Read AbsintheFlamethrowers: Projects and Ruminations on the Art of Living Dangerously by William Gurstelle Online


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 livA 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....

Title : AbsintheFlamethrowers: Projects and Ruminations on the Art of Living Dangerously
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781556528224
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 224 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

AbsintheFlamethrowers: Projects and Ruminations on the Art of Living Dangerously Reviews

  • Amanda
    2019-06-05 00:31

    There is a small but growing sub-genre of books into which this one fits quite neatly. It is, to the best of my knowledge, purely an American male phenomenon, but if you've found something else, please let me know.It's the genre I describe as "Mid-Life Crisis Obsession Non-Fiction." A man, always middle class, white, and well-educated, but bored and dulled by his safe corporate life, decides to embrace something wild and daring and dangerous. Then he writes about how he did it, often about how you can do it, too. There is almost always some sort of an attempt at making it a spiritual journey, Prime examples are "Heat", "No Impact Man" (okay, a blog/movie not a book...), and "Emergency." One might argue that "Fight Club" qualifies, though I've never actually slogged through that book. And now, "Absinthe and Flamethrowers."I was torn about my rating. Part of the book is fantastic -- a useful and handy guide on how to make gunpowder and solid rocket fuel. There are instructions, too, for an actual flame thrower. There is a listing of places to buy hard-to-find items (which I plan to use for my sausage making, if nothing else). Clear, well-written, laced with just enough humour. A good read for those of us who love a Mythbusters marathon. And then there's the rest of the book.He spends a long and dull chapter in the front of the book talking about how risk taking defines our humanity, our selves, our lives! How you are a better person if you take risks! How modern life stifles our risk taking! How he broke out from his dull job at the phone company! Blah, blah, blah. I skimmed the first bit of that chapter and skipped the rest, thinking that this guy should just run naked into the woods and bang on a drum. And, for someone who believes risk taking is so vital, he spends a LOT of his ink describing common-sense safety precautions for all of his "artfully dangerous projects." It's likely that he had to do that because of lawyers, but it's still a steady undercurrent of caution that undermines his central thesis of RISK=LIVING!And the rest of the book -- the bits that aren't gunpowder or smoke bombs or whatnot -- strikes a sort of sour note with me. He enumerates a list of "artfully dangerous activities" that you may or may not want to indulge in. I'm all for living "on the edge," but his idea of what a dangerous man might do is a bit ... adolescent. Imagine what a suburban 14-year-old geek boy might think that James Bond does and you've got a good idea of his list: eating fugu, learning to crack a whip, smoking a European cigarette, drinking absinthe (which, he's at pains to explain, isn't nearly as dangerous as you think it is!), and driving fast. Even eating hot chili peppers makes his list, which becomes fairly pedestrian once it's out of the realm of explosives.The most interesting thing that doesn't involve explosives is his very glancing section of bartitsu, the martial art practiced by Sherlock Holmes. It's not useful, but he has endnotes that point the interested Holmes fan towards more information.And I have got to applaud his citations, lists, and excellent references. Ironically, his solid research is the best part of the book. What's more, it's useful for those of us who want the learn to make gunpowder, but don't see doing so as a life-affirming way to reassert our manhood.

  • Liza Gilbert
    2019-06-01 18:26

    There were several things I liked about this book, but so many more that I didn't.At the 50 page mark we still hadn't gotten into the descriptions of how to do dangerous things.The author spends those 50 pages talking about the philosophy of why people do dangerous things, which wouldn't have been too bad if he hadn't come off as slightly patronizing.I skimmed the rest of the book, which includes info on how to build a flamethrower, how to eat pufferfish, how to build smoke bombs, etc.My favorite line: "Wear a hat when practicing with a bullwhip."Okay.Overall, I felt Gurstelle's writing was uneven. He spouts philosophy, personality tests, and theory in the first half, using big words and somewhat talking down to his audience, but in the latter half of the book he takes the low road, really talking down to the audience (such as gently explaining what eBay is). My opinion: if you don't know what eBay is, you probably shouldn't be purchasing chemicals online and drinking wormwood in your spare time.I thought this could have been an adventurous, moderately anarchistic read, but it was just disappointing.

