Cover image for Don't try this at home : how to win a sumo match, catch a great white shark, start an independent nation, and other extraordinary feats (for ordinary people)
Don't try this at home : how to win a sumo match, catch a great white shark, start an independent nation, and other extraordinary feats (for ordinary people)
Fulghum, Hunter S. (Hunter Samuel)
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Broadway Books, 2002.
Physical Description:
xvii, 264 pages : illustrations ; 20 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
G525 .F957 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
G525 .F957 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



A step-by-step guide to performing the death-defying stunts you thought were only possible in the movies.

For the millions of armchair daredevils who made Worst Case Scenario a mega bestzseller, Hunter Fulghum offers an even more hair-raising handbook. The result of persistent probing, diligent research, and outrageous phone calls to institutions like Fort Knox and the Pentagon, Don't Try This at Home gives thrill seekers everywhere the insider information they crave to show them how to perform feats such as:

*Conduct a SWAT Team hostage

*Rappel off the Eiffel Tower

*Borrow the Mona Lisa

*Form an independent nation

*Break into Buckingham Palace

*Catch a great white shark

*Meet aliens at Area 51

Filled with step-by-step instructions, including lists of necessary tools, timing tips, and helpful illustrations, Don't Try This at Home provides the ultimate guide to doing the impossible.

Author Notes

HUNTER S. FULGHUM is the author of several other books, including Like Father, Like Son ; Office Dirty Tricks; and You're Not Getting Better, You're Getting Older . Currently a project manager for Turner eTechnologies, he lives near Seattle, Washington.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

From the author of Like Father, Like Son (1996) comes this comical how-to guide for people with really weird ambitions. Want to break into Fort Knox? Sink an enemy submarine? Catch the Loch Ness Monster? Fulghum tells you how, sort of. The book is formatted like a typical how-to guide: each chapter contains a list of necessary supplies, step-by-step instructions, and an estimate of the time required to complete the project. But listen to this: two of the necessary items for breaking into Fort Knox are an outgoing personality and a truck full of cows. Smuggling top-secret documents requires the services of two Boy Scouts stationed on either side of the U.S.-Canadian border and a reversible windbreaker. It's this combination of the mundane and the bizarre that keeps the chuckles coming. Although the book is not quite a spoof--the instructions often make a delirious kind of sense--Fulghum's tongue is firmly in his cheek. (The goal of breaking into Buckingham Palace, for example, is to short-sheet the prince of Wales' bed). Call this one Mission: Hysterical. --David Pitt

Publisher's Weekly Review

Chances are slim that you'll ever need-or want-to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel or tow an iceberg to a drought-stricken nation, but improbability certainly hasn't stopped the extreme-situation how-to juggernaut launched by Joshua Piven and David Borgenicht, creators of the original Worst-Case Scenario book and its multiplying cousins. But while the Piven-Borgenicht volumes offer advice that just might be helpful-it's possible, after all, that you would someday need to jump off a building into a dumpster-Fulghum takes the loony route, offering tips on how to do what you never should: chop down an old-growth sequoia, sink a submarine, break into Fort Knox, Buckingham Palace or Area 51. Fulghum's dry sense of humor enlivens the chapters of offbeat challenges, each with its own shopping list of items needed to pull the stunts off. To sink a submarine, for example, "one Oliver Hazard Perry-class (FFG-7) antisubmarine frigate" is necessary ("arrange for use through the U.S. Department of Defense," he notes). Fulghum even suggests how long each project will take (six months to a year to form an independent nation, three to five days to chop down that 200-foot sequoia). This is a detailed, amusing and utterly useless read for anyone who wants to know how to do something zany-without actually wanting to do it. (Sept. 17) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved



