to add more excitement to their lives, this daring combination of science, history, and DIY projects explains why danger is good for you and details the art of living dangerously. All of the projectsfrom throwing knives, drinking absinthe, and eating fugu to cracking a bull whip, learning baritsu, and building a flamethrowerhave short learning curves; are human-focused, as opposed to technology-centric; are affordable; and demonstrate true but reasonable risk. The guide maintains that risk takers are more successful, more interesting individuals who lead more fulfilling lives. What would the world be like if Thomas Edison retired after 30 years working for the railroad, it asks, instead of getting fired for blowing up a rail car with one of his experiments? Though the manual doesnt advocate getting fired, it does reveal that making black powder is pure excitement. Unlike watching an action movie or playing a video game, real, edgy life experience changes a person. Each potentially life-altering project includes step-by-step directions and illustrations along with sidebar tips from experts in the field.
Written for reasonable risk takers and suburban dads who want to add excitement to their lives, this daring combination of science, history, and DIY projects explains why danger is good for you, and details the art of living dangerously.
About the Author
William Gurstelle is a professional engineer who has been researching and building model catapults and ballistic devices for more than 30 years. He is the author of The Art of the Catapult; the bestselling Backyard Ballistics; Building Bots, Whoosh, Boom, Splat; and Notes from the Technology Underground. He is a contributing editor at Make magazine and writes frequently for The Rake, Wired, and several other national magazines. He can be contacted at absintheandflamethrowers.com