  • Chris
    2019-05-27 21:25

    I'll admit that I skipped most of this and spent a lot of time on the flamethrower instructions, and I have to say they are unclear, inconsistent, and imprecise. the materials sheet lacks a handful of pieces he references later and the design he outlines differs from the example he's made.In general, if you don't have the mechanical inclination to0 fill in the gaps or improvise a bit you probably won't be able to make a working flamethrower from his recipe, but on the other hand, if you can't do those things, you probably have no business making one. on top of that, there is a good bit of knowledge about fire safety and the behavior of LP gas and it's materials that one should know before attempting this sort of thing.

  • Cheryl
    2019-06-15 19:32

    Ugh. This was not the book I wanted it to be. It had too much detail I'm some areas and not nearly enough in others. The worst thing though -- and I nearly stopped reading early on because of it -- was the quiz to see if you are a risk taker. Unlike the largely geeky and solo activities on which the book is focused, the quiz is almost entirely about physical risk taking -- running marathons and climbing mountains. Overall frustrating and not recommended.

  • Christopher
    2019-05-24 21:45

    I had issues with this book.Over half the chapters were exhortations on "Living Life Dangerously" as part of the "Golden Third" of people who take above-average risks but not so far as to become self-destructive. I can somewhat see what the author was going for, but he went out of his way to excoriate the less risk-taking, calling them milquetoasts or "little-t" (T supposedly standing for thrill-seeking but inevitably conjuring the word testosterone). Tirades against a "nanny-state" - however short - make me want to shut any conversation down before I'm being offered off-the-grid land in Montana.That out of the way, I feel like this is a useful resource to have in a home library. Having an approachable, basic recipe for black powder, rocket engines, and flame-throwers seems like just the type of knowledge I probably will never need but don't want to go scrambling for when I do.As a final aside, this book is also quintessentially American in its choices of measurements. Only unit-uncertain Yanks would insist on weighing chemicals in grams to heat to temperatures in Fahrenheit to form in to tubes in 16th of an inch and then puncture with a 9-penny nail.

  • James Targett
    2019-05-27 21:34

    Didn't finish this. Very US centric - with some odd views of what entails risk-taking (travelling in Europe, running a marathon ... ambitious activities possibly, but risky????) and some actual stupidity (encouraging high-speed driving on the roads, smoking ... true, it's risky, but how much of an adrenaline rush do you get from get from incrementally increasing the change you'll get cancer?). Even to the actual title, flamethrowers look fun, and I can see that as a risky, fun activity; but I don't really see drinking absinthe as risky.Plus the tone is pompous. The voice of someone with a face you want to punch.

  • Brandon
    2019-05-27 00:43

    I owe quite a bit of this book. This book introduced me to Hunter S. Thompson and possibly even more important... that a safe life is not necessarily a better life. I love this book dearly, it means a lot to me, and the nostalgia goggles are definitely in full force.At its core you have a man who just wants people to get the most out of life. He gives you the run down of what "edge-working" is, and then gives you a slew of ideas and blueprints to keep pushing that edge. At the end of the day you still have a book that will teach you how to build a flamethrower, and if you ask me, that's still worth a ton.

  • Jess
    2019-06-13 22:36

    So awesome. Teaches you how to do/make a bunch of stuff that is dangerous, but legal. The first part of the book goes a bit into the history of a few famous thrill seekers, then it goes into the science. This book gives you the information (like where to buy supplies) and the inclination to try a few things that you might not have had the guts to try before. Here are a few examples: make gunpowder, use a bullwhip, make a flame thrower. This is the adult equivalent of the 'Dangerous Book for Boys'.

  • Beth
    2019-06-22 23:43

    Gurstelle talks about the purpose of risk taking before offering a number of fairly safe ways to indulge in things that get one's adrenaline pumping, like model rocketry and homemade flamethrowers as well as thrill eating (pufferfish) and drinking absinthe.I was surprised that the safety tips, which he preluded with instructions o "skim around in the book, but this is really important! don't skip it!" didn't appear until page 36 or so. That, along with a section on how to smoke to convey character, made it very putdownable for me.

