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Beyond the Icarus Factor: Releasing the Free Spirit of Boys Paperback – February 12, 2008

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Editorial Reviews


"Beyond the Icarus Factor is a call to reconsider the place of boys in the family, schools, and community institutions that rob them of their inborn vitality and resourcefulness. . . . What happens to our boys when they're still boys is critical to our future. I hope you read this book." (Chiwah, The Light Connection, April 08)

"Hawley details the current state on the battlefield with numerous case histories and examples. He draws, too, from psychology, philosophy, poetry, and literature. He makes us feel the essence of puer-spirit as both a wonder and a tragedy. . . . I would recommend this book to those alarmed adults who suspect the problem of boys is one society created." (Bruce Bibee, Alaska Wellness, Vol. 13, No. 4, Jul/Aug 08)

From the Back Cover


In Beyond the Icarus Factor, Richard Hawley sounds the clarion call to unleash, promote, and celebrate the dangerous pursuits that are an essential part of the creativity and daring nature of boys. Hawley’s many years as headmaster of a boys’ school have convinced him that boys have a unique, intrinsic, and inalienable free-spirit nature--a puer spirit--that embraces life as an adventure full of possibilities and joyous energy. Boys are innate questers and seekers, and unless they are frightened or forced to do other­wise, they will be inclined to attempt seemingly impossible feats--and achieve them--just as Icarus did when he flew to the sun.

Hawley sees deep flaws in the way we--as parents, educators, and community members--alter or suppress that true nature in order to turn boys into men that fit our societal template. He argues that the “model man” in our society, while seemingly successful in his role, may yet be unhappy in his life. The very elements that we strip away from a boy’s natural tendencies are the sources of vitality that can give his life both meaning and satisfaction. Without these, he has lost his essential nature.

A new approach is needed, says Hawley, and he goes to the roots of Western theology and philosophy to locate what has gone wrong and how those consequences might be addressed. Fantasy and imagination must not be trumped by cognition and problem solving. We must learn to look beyond the myth of Icarus so that we do not hold our boys back with our fears of failure but instead give them the tools and support they need to create wings good enough to fly wherever they wish to go.

RICHARD HAWLEY, Ph.D., was for thirty-seven years a teacher, counselor, coach, and then headmaster of University School, a college preparatory school in Cleveland, Ohio. He is the founding president of the International Boys’ Schools Coalition and has lectured widely on youth and school-related issues in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, and Australia. The author of sixteen books, including The Headmaster’s Papers and Boys Will Be Men: Masculinity in Troubled Times, he lives in Vermont.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Park Street Press (February 12, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594772282
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594772283
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,065,752 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Richard Hawley is a lifelong teacher and writer. The retired headmaster of Cleveland's University School and founding president of the International Boys' School Coalition (IBSC), he has published more than twenty books, including several novels, collections of poetry, and non-fiction works, principally about children, schools, and learning. His first novel, THE HEADMASTER'S PAPERS, won a number of literary prizes. John Irving dedicated a chapter to the novel in Michael Ondaatje's anthology LOST CLASSICS. Hawley's most recent collection of poems is TWENTY-ONE VISITS WITH A DARKLY SUN TANNED ANGEL. Recent non-fiction books include BOYS WILL BE MEN, BEYOND THE ICARUS FACTOR, and (with Michael Reichert) REACHING BOYS/TEACHING BOYS. Hawley's essays, articles and poems have appeared in dozens of magazines and journals including The Atlantic, American Film, America, Orion, Commonweal, The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, and The New England Journal of Medicine. For ten years he taught fiction and non-fiction writing at The Bread Loaf Writers Conference, and he continues to teach writers in a variety of settings. He has addressed audiences at schools, colleges, educational conferences, and public forums throughout the United States, Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand. He lives with his wife, the artist Mary Hawley, in Ripton Vermont. More about his work is available at the website

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Gary Margolis on May 22, 2008
Format: Paperback
In clear and inspired prose, Richard Hawley encourages us to understand how and why it is imperative that we see, hear, and feel--that is, to truly recognize--the spirit in and of boys that validates and allows them to be and become the men our country and the world needs them to be.

Gary Margolis Ph.D.
Exectuvie Director,
Center for Counseling and Human Relations
Middlebury College,
Middlebury VT 05753
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Format: Paperback
Great book for all parents to read. I found it very helpful in understanding my father, my boyfriend and even myself. Well written and very readable.
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