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The Art of the Catapult: Build Greek Ballistae, Roman Onagers, English Trebuchets, and More Ancient Artillery Paperback – July 1, 2004
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Grade 5 Up–This collection of 10 working catapult projects offers a fascinating look at world history, military strategy, and physics, related with an engaging yet lighthearted touch. This historical context makes the projects all the more interesting. The working model of the Macedonian Ballista is cool, but even more so when one learns the role that catapults played in the campaigns of Alexander the Great. Instructions are clear, with full materials lists, helpful diagrams, and no skipped steps. Saw and drill are often required, along with hardware store purchases such as PVC pipe or specifically sized wood. Some of the finished results are large, such as God's Stone Thrower, a 5' x 5' construction with considerable flinging power, while a couple are smaller, tabletop-sized models that still propel successfully. Since the ultimate object is to fling things through the air, there is repeated emphasis on safety, including a first chapter entitled "Always Be Careful," an "adult supervision required" statement for every construction, and repeated warnings within the text. As for projectiles, water balloons, peanuts, and plastic cows are mentioned among "suitable ammunition," rather than the venomous snakes, cattle manure, or severed heads referred to in the historical portions. There's excellent booktalk potential here, and lively reading even for those who never get around to constructing a catapult.–Steven Engelfried, Beaverton City Library, OR
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"Fascinating." -- Seattle Post-Intelligencer
"Puts the weapons in context of their times." -- Sacramento Bee
"This book is a hoot . . . the modern version of Fun for Boys and Harpers Electricity for Boys." -- Natural History
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