CONDUCT A SWAT-TEAM HOSTAGE RESCUE What You Will Need *Two hostage negotiators with throw-phone--a dedicated, hard-wired telephone that can be delivered to the hostage-takers (literally by throwing it) if no other means of secure communications is available. *One sniper team (one sniper, one spotter) with sniper rifles (SIGARMS Blaser R93 .300 caliber or the EDM Arms Windrunner .50 caliber, for example), scopes, and ammunition *One hostage rescue team (HRT), six-ten members *One breaching team (two-four specialists in making openings) *Battle Dress Uniform (BDU) clothing and web gear (an equipment harness made of nylon straps or "webbing"), soft-soled boots (Tac boot by Rocky or Fort Lewis Go Devils by Danner), balaclava, all in black *Type 3 Kevlar body armor (add reinforcing ceramic plates if you suspect rifles or automatic weapons are present), Kevlar gloves, ballistic eye protection (Gargoyles), ballistic helmet *Heckler & Koch (H&K) MP-5 submachine gun (suppressors optional)--carry four 30-round magazines *H&K USP .45-caliber handgun with extra magazines *Flash-bangs (stun grenades) *Smoke grenades and tear gas *Two-way radios, including throat mikes and earpieces (use a secure unit that scrambles transmission) *Fiber-optic video camera--a low-profile camera system that allows you to insert a small, unobtrusive camera into a room or space through a small opening (under a door, for example) and scan a room without being seen. *Flashlight *Doorstops, nylon straps (use one-inch tubular weave), knee pads, handcuffs, pepper spray, knife (switchblade recommended), personal first-aid kit *Canteen and water *Optional: night-vision equipment (for nighttime or areas with poor lighting and visibility) Time Required Varies, depending on gathering the teams at the site, the situation, and the time for appraisal and planning/rehearsal. Assume a minimum of 90 minutes to a maximum of 48 hours. Background General policy within the U.S. law enforcement and military community is that the demands of the hostage-taker are not met. It is felt that doing so only encourages others to take similar actions. Special training is provided to select individuals in the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and local law enforcement in hostage rescue and supporting skills. In the case of most agencies, this is covered by the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams. Frequently these teams are involved in difficult or exceptional situations, those in which the high level of training is required. Hostage rescue is one of the more difficult and dangerous challenges for a SWAT team. In these scenarios, a large group of specialists is brought in, including hostage negotiators, sniper teams, breaching teams (specializing in making openings), and the assault team(s). In a perfect setup, all these people will be in place quickly, ready to go. However, these situations are dynamic and do not follow scripts. The ability to apply training and judgment to adapt to the conditions is essential. In our scenario, approximately ten hostages are being held in the customer service offices of a major software company by an unidentified group of domestic terrorists. Contact with the terrorists has been limited to a patrol officer being warned to keep away. The building is two stories with an office lobby in front and a loading dock and maintenance area in the rear. There is also roof access to the building. Instructions CONTROL THE PERIMETER AND ASSEMBLE YOUR TEAM Before the SWAT team arrives on the scene, the situation has been identified and patrol officers have established a perimeter around the incident area, approximately 300 yards away from the building. All civilians are being kept back from this area. Have patrol officers begin collecting intelligence on the situation. Identify the location of all utilities (water, gas, electric) and the shut-off points for the building where the hostages are being held. Contact the building's owner and gather detailed information about the layout, access points, the direction doors swing, etc. If multiple or alternate access points (back doors, roof hatches, etc.) exist, identify their location and configuration. If photographs, videotapes, or blueprints and plans of the building are available, get them. Best of all, if there are any active surveillance cameras or web-cams in the building, get access to them. These will be of invaluable assistance. If the cameras can pan or tilt, leave them as close to their original location as possible to avoid tipping the terrorists off that you are watching them. Contact the telephone company and have the telephones to the building "locked down" and linked to a phone or phones you designate. By locking the phone down, you will isolate the terrorists from any contact except with you, unless they have cell phones or radios. You can hold the throw-phone for emergencies (such as the regular phone line getting cut). The members of your SWAT team are on call and carry their equipment with them, so it will take minimal time to assemble the complete team. However, some delay is possible. Confer with the on-site tactical