I bought this book after seeing the author on the Colbert show (or was it the Daily Show?). I loved the idea of the book and ordered it from Amazon immediately.
On arrival if found it exceeds my expectation. It reminds me a lot of the Popular Mechanics books from the 30's & 40's that I found in my grandmothers attic when I was a kid.
The style is archaic, which is part of the charm. My 6 year old son, who really isn't into "chapter books", went nuts for this book. I think this mostly had to do with the title, but as we scanned each chapter together he seemed to get more and more excited.
Before his bed time we read "coin tricks", "Girls" and he started planning how to get the badges found in the back of the book. He managed to learn the "French Drop" and proceeded to show everyone his new trick. Tomorrow he wants to hear about hunting and cooking rabbits.
My wife was a bit nervous about the book, especially after seeing the section on hunting and cooking a rabbit. But I think she liked the section on "Girls" and she realizes that this book is targeted to boys, not Moms.
It's definitely a hit. I will be reading chapters out of it to my son for some time to come. But I don't mind and will probably learn a thing or two myself.
It's more than a year later. The book is dog-eared, dirty and worn but my (now) 7 year old still reads and loves this book. I doubt there is a better review you can get from a 7 year old.
on May 30, 2007
I have been thoroughly enjoying the book, as has my son and thousands of boys (and dads!) in Great Britain and the US. What is it about this book that brings such excitement to so many?
If I had to offer my opinion, I would say that the appeal of this book is that it does not ask any boy to apologize for being a boy. Our culture is infested with the demand that boys forgo their God given call to grow up to be men, largely because we have adopted an unhealthy view of just what a man is. Whether our example be found in Homer Simpson, Ray Romano or the dad on Family Guy, men are portrayed as selfish imbeciles in a large portion of the media. Women are shown to be compassionate and intelligent, and they are usually given the role of the one who fixes the problems created by men. I have no doubt that most women are compassionate and intelligent, but the common negative portrayal of men is presented far too often, and frankly I'm tired of it.
This book has a different take on what it means to be a boy, which is important because boys grow up to be men. From a biblical standpoint, men are meant to lead their families and churches by serving them. Where can you find such a concept on the television? You can't. This is yet another reason to get this book in the hands of a boy and his dad and get them outside to explore the world, whether that be an excursion in the woods or even just in the back yard. But how does this book portray a boy? What ideals are encouraged?
I'm glad you asked.
I simply cannot take this book section by section. There are instructions meant to get a boy started in tying knots, making a bow and arrow, fishing and many other activities. These are expected out of a book about being a boy. But included with such topics are other mini-chapters about the wonders of the world, grammar, historical battles, understanding latitude and longitude (something I never grasped in a classroom), the Declaration of Independence, poetry, Latin phrases, literature the Ten Commandments and also how to talk to girls.
I mention talking to girls last, not because it is the last topic, but because I would like to highlight it for a moment. The first piece of advice about girls is to listen to them. The second is to avoid a long string of nervous jokes by listening to them. I'm sure that my wife wishes I had this book as a child! After this, romance is mentioned. Buying flowers is often not a good idea if you are young, because the girl will know your parents purchased them. I wouldn't have thought of that. Anonymous valentines are a good idea, due to the suspense the girl will have trying to figure out who's eye she has caught. Vulgarity of all forms is to be avoided at all costs. Respect for girls is given the utmost priority.
Is this what is so dangerous about this book? Is it the high value the authors place upon girls or is it the very fact that they say that girls and boys are not identical? Is it the suggestion that every boy should have band-aids available for the inevitable mishap, because our bodies do heal? Or is it the way this book portrays a healthy boy in a way that expresses both a boy's natural desire for adventure and the ideal of respectfulness for others? I really can't say for sure.
If I had to pick one way that this book is considered dangerous and why it has met some opposition, I would say that it is because The Dangerous Book for Boys resonates so well with dads who can only wish such a book was available to them when they were growing up, and because their sons by and large are reveling in the contemplation of spending Sunday afternoons and long summer days with their dads, rediscovering what it means to be a boy with their father acting as the primary instructor.
