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Absinthe & Flamethrowers: Projects and Ruminations on the Art of Living Dangerously

( 4 )

Overview

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...

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"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

"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."  —Twin Cities Metro

"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

"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

Dwight Garner
…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…Absinthe & Flamethrowers…explores the significance of moderate risk taking to our happiness, well-being and career advancement…It's also a book that contains meticulous directions for making a real, live, beastly flamethrower in your garage
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

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" à 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)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The New York Times

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.

Twin Cities Metro
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
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.
FullyBonded Blog
If you need to gently reintroduce some risk factor into your life—you might want to give this a read.
Oklahoma Gazette
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.
Real Absinthe Blog
I like the philosophy behind this book: a little danger can be good for you, people who take risks in life succeed in life.
New York Times
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.
Sunday Star
Gurstelle has produced a surprisingly engaging manual for adult-sized kids who really do want to make their own powder, fuses, rockets and smoke bombs.
Creative Loafing
In short, [Gurstelle] tells us how to have all kinds of dangerous fun and the science and ballistics behind this delinquency. Absinthe and Flamethrowers is a guidebook to all sorts of mischievous projects you can do yourself.
Mansfield Gazette
The projects are well thought-out, well-engineered and engaging...the read will do you good.
necessarycool.com
Necessary for anyone wanting to live their life on the edge. Just be warned, just because this book tells you how to do it, doesn't mean it's smart or safe. So don't blame us or them when you no longer have any eyebrows.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781556528224
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 6/1/2009
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 259,300
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet 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

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments v

Prologue xi

Part I Why Live Dangerously?

1 Big-T People, Little-T People 3

2 What is Edgework? 13

3 Where the Action Is 17

4 Why Live Dangerously? 25

Part II How to Live Dangerously

5 The Most Important Chapter in the Book 33

6 Obtainium 37

7 The Thundring Voice 49

8 Playing with Fire 69

9 The Inner MacGyver 87

10 The Minor Vices 111

11 The Physical Arts 139

12 Thrill Eating 159

13 Flamethrowers 175

14 The Strange Music Starts 191

Notes 197

Index 203

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 4 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 4, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Ruminations on the Art of Living Dangerously, Indeed

    At the beginning, one might think this book might be a re-tread of Backyard Ballistics, or Whoosh! Boom! Splat! It is not. Instead, Gurstelle has penned a sort of a mash-up of a tome looking at what makes certain kinds of people tick and why, while adding some very interesting projects for those who want to give such things a whirl. At no time does he do this without due regard for individual safety and adequate doses of warnings of the consequences for things that might go wrong. In this, in stead of preaching, he takes a very adult look at choice and free will, while reminding us that living dangerously includes being accountable for the results, good and bad.

    Example: His compressed-air potato cannon using a stun gun for the firing mechanism is a brilliant bit of shade tree engineering. Even so, he leavens his projects with an examination of why people would want to make such a thing, or cook home-made rocket motors in their own home while most people would be happy to switch on the TV and watch re-runs of reality programs. The reasons as well as the data he presents are illuminating.

    Note: In spite of the title, he is very clear about the dangers of both using absinthe and using and building flamethrowers and gives ample warnings about both. But he does not treat the reader like a toddler; you will be left to your own decisions, on your own.

    Perhaps Gurstelle's biggest strength is writing a book like this that is really aimed at mainstream America, not just the Geek Republic. In doing so, he invites the reader to ask, "Well, why the hell not?" in trying a project -- and begin learning again--for the very best reason of all: For the sheer joy and fun of it.

    Read it. You'll learn something and maybe even open up a world you thought was not there for you.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 9, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Why live dangerously?

    Why live dangerously? Because of flamethrowers of course! William Gurstelle's Absinthe & flamethrowers is an awesome book with detailed projects ranging from knife throwing to making smoke bombs and rockets. if you like a little danger and excitement in your life then this is your book, and if you don't then the information in this book is still very good to know because you never know when you will need to call on your dangerous side.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2012

    For the person below me

    You need to learn how to spell

    Idiot

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 8, 2012

    Hi

    This book is really bad a ersonally like mini weapons of mas desruction way better my son and husband uae ir all thr time and at six flags rthey kept bombing ppls purss we ended up in big trouble but it was soooooooooooooooooooooo funny

    0 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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