commander and establish a quick response plan based on your available team and resources. In the event of a life-threatening situation developing rapidly, the available members of the team must be prepared to take immediate action. COMMENCE NEGOTIATIONS The first step in the hostage rescue is to talk to the terrorists. Hostage negotiation is a skill combining an understanding of the psychology and behavior of the hostage-taker(s) and their motivations with a degree of gut feel for the situation. Your negotiator will contact the terrorists, calling in on a telephone in the building or through the throw phone. His first efforts will be to resolve the crisis without the use of force or loss of life, if possible, and without conceding to any demands. PLANNING AND REHEARSAL During the negotiation, finish collecting information on the situation, with real-time updates from the negotiator and other sources, and plan the rescue. In the planning stage of the hostage rescue, five elements are considered: *The situation: What has happened? While it might seem obvious, the conditions of the hostage situation are essential. You need to understand who the hostage-takers are, how many of them there are, and if they have injured or killed anyone. This, taken with the field conditions, will define much of your approach. A smaller SWAT team may be used for only one or two terrorists. If the access to the building is tight, limiting mobility at any one point, you may choose to insert two teams simultaneously. *The mission: What does the SWAT team need to accomplish, beyond rescuing the hostages? Are there other elements of concern, such as hazardous materials or an explosive device? If so, planning may need to include an Explosive Ordinance Device team (the bomb squad) or Hazardous Materials (Haz-Mat) team. *The execution: What is the plan for rescuing the hostages? This is going to depend on the terrain, the number of hostage-takers and their weapons and frame of mind, the hostages, etc. No two situations are going to be exactly the same, and the situation may change during the rescue, so flexibility is essential. In the case of this rescue, the execution will be based on drawing the terrorists' attention toward the front of the building while the SWAT team makes an unobserved entry through the rear. *Administration/logistics: What materials and resources are needed and what is available? The situation may require a number of different items, from a hostage phone to special listening equipment. Make sure you know what you need before you start. *Command and communication: Who is in charge, and how will orders and reports be handled? It is essential that the control structure be clear, to avoid any confusion in orders. Miscommunication costs lives. A tactical commander will have overall direction and may order a withdrawal, but the SWAT team leader, you, bears responsibility for the rescue once it starts. It is essential for everyone to understand all of these elements to avoid confusion once the operation begins. Based on the information available, develop the rescue plan. One of the first decisions to make is whether the rescue will be quiet and stealthy, or rapid and loud. If the layout of the building and the resources allow, you may choose to make a quiet entry. This is done best when you can move to the building unobserved and gain access in a spot the hostage-takers are unlikely to be watching. Roof access hatches, below-ground entries, and other similar points are good choices. Most hostage-takers will focus on front or back doors. Given the situation, a diversion and a stealthy entry are the best approach. Supporting patrol officers will make a feint at a main entry to distract the terrorists while the assault team moves in from another direction. Once the plan has been developed and rehearsed to your satisfaction, prepare your team. Your sniper team will select a spot of their own choice, where they can see the scene and gather intelligence on the conditions, which they will relay back to you. If possible, they will choose a spot that allows them to take out terrorists should this become necessary. Sniper teams operate in pairs, with one person acting as the shooter while the other works as a spotter and protects the sniper. The assault team should assemble and suit up, as should the breaching team. DISCREET MOVEMENT Move your team to the jump-off point as unobtrusively as possible. Keep journalists from observing your approach and deployment. A marine colonel in the intelligence-gathering business once said that CNN was a great source of information about what his enemy was up to. Don't forget that terrorists and hostage-takers may have a portable television, radio, or cell-phone contact with people watching or listening to the news. Do not assume that cutting the power or communication lines causes a total information blackout for the terrorists. Approach in a way that provides maximum concealment from the terrorists and others. The rule is easiest approach with maximum cover, with an alternate path if available. Always keep your line of retreat in mind and open. Advance in single file