Monday, October 15, 2007

I Guess Guys Need This Kind Of Thing Periodically

I've been wondering how The Dangerous Book for Boys by Conn Iggulden and Hal Iggulden differs from The American Boy's Handy Book by D. C. Beard.

They have similar titles and similar retro covers. They both include information on tying knots. The American Boy's Handy Book was all over the place in the 1980s. The Dangerous Book for Boys is all over the place now.

Well, it turns out that The American Boy's Handy Book was originally published back in 1882. The paperback released in 1983 was a centennial edition. Though in the 1980s it was a nostalgia piece (The Washington Post said it evoked "the kind of boyhood that nearly every American man would like to have had himself, and hope that his son (or daughter) might still enjoy"), back in its day it was presumably the real deal. Its author, Daniel Carter Beard, a civil engineer, surveyor, and artist, was also the first National Commissioner of the Boy Scouts. A mountain in Alaska was named for him.

The Dangerous Book for Boys started out in the United Kingdom where, presumably, they don't have The American Boy's Handy Book. According to an interview at Amazon with one of the authors, it was written in response to our overprotective culture that, the author believed, "isn't doing our sons any favors." The Dangerous Book is a contemporary work and covers things Beard wouldn't have known about back in the 1880s, such as paper airplanes and girls.

I think Beard would have appreciated the Igguldens' concern about our culture. In his preface, he says "Let boys make their own kites and bows and arrows" suggesting he thought that in his own time boys were, if not overprotected, at least being given too much in the way of material things that they could just as well make for themselves. (The italics in that quotation were his, by the way.)

I do think, though, that if you're really looking for dangerous things to do with your boys, you might want to hunt up the old The American Boy's Handy Book. In addition to explaining how to make a Buckeye Bow, Beard covers home-made "hunting apparatus," which sounds a little rougher and tougher than skimming stones, one of the topics in The Dangerous Book for Boys.

Yes, folks, there was a The American Girl's Handy Book. I haven't found anything on A Dangerous Book for Girls, yet.


david elzey said...

The Daring Book for Girls, the companion book to The Dangerous Book for Boys, is due out within the month.

Jeannine Atkins said...

I loved this post. I can't wait to see the Dangerous Book for Girls. In our lifetime?
Thanks, Gail!

Gail Gauthier said...

Wow. I don't hear that kind of thing too often. You couldn't have picked a better day to post that comment. Thanks.

Jeannine Atkins said...

you SHOULD hear it often. I love reading your blog but don't often post as
a. I'm lazy
b. the google thing, maybe cause I'm only inclined to post every month or two, keeps not recognizing my password, and this reinforces a.
But be assured you are always interesting, witty, and one of the very few blogs I come back to. Thanks again!
Jeannine Atkins