  • Jack
    2019-06-13 01:44

    This is not great literature, nor a true how-to-build stuff. Instead, it is a geek manifesto to let one's curiosity wander, and try things that seem interesting. The particular examples -- drinking absinthe, compounding one's own black powder in the garage -- do not particularly appeal to me, yet I found it a strangely fun read. The exhortation to find ways to move outside of one's own box seems worth listening to.

  • Diane
    2019-06-11 18:25

    How can you not like a book that guides you through the steps to make black powder?This is the second in a series by this author of semi-dangerous projects for the backyard (basement) enthusiast. "Semi-" only if you use common sense and safety precautions. Completely dangerous if you ignore them.I'm waiting anxiously for my son-in-law's visit to try some of these out. (I like him! He's going to help me! I'm not trying these experiments out 'on' him!) The grandkids will love it.

  • Miles
    2019-06-20 19:24

    This book has a lot to offer, but I confess to being a little disappointed. Most of the value that I found was in the psychology or risk-taking rather than the projects that were the intended focal point of the book. Views on risk-taking throughout history are entertaining, but feel like filler in some cases, things just put in to add a few pages. It was okay, but I expected more for my money.

  • Thurston
    2019-06-17 01:38

    summarizing....the author talk down to the can you live such a boring life if you aren't building a rocket or is not chock full interesting ideas...i will return this book to the library before the FBI puts me on their terrorist list for reading this....phew, it was risky just reading this...what a rush

  • Alison
    2019-06-02 23:49

    Paged through this one. Admittedly, I don't live dangerously. I don't even turn the volume up on my headphones past halfway. And my favorite mantra is, just because you can, doesn't mean you should. Maybe that's why I picked the book up? The quotes are enjoyable. And taking the thrill and experience seeking evaluation was informative.

  • Westerville
    2019-05-30 23:30

    So awesome. Teaches you how to do/make a bunch of stuff that is dangerous, but legal. - Jessica, Adult ServicesReserve a library copy.

  • Doug Roberts
    2019-06-16 21:51

    This book is intended to help risk-adverse people (little-t) into reasonable risk takers (big-T). As it turns out, I am either a dyed-in-the-wool little-t, or to lazy and apathetic to go to the trouble of becoming a big-T. I might try Absinthe now, though.

  • Dan
    2019-05-30 22:42

    This is an interesting one. My girlfriend gave it to me for Christmas, and a quick glance shows lots of instructions on how to make your own weapons. Flamethrowers, rockets, gunpowder, it's all there. If society crumbles it could be handy.

  • Benjaminxjackson
    2019-06-11 18:29

    This is the kind of book that makes me long to own a farm, so that I have an out building or two and some space to tinker with interesting projects. Alas, most of these projects aren't suited to apartment living.

  • Hester
    2019-06-14 00:25

    Now I can make my own charcoal.

  • Laesar
    2019-06-18 00:26

    found the majority of this book boring. the only thing i enjoyed were the instructions on how to make black powder and flamethrowers.

  • Forrest Sontag
    2019-06-13 22:50

    Fun book, but it really could use a bit more flamethrowers...Not quite as good as some of Gurstelle's other books.

  • Sally
    2019-06-12 21:52

    library's buying it!!

  • raihan
    2019-05-25 21:42

    Fun read. Lots of crazy experiments in this one.

  • PABlo Bley
    2019-06-04 20:33

    Now I know how to make gun powder (among other things).

  • Chloe
    2019-06-13 00:23

    Two great things, together at long last...

  • Michael Brown
    2019-06-03 20:34

    I just started it yesterday, but so far, it is enlightening

  • Clint Flatt
    2019-05-28 22:51

    A manly book on how to do all the things you have always wanted to but did not know how to safely try it. A kids books of science projects for adults.

  • Desiree
    2019-06-22 22:28

    I am not in the golden third. But this was entertaining if occasionally hypocritical (live dangerously... but make sure you have plenty of safety equipment!)

  • Patricia
    2019-06-18 01:49

    Not nearly as exciting as I hoped. Unless you're really into making your own fireworks, there's not a lot of specifically-useful information.

  • Michelle
    2019-06-04 19:52

    Unanimously voted by the guys as "not nearly as fun as Backyard Ballistics or The Art of the Catapult"