with three-paces separation between each team member. When you have reached the jump-off position (your initial entry point into the building), stack the assault team. Line up tightly and in single file, with your H&K MP-5s ready with the safeties off. As the number one man in the stack, you will be in the front. Reach behind you and squeeze the thigh of the number two man. He or she will pass the squeeze to the next teammate, who will do the same, until the squeeze has been passed all the way to the last in the stack. This is to ask if each team member is ready. The last member in line will squeeze the shoulder of the teammate ahead of him, indicating a go to proceed, which then gets passed forward. Once this reaches you, you will enter the building. DIVERSION, ASSAULT, AND THREAT NEUTRALIZATION Enter the building through the designated door or access point. As the team enters a new room, cover and clear the space. Each team member covers a portion of the room to check for terrorists, hostages, or unusual conditions. When you approach the area with the hostages, use your fiber-optic camera to look into the room and assess the situation, noting the location of the terrorists and hostages. Communicate this to your team through hand gestures and contact the tactical commander, informing him of your readiness to make a last check to proceed, and, assuming a go, initiate the diversion. This will begin a 60-second countdown to detonation of a flash-bang smoke grenade at the front entry of the building. Be prepared to throw your own flash-bangs into the area with the terrorists as soon as diversion at the front door begins. As soon as the diversion begins, throw or roll two flash-bangs into the room. As they detonate, enter the room with your team rapidly. Shout "get down" repeatedly. The hostages will drop to the floor. Your team members will identify and target the hostage-takers. You must determine quickly if they are a threat or not. If they appear to offer surrender, keep them targeted and be prepared to shoot until they are disarmed, facedown on the floor, and subdued with handcuffs. If the terrorists seem intent on resisting you, threaten a hostage, or appear to draw a weapon, shoot them. Shoot for body mass, two shots minimum, unless you have reason to believe they are wearing body armor. If so, aim for the head. The mantra repeated by SWAT team members is "Two in the chest, one in the head, makes a bad guy good and dead." Disarm and subdue any terrorists, and make sure that you have accounted for all of them. Hostages may be able to confirm that all terrorists are present or note when one or more left the area. If there are terrorists missing, other officers will enter the scene to take control of the terrorists and hostages, escorting them from the building while you sweep the area. important note: It is unlikely, but nevertheless possible, that an apparent hostage may in fact be a terrorist. Be sure to account for all guns and identify all persons. The members of the SWAT team should not lower their weapons or ease up until they are comfortable that the situation is completely under control. Once the situation is under control with patrol officers handling the scene, the SWAT team may step down and leave the site for a debriefing. TOW AN ICEBERG TO A DROUGHT-STRICKEN NATION What You Will Need *One Mobile Ice Tow System (MITS) *Three remotely operated vehicles (ROVs)--robotic mini-subs equipped with manipulator arms and color video cameras. *Several thousand square meters of waterproof, fiber-reinforced plastic--a commercial tarp manufacturer will be able to provide this to order. *Six ocean-going tugboats, each with radio, radar, and eight-person crews--ships and crews can be hired through a commercial ship-leasing agent or one of the major salvage companies *Towlines (30-40,000 feet of wire rope, two-four inches in diameter)--typically these will be provided by the tugboat owners *Technical team, including three ROV operators, two ROV technicians, six professional scuba divers, and five-seven general support staff *One drain kit--three three-inch, remotely operated valves, three 500-foot lengths of three-inch fire hose, and three water pumps *Scuba equipment, including dry suits, buoyancy-control devices, air tanks, fins, masks, weights, underwater lights, and miscellaneous gear *Waterproof explosives and detonator cord--you will need a permit to purchase these. *Air compressor for the scuba tanks *Access to imagery provided by a polar-orbiting observation satellite--available off the Internet. *Duct tape Time Required Three months. Background Towing icebergs can serve several purposes. They can be removed from shipping lanes and beached where they pose no threat to navigation. There is a market for glacial water due to its purity and age. For humanitarian reasons, though, it is better to use your ice supply for drought relief. Excerpted from Don't Try This at Home: How to Win a Sumo Match, Catch a Great White Shark, Start an Independent Nation and Other Extraordinary Feats (for Ordinary People) by Hunter S. Fulghum All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.