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The Practical Pyromaniac: Build Fire Tornadoes, One-Candlepower Engines, Great Balls of Fire, and More Incendiary Devices

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ISBN-13: 978-1569767108
ISBN-10: 1569767106
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The Practical Pyromaniac: Build Fire Tornadoes, One-Candlepower Engines, Great Balls of Fire, and More Incendiary Devices + Backyard Ballistics: Build Potato Cannons, Paper Match Rockets, Cincinnati Fire Kites, Tennis Ball Mortars, and More Dynamite Devices + Mini Weapons of Mass Destruction: Build Implements of Spitball Warfare
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"What a fun, totally engrossing book! Gurstelle’s projects—everything from a tiny single-candle engine to a flamethrower—are both easy to build and hard to resist. But along the way Gurstelle also weaves in a fascinating account of how the mysteries of fire were deciphered by some of history’s greatest scientists. Think of The Practical Pyromaniac as a cookbook for the budding scientist in each of us." —James Meigs, editor in chief of Popular Mechanics



"If only I had had a reference like William Gurstelle's terrific [book] ... provides no-nonsense walkthroughs of a host of excellent, intriguing and magical experiments (with plenty of very sage safety talk and advice)."  —Mythbusters' Adam Savage in his review for The Wall Street Journal

"William Gustelle is the bomb—as well as the blowtorch, the catapult, the guided missile, and now the fire tornado. His enthusiasm for just-shy-of-catastrophic chemistry is infectious and inspiring, and once again he’s proven that science can be bold, captivating, and fun for all." —Thomas Goetz, executive editor of Wired and author of The Decision Tree



"A recipe book packed with fun (and safe) fire projects, fit for science geeks, garage experimenters and casual weekend flame-throwers."  —MSNBC.com

"When the zombie apocalypse comes, I want William Gurstelle’s books in my survival bunker. The Practical Pyromaniac delivers the history, science, and practical know-how needed to play safely with, and truly understand, Prometheus’s gift. To quote Beavis: ‘Fire. Heh. Heh. Fire!’" —Ken Denmead, publisher of GeekDad.com and author of Geek Dad: Awesomely Geeky Projects and Activities for Dads and Kids to Share


"This book isn't just playtime for pyros ... [it is] full of cool things to build, sure enough, but it's also an educational and entertaining trip back through the history of science. This one deserves maximum exposure to both the build-it-yourself crowd and those fascinated by the cul-de-sacs of scientific history." —Booklist


"Simply stated directions and easy-to-follow illustrations usher readers through more than 15 incendiary projects ... The author renders otherwise dense and complicated scientific explanations imminently understandable." —Kirkus Reviews


“This book packs enough punch to fill a dozen weekends with high-powered hijinks that will amaze and delight the members of your secret garage science club.” —Mark Frauenfelder, editor in chief of MAKE
 
 
 

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 Absinthe & Flamethrowers, 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.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press (June 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1569767106
  • ISBN-13: 978-1569767108
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.5 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #435,281 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Related Media


More About the Author

In 2011, Popular Mechanics Magazine added five special editors to its masthead: William Gurstelle, Jay Leno, the Mythbusters' Adam Savage and Jaime Hyneman, and Instapundit's Glenn Reynolds. There's a reason Bill is there along side those luminaries: His views on risk taking, combined with his best selling books have put him in the spotlight.

Media Attention
Long features about Bill and his ideas have run in the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Popular Science, the London Daily Telegraph, National Public Radio, PBS, Radio Canada, and scores of other media outlets.

Best Selling Author
Now, because of his groundbreaking views and easy writing style, he's one of the most widely read science and technology authors in the world. His best sellers include Absinthe and Flamethrowers, Backyard Ballistics, Adventures from the Technology Underground, and The Practical Pyromaniac. More than a half million copies of his books have been sold, a truly amazing amount for a technology author.

National Magazine Columnist
In addition to his books, he writes frequently on culture and technology for national magazines including Popular Mechanics, Wired, the Atlantic, and Make. Online, he is a frequent contributor to BoingBoing, Makezine, and Wired.

Popular Speaker
Bill has given lectures to groups all over the world including North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. Select clients and their comments are available through the navigation panel to the left.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Gretchen Garner on August 31, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
[[VIDEOID:mo2WAMYVWQKK6I]]The book is a great read however I purchased the kindle version and it's missing some pictures and diagrams on a couple of pages. Other than that it's a really great book. I gave one star because of the image issue.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By S. Kosloske on September 20, 2011
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No, I'm serious about the title. There are some fun experiments in here, and can teach kids both about chemistry, and to have respect for things that burn and blow up.

A lot of it is pretty basic, so I think it's more geared toward adult-assisted experiments for kids. But then, the flame thrower is really cool. Can't wait to build that, not sure where I'll find a safe place to try it, though.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Garbunkle on November 17, 2011
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Great book filled with some great projects. Keep in mind, this isn't something to buy your kid unless you want your house to burn down. These are good projects for someone who knows what they are doing and is able to be safe when playing with fire.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Wendy J from UMICH on August 20, 2011
Format: Paperback
I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed William Gurstelle's new book The Practical Pyromaniac. I have only tried two of the projects so far with my children but they were easy, interesting and so much fun! We all loved it. Thanks for writing these books. Science would have been so much more interesting if teachers had used your great experiements while we were in school. We are all looking forward to what your next book will bring to our lives.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Alpental Maven on May 21, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It looks to like the book has been sanitized. Figures, diagrams and illustration necessary to construct the bigger projects, like the flame thrower, have been removed. I understand why they would I'd that but the description should say so.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Edelman TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 31, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There are a fair number of clever projects in this book that live up to the title, like the sound modulated flame tube, the fire tondo, and the flame thrower, but there are also a good many mundane projects like making a clay oil lamp, or the "one candlepower engine" which is simply a candle on a horizontal pivot lit at both ends. It's not nearly as good as the author's earlier Backyard Ballistics: Build Potato Cannons, Paper Match Rockets, Cincinnati Fire Kites, Tennis Ball Mortars, and More Dynamite Devices. The budding mad scientist will find a wider variety of really flashy and dangerous projects in Make: Technology on Your Time Volume 35: Playing with Fire: The Danger Issue.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amy Gardels on January 8, 2014
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Got this book for my 3 little boys. I'm a Mom, and we have spent many hours reading the stories and history behind fire dynamics, and trying the experiments. Little boys and big boys love fire. This is a good way to let them experiment and experience the "fire" safely. FYI boys, always follow the safety guidelines :).
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By Michael A. Rehm on March 8, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Loved this book. I have always experimented in a little of this and that in my home shop. I wish I had this book back in high school. I might have faired better in the science fairs.
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