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What Would MacGyver Do?: True Stories of Improvised Genius in Everyday Life Paperback – Bargain Price, December 18, 2007

43 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“This new collection is not strictly for geeks (although geeks will not be disappointed) . . . .”

“Wanna escape nuclear disaster using just a paper clip? What Would MacGyver Do? collects real-life tales of ingenuity with everyday objects.”
Entertainment Weekly

“An extremely entertaining read and a way for you to tap into your inner Mac. . . . Most of the stories are cool gems.”
The Palm Beach Post

About the Author

Brendan Vaughan has spent the past twelve years as a writer and editor for the country’s top magazines. He is currently a senior editor at Condé Nast Portfolio.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Plume (December 18, 2007)
  • ISBN-10: 0452289297
  • ASIN: B001P3OKVG
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,126,265 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 34 people found the following review helpful By J. D. Wolter on April 18, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I originally listened to the book as an audiobook. This one was so bad, I borrowed the hardcover book from the library so I could go over it for this review. This book claims to be stories of improvised genius. Far too many of these stories disappoint. The editor introduces each chapter with a preview that adds little to the work.

Here are some examples from the book which are NOT "Improvised Genius":

The car's exhaust system is dragging on the ground, so you contemplate using a coat hanger to tie it up. Instead, a construction worker cuts it off for you using an acetylene torch.

The power button for your computer breaks off the motherboard, so you glue it back on with Super Glue.

You forget to set the parking brake on your rental truck, so you chase it down and manage to set the brake just before it reaches the neighbor's lawn.

You steal a cup of ice from the convenience store next door so your drinks can be properly chilled.

You are asked by an editor friend to come up with a true story of improvised genius, but you can't think of one, so instead you write about not coming up with one, offering a story you made up based on a synopsis of MacGyver episodes you read on the Internet.

And finally, a story that this reviewer made up:

You're a New York editor, who has sold a book idea about "improvised genius" to your publisher. You build a website, soliciting stories, but the stories you get are either not very good examples of "improvised genius" or not well written, or both. So you turn to all your writer friends and pester them for stories. Most of the stories aren't very good examples of IG, but they are well written, so you use them.

Improvised? Yes. Genius? No.
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By BEAR on March 12, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Great Idea, terrible execution. I've never written an Amazon Book Review before but I was so disappointed in this book that I just had to write this and warn others. If I paid $[...] for this book, the author and publisher would owe me about $[...]. This book is almost 90% fluff stories which bear almost no resemblance to a clever McGyver story. The content seems to have been submitted largely by writer wanna-be's not clever real world McGyver's. I forced myself to finished the book just so I could feel justified in writing such a bad review. The book is not written badly, the stories are light and easy to read but - I have no idea what anyone was thinking who decided some of these stories had anything to do with McGyver example: [My boyfriend started freaking out on a plane after some turbulence so I asked the big guy in the row behind me to subdue my boyfriend] - that's it no clever solution. Many of the stories are similarly off-base in trying to claim to be McGyver-esque. Yes their are a handful of stories which met my expectations about the type of content and story - but these were very few, far between, and not particularly clever. The worst part about this book is it took a rather excellent premise and ruined it.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By J. B. Land on February 1, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book is a total let-down. The supposed MacGuyverisms are few and far between, and the best "Stories of Improvised Genius" just amount to execises in common sense. The author should be ashamed for using such a gimmick for a book of brief, mostly dull anecdotes.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By B. Cowger on December 29, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I recently purchased this book, very excited to get a bunch of real MacGyver-type stories. Unfortunately, I only got through the first three before having to give up.

Does the author really think the real MacGyver would be proud of these three? Knitting needle as a clutch cable pin? Yawn. Snack mix for traction? Is he serious? And here's a beauty: Waiting for someone else to come by because you're so worthless at fixing your own muffler? They don't exactly grab you... Certainly not anything close to what the real MacGyver would do.

Perhaps there are better, more worthy stories later in the book. I'll never find out. The three I listened to attempted to be so "eloquent" that they became nauseatingly "cutesy". Way too verbose for the actual amount of informational value. Self-celebratory to the point of being repulsive.

I loved the show, and with equal emotion, loathe this book.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Adam C Duclos on August 11, 2010
Format: Paperback
I was extremely disappointed in this book. For an author who purports to be a MacGuyver fan of the highest caliber, I find he misses the point in just about every story. Judging from the books taglines, I might expect nifty stories about how people had to fix things in interesting ways. By and large, that was not the case. Also, he had a really annoying writing style, where he would introduce all of the upcoming stories by giving away the plot and ending of each one. Way to ruin the only thing your book had going for it, moron! I get that if you didn't do that, none of the book would actually be written by you, but then I guess you shouldn't have gleaned a bunch of stupid stories from wannabe writers instead of actual MacGuyverism's, then asked them to write them themselves


There were two stories that I liked. A dude fixed his car in the middle of nowhere using a knitting needle. As I said earlier, I'm not really giving anything away here, since the author spells this out for you before you hear the story. Another guy fixes a dudes tire in a novel way. Okay then!

The rest were awful. A guy's family needs to lift a deck up a few feet so they can reattach it to the house. So they use four car jacks. Imagine that, what genious to use jacks to lift something heavy. Damn it all, they even had one for each corner! How is that a MacGuyverism? That was the exact thing thing they needed, in the exact number they needed!

A guy's apartment is hot, so he tries to make an air conditioner from scratch. All he has is a fan and a bucket. How does he MacGuyver this? He goes to Home Depot and buys all the rest of the stuff he needs. Fail!

Some girl is friends with another girl who is severely asthmatic.
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