I give this book my highest praise and encourage every dad to buy it for their sons. If you have a boy, you really need to get this book. If you don't have any boys, I'm sure you know somebody who does.
And great for it!
It's dangerous because it brings back values from a time when personal responsibility was assumed, not assumed to be absent. Hunting with airguns is dangerous, but teaches that meat doesn't arrive on Earth wrapped in clear plastic. Anything to do with spies is dangerous, but codes and invisible inks are fun, can be used responsibly, and are an important part of history (n.b. the role of espionage in the American Revolution). Doing things with electricity like making batteries, electromagnets, and pocket lights is dangerous, but teaches some of fundements of the technologies that drive the modern world. Soccer is dangerous, I've seen kids break bones playing it, but it is good healthy fun, and the kids who broke bones openly and loudly resented having to sit out games while they recovered. Girls are dangerous in so many ways, but when treated with respect can make life better. Grammar is dangerous, especially in the hands of an attorney, but creates quite an advantage for those who master it.
All these things and more are discussed, and alternatives to XBox, Gameboy, PlayStation, etc are offered. This book is incredibly dangerous to proponents of a 'managed society' where everyone is protected from everything, and everyone is free and happy in exactly the proscribed fashion. And I'm OK with this. Because "the Dangerous Book for Boys" also encourages responsibility, manners, education, self-reliance, creativity, and a host of other values that receive lip-service but little actual support in mainstream America.
Several reviewers have expressed their displeasure with the phrase "for Boys". Get over it. Get some perspective; if this is the most important thing you can take a stand about, go visit a third world country and watch children walk half a mile for water every day. Who cares what it says on the cover? I bought it with a blond, blue-eyed, [...] girl in mind, and she loves it. If it is such a heartache to you, quit whining and write "The Dangerous Book for Girls" while my daughter reads this one.
For the rest of y'all, get this for any boy or girl of any age. This book is excellent and an investment in the future.
on May 10, 2007
Some books you hang onto because they are useful, or well written, or happy memories are associated with them. And then there are the select books that are so handsome, you keep them because of pride of ownership. THE DANGEROUS BOOK FOR BOYS is a keeper in all these categories. It is so durable and well designed, it is an absolute pleasure to hold and read.
As to its actual contents, it sits at the pinnacle of nonfiction for early teen and 'tween boys, alongside The Big Book of Boy Stuff by, er, yours truly. Anyway, the chapters in DANGEROUS BOOK are a glorious, encyclopedic hodge-podge. They range from the historical ("The Golden Age of Piracy") to the esoteric ("Grinding an Italic Nib"!) to the quite daring ("Understanding Grammar").
My kudos to the Brothers Iggulden for this retro look celebrating the secrets of boyhood. And again, neither gender nor age should restrict its readership; this book looks great sitting on anyone's nightstand.
on June 16, 2006
I just bought this book for my son, who is 8, after reading a review in the London Times. It is a great book! It covers all the fun things like how to make a paper airplane, build a tree house, and tie knots, as well as things like grammar and history. I read through the book last night; the section on 'Girls' cracked me up! We have the UK edition, so the history bits are British centric, but this may be different in a US edition. Either way, I'd still recommend it. Buy it for your boys, but read it yourself. Those knots may come in useful some day!
on June 15, 2007
"In this age of video games and cell phones, there must still be a place for knots, tree houses, and stories of incredible courage."
The quote above, from the introduction to Conn and Hall Iggulden's The Dangerous Book for Boys does a nice job of summing up the mission that the authors have embarked on with this book. Written in a nostalgic style that blends early 20th Century school textbooks with old editions of the Boy Scout Handbook, this is a how-to manual for helping boys learn how to have fun.
Although many of the ideas and activities presented here are decidedly old-fashioned, the authors make the case that they are needed now more than ever. In a world where kids are being encouraged to log in, blog, IM, text, and podcast, this book encourages outdoor activities and sneaks in a fair amount of civics, history, grammar, literature, and even poetry, all presented in a casual but meaningful tone.
