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Download Catapult: Harry and I Build a Siege Weapon epub

by Jim Paul

An “enormously entertaining” (Smithsonian), “clever, subtle, and adroit” account (Wall Street Journal) of how the author and his friend constructed a medieval siege engine in a San Francisco backyard. “So funny that I could not put it down” (Los Angeles Times).
Download Catapult: Harry and I Build a Siege Weapon epub
ISBN: 0156005565
ISBN13: 978-0156005562
Category: Literature
Subcategory: United States
Author: Jim Paul
Language: English
Publisher: Harvest Books; Reprint edition (October 15, 1997)
Pages: 272 pages
ePUB size: 1898 kb
FB2 size: 1446 kb
Rating: 4.7
Votes: 549
Other Formats: lrf azw mobi lit

Great book. I bought and read this years ago because the title just sounded ridiculous. After reading it, I realized how it should probably be required reading for pretty much anyone who lives in our civilization these days. A lot of it is tongue in cheek, but the adventure the author and his friend go through just trying to build a catapult (although I think it's a ballista they actually build) is really funny. Even the government gets involved because they're concerned as to why two educated guys would be building a "weapon of mass destruction" and when they say it's just to shoot rocks into the ocean, the military officer questioning them can't see why anyone would want to waste a weapon on something so mundane.

Love the book. I lost it originally when I moved across the country and then recently bought it again so I could read it one more time.
I was at a reading party with friends, taking turns reciting passages from our favorate books and I noticed than Mary had a book called "Catapult." I instantly realized that I had to have it.
You see, I've built siege weapons myself. Granted they are mere models but I do have greater vision.
To be honest, Jim Paul's story was a little dissappointing. He prose is good and, as a writer, he is accomplished, but I think he missed out somewhat on the true wonder of hurling objects great distances. Oh sure, he realizes while he's actually throwing rocks over the cliff that he's having fun, he later retreats from this joy, back into the world of the serious artist that must find deeper meaning in such a 'performance piece.' The catapult that Jim and his friend Harry spent so much time, money and spiritual energy was used on one morning and then put away.
I found the three chapters chronicling the development of the attom bomb to be needlessly philosophical and not really on the topic of ancient siege engines. His other historical asides were very interresting and clearly on topic, although, his story of Napoleon's catapult was actually a trebuchet.
Which brings me to another little personal nit: Jim Paul derrides the medieval trebuchet, a counterweight device, as being "imprecise, immovable, liable to break down and generally stupid." As a builder of these devices, I can attest that, when properly built they are highly accurate an consistant device. A small device I made would consistantly hit a man-sized target 30 yards away with a golf ball. Trebuchets, using the smooth and constant acceleration of gravity to power them, are less prone to the catastrophic breakage that can happen with a torsion machine and, with less stresses, the machines were able to be built larger and have a greater payload than any previous design.
OK, so I've taken that a little personally.
Anyway, if your looking for some inspiration to build something a little on the wild side, "Catapult" is a geed book to read. I would like to see someone out there do a similar thing, but from the point of view of someone who knows it's going to be really neat and a lot of fun. There are certainly people out there who have built these great machines for just those reasons. Hey! You with the siege engine! Tell me your story and we'll write a book! Any takers?
Kevin Geiselman END
adventure time
Enjoyable book. I generally liked the digressions from the main plot into the history of siege weapons, but a few of them seemed way off the point of the narrative.
I loved this book so much, after I lent it to someone and it never came home I just had to buy it again. It's an easy read and so delightful you don't realize how educational it is!
A scholarly, touching parallel tale of a male friendship and the history of armaments.
This is NOT intended as a "technical" handbook on making catapults: If that's your thing, you should probably try to find the equivalent of "Medieval Soldiers of Fortune." Nor is it a popular mechanics book primarily for men; just as fine arts are not, of course, just for women.
Instead, it is a book about two men who build an anachonism, and have fun while doing it. Inspired by a Scientific American volume, delving into ancient and contemporary history (they meet the inventor of the "Ozzy Osbourne Liver Launcher," a catapult designed to fling cow organs into the audience, but which, in its beta version, splattered security personnel on stage) they recount the difficulties of recreating a centuries-old weapon without DOD funding (although they succeed in winning a $500 grant from a local Arts Center "to observe the impulse to shoot a catapult").
The authors describe the catapult's history, with notes on the development, historical use, and mechanics of other weapons. All of this is interesting, but is not the heart of the book: How two contemporary adults--with the vague and unencumbered fascination of the naive--transcend limited mechanical and material resources and build something transcendent and personal, both art and science. Self-indulgent? Perhaps. But clear, plain writing and a nice eye for detail make this entertaining and unusual story work.
Jim Paul is an author who perfected a genre of writing - creative non fiction. In Catapult, Jim and Harry convince an art foundation to fund their project, building a life size seige weapon. Inspired by rocks they collected and can't wait to launch, they scrounge parts and tools to fashion the weapon, and finally get permission to stage their launching on the Marin headlands near SF, but the permit has a notation, "simulated rocks"only. Although the narrative itself ends in a one time use performance of the machine, the action, trailing connections to medieval and modern warfare, transforms the horror of killing into the wonder of playing. Jim is a great writer, bringing mystery and serendipity into simple actions, e.g. looking for springs and other metal parts. His musing about the history and the engineering of seige weapons is only a part of the researched information the reader will ingest as easily as the story about artists and whimsical passions.