Mini Weapons of Mass Destruction

If I could travel back in time and give my early adolescent self a gift of potentiation and portends of power, it would be a copy of John Austin’s Mini Weapons of Mass Destruction. If I were my father, on the other hand, I’d take that book away from me in a most timely and uncompromising manner, hide it in a place where only I could find it, and read it from cover to cover.

On yet another hand, my going on 8-, going on 21-year old granddaughter loves this book.

Mini Weapons of Mass Destruction contains 241 pages of detailed, painstakingly illustrated instructions for making (and here I read from the table of contents) launchers and bows, slingshots, darts, catapults, combustion shooters (combustion shooters!), minibombs and claymore mines, and, finally, concealing books and targets.

Did I mention combustion shooters? Like the famous match rocket which you can make out of paper or wooden matches, with nothing more than aluminum foil, a needle or pin, a medium binder clip (Austin loves those binder clips), a toothpick and a large paper clip? O, there are warnings. “Eye protection and a safe firing range are musts” declares the ever-pragmatic Austin. “Match rocketry is not an exact science,” he cautions, “misfires and modifications will be needed to find the perfect balance.” Match rockets! How inexorably cool is that?

There are two things that make Mini Weapons of Mass Destruction such a fun read: 1) every “weapon” is made out of common household objects, and 2) the instructions are exceptionally clear and well-illustrated. OK. There are three things: 3) the sheer ingenuity of the designs. It’s the very kind of book MacGuyver might have read during his training course. For fun. Of course.

Want more? Visit John’s site. Learn a little about him. Print out a few targets. Get instructions for building more. Meditate on the nuances of “implements of spitball warfare.”

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