This is a book that tells boys that it's okay to get dirty, to carry a pocket knife, to hunt and fish, to do carpentry and science experiments. It also tells boys that it's okay to read poetry and to use proper grammar, and to know the history of your country.
Originally published in the UK, this American edition has replaced cricket with stickball, and the chapter on the rules of football now uses the term "soccer". The history and geography chapters focus on the USA.
Of course, this book would not have its title without some activities that might be considered dangerous. Just about every parent is going to find something here that might make them a bit nervous, whether it be the chapter on how to hunt and skin a rabbit, the rules of Texas Hold 'Em, or the instructions on how to make a bow and arrows. Some might object to the inclusion of Stephen King and Ian Fleming on the list of "Books Every Boy Should Read", or to the chapter on playing Dungeons & Dragons.
But at the heart of this book is the idea that boys need to push some boundaries, and that boys HAVE been pushing boundaries throughout history.
Although written in an old-fashioned style, the book is very current with its information, and provides interactivity in the form a series of "badges" that can be earned at the book's website, dangerousbookforboys.com.
This is a fun, notalgic read for grownups, who might even find themselves wanting to catch up on some activities they may have missed out on in their own childhoods.
As for whether it will actually appeal to kids? I'm giving it to my nephew who turns eight next week with high hopes that this book will provide fun for years to come for him and his three younger brothers. We shall see if there really is still a place for knots, marbles, treehouses, codes, and paper boats.
on October 6, 2007
What memories this book brings! Forty years ago, the Boy Scout handbook had so many of the same themes as this book: first aid, the Morse code, use of a compass, the Constellations, knot tying, tree identification, etc. But this book has much more than that. There are also educational features, such as the Seven Wonders of the World, the Ten Commandments, the Declaration of Independence, the Fifty States, Famous Battles, Shakespeare, basic grammatical skills, Latin phrases, extraordinary stories, etc. As a science teacher, I appreciate its scientific content (e. g., puzzling questions, insects and spiders, fossils, making crystals, building a battery, astronomy, types of clouds, the solar system, secret inks, codes and ciphers).
Like arts and crafts? You can learn how to build a go-cart, a treehouse, a workbench, various paper airplanes, a bow and arrow, timer and tripwire, etc.
How about sports? There's soccer, rugby, baseball's most valuable players, juggling, etc. Like something gentler? Then try table football, marbles, pen-and-paper games, chess, poker and other card games.
The Inguldens comment: "Is it old fashioned? Well, it depends. Men and boys today are the same as they always were, and interested in the same things." (p. xi)
The authors probably chose the title of this book facetiously, or as an attention-getter. In fact, little if anything in this book, done correctly, is dangerous!
on December 24, 2010
I purchased this book for my 9 year old grandson last spring. Above is a picture of the results.... a tree house! He and his grandfather built this tree house about a month ago - he thinks it is pretty cool for sure. Grandpa says it costs a little more than what the book states but they had a ball doing it. Ben loves the book and is constantly looking for something to do from the book.
on May 1, 2007
My mom wouldn't let me go to summer camp because she thought I would drown in a lake. Consequently, I couldn't use a power tool until I was twenty-five years old. And I still can't tie a decent knot. If only I'd had this book! Especially the chapter about girls. Absolutely crucial information for any boy and it's written by witty and learned authors. I've already bought a copy for my three-year-old son. N. Smith author of Stolen from Gypsies.
on May 31, 2007
I bought this book for my nine year old nephew. When the box arrived and I opened it, the appearance of this book literally took my breath away. It is a large, beautifully fabric bound book with gold leaf lettering. Very retro and charming. Looks like it could have been pulled off of a bookshelf in the 40's. As I watched my nephew thumb through the chapters I saw and felt his excitement as he found sections on fossils, baseball, knots, bows and arrows, pirates and so much more. He is very excited to try everything he found!! I'm a woman in my 40's but I want a copy for MYSELF!!! Buy this book...you'll be glad you did. Oh, and go ahead and get that extra copy for yourself while you're at it.