Book Review – Defending Your Castle by William Gurstelle

Defending Your Castle
(Build Catapults, Crossbows, Moats, Bulletproof Shields, and More Defensive Devices to Fend Off the Invading Hordes)
by William Gurstelle
Publisher: Chicago Review Press
Release Date: June 1, 2014


Why would a blog devoted to horror, sci-fi, and fantasy review a book about home defenses? The answer should be obvious, and I can sum it up for you in two words: zombie apocalypse. That’s right. When the living dead rise and seek to feast upon your flesh, what better way to ward them off than with a catapult? And if THE WALKING DEAD has taught us anything, it’s that crossbows are better than guns because arrows are easier to replace than bullets. So why not build your own? Author and engineer William Gurstelle enlightens and entertains with the informative and fun book, DEFENDING YOUR CASTLE, a guide to fortifying your home for the ages. Chocked full of pictures and diagrams (including instructions and how-tos), this is one book every DIY aficionado will want to own.

If you are not familiar with DEFENDING YOUR CASTLE, here is the book’s synopsis courtesy of Chicago Review Press:

A man’s home is his castle, or so the saying goes, but could it withstand an attack by Attila and the Huns, Ragnar and the Vikings, Alexander and the Greeks, Genghis Khan and the Mongols, or Tamerlane and the Tartars? Backyard Ballistics author William Gurstelle poses this fascinating question to modern-day garage warriors and shows them how to build an arsenal of ancient artillery and fortifications aimed at withstanding these invading hordes. Each chapter introduces a new bad actor in the history of warfare, details his conquests, and features weapons and fortifications to defend against him and his minions. Clear step-by-step instructions, diagrams, and photographs show how to build a dozen projects, including “Da Vinci’s Catapult,” “Carpini’s Crossbow,” a “Crusader-Proof Moat,” “Alexander’s Tortoise,” and the “Cheval-de-frise.” With a strong emphasis on safety, the book also gives tips on troubleshooting, explains the physics behind many of the projects, and shows where to buy the materials. By the time they’ve reached the last page, at-home defenders everywhere will have succeeded in creating a fully fortified home.

I have to tell you: this book is an absolute joy to read. It is witty and insightful, and yet crammed to the hilt with information. I daresay it is a refreshing perspective on what could otherwise be dull, textbook like data. And while it doesn’t technically discuss zombies or any other end-of-the-world scenario, the information contained within would be invaluable in the event of such an occurrence.

DEFENDING YOUR CASTLE is written well and presents a slew of information in an easy-to-understand format. The illustrations and pictures are precise and informative, eye-catching images that spice up the text in a variety of ways. The instructions are crisp and clear, but they are also presented with specific warnings and cautions; these are included to help not only the average handyman, but even the most veteran of builders. The result is a top-notch guide in which every homeowner should invest.

I particularly like how each chapter pertains to a different and unique ‘threat’. For example, one is devoted to the Huns, another to the vikings, a third to the Mongols, and so on. These groups attacking a modern-day house are somewhat humorous in concept, however they form the basis for which these designs are founded. They also help show the reader why a particular defense might be necessary.

In addition to defensive plans (for items such as moats, walls, watchtowers, and shields), the book offers several offensive option plans as well, for things mentioned above, such as catapults and crossbows. This diversity allows you to choose what methodology to plan for when mapping out the goals for your home.

DEFENDING YOUR CASTLE is a major win for me, and I recommend it to every person concerned about home protection. Whether you are a doomsday prepper, a zombie apocalypse defender, or even just an average citizen, this is one guide you will want to add to your library immediately; it might just save your life in addition to changing it. The book is available now in a variety of formats.


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