2010: The Golden Anniversary of the best year ever for DIY Books

1960 was a truly golden year in the annals of DIY history. Fifty years ago some of the most important how-to books in the history of making cool things came out.

I wrote in BB last June that 2010 marks the Golden Anniversary of the publication of Bertram Brinley's Rocket Making for Amateurs – that book was the bomb, (kind of literally I should add). Brinley was a US Army colonel and had the cool sounding title of official liaison between the US government and all civilian rocket enthusiasts. In the heyday of Sputnik, Explorer, Echo, and Pioneer, geeks and technophiles monkeyed with rocket fuels like micrograin and ammonium perchlorate instead of silicon and optical fiber.

The book's cover price reads 75 cents. Buying a copy today in a used bookstore will set you back about $200. But it's that good. I bought it when I was researching the roll-your-own rocket motor section in my book Absinthe and Flamethrowers.

Besides RMFA, it's the golden anniversary of another seminal book for people who love to make cool things: The Golden Book of Chemistry Experiments. The rumor on this book is that it was banned by the government and removed from libraries because the projects were too dangerous for the intended audience of junior high school aged children. Well, maybe, as it does provide instruction in the production of chlorine gas from toilet cleaner and bleach, but still. . .

golden book chlorine.jpg
While you can't buy it new (and used copies on Amazon are really pricey) you can download a pdf on Anne Marie Helmenstine's excellent chemistry page at About.com.