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Children's LiteratureThis book combines the history of catapults with detailed instructions on how to build working models of seven historic weapons with evocative names like Ludgar the War Wolf, God's Stone Thrower, and the Wild Donkey. One model becomes a game, "Basket-Pult." Catapults have been studied for many years by both scientists and historians in order to try to understand the whys and wherefores of ancient wars. The Syracusean Greeks must have shocked their enemy when they changed the face of warfare by using the first known catapult in battle in 399 BC. The catapult took on many forms in succeeding centuries as soldiers strove to improve its destructive capabilities. It was used to hurl at the enemy a variety of things from stones to burning tar to dead cows to dung to messengers' heads. Eventually when cannons became effective weapons, catapults were no longer useful. Along with telling the stories of catapults' ingenious use in warfare, this book, discusses the principles of physics that make catapults work. It also gives the reader clear, detailed instructions with a series of exploded diagrams for making working models of catapults. The first chapter lays out the principles of safety that should be followed by anyone attempting the projects and each set of directions contains cautions as well. The book features a time line, drawings, maps, glossary, bibliography, and index. The author is a professional engineer who has been researching and building model catapults and ballistic devices for more than 20 years. 2004, Chicago Review Press Incorporated, Ages 12 up.
—Janet Crane Barley