The Dangerous Book for Boys

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Product Description

This terrific book celebrates old-fashioned boyhood, when fishing, skimming stones, building tree houses and watching cloud formations were the stuff of everyday adventures. It's a guide for digital-age dads as well as sons on how to reclaim it together. The book covers eclectic topics and skills such as 5 knots every boy should know, fossils, common trees, navigation, coin tricks and oodles of facts and activities. Engagingly written and, we might add, is a pretty fun read for girls, too. 288 pages. Ages 8 to 88.

Equal parts droll and gorgeous nostalgia book and heartfelt plea for a renewed sense of adventure in the lives of boys and men, Conn and Hal Iggulden's The Dangerous Book for Boys became a mammoth bestseller in the United Kingdom in 2006. Adapted, in moderation, for American customs in this edition (cricket is gone, rugby remains; conkers are out, Navajo Code Talkers in), The Dangerous Book is a guide book for dads as well as their sons, as a reminder of lore and technique that have not yet been completely lost to the digital age. Recall the adventures of Scott of the Antarctic and the Battle of the Somme, relearn how to palm a coin, tan a skin, and, most charmingly, wrap a package in brown paper and string. The book's ambitions are both modest and winningly optimistic: you get the sense that by learning how to place a splint or write in invisible ink, a boy might be prepared for anything, even girls (which warrant a small but wise chapter of their own).

Inside The Dangerous Book for Boys

Figure 8 Knot

Sheet Bend Knot

The Battle of Waterloo

Questions for Conn Iggulden

Conn and Hal Iggulden are two brothers who have not forgotten what it was like to be boys. Conn taught for many years before becoming one of the most admired and popular young historical novelists with his Emperor series, based on the life of Julius Caesar, and his newly embarked series on Genghis Khan, while Hal is a theater director. We asked Conn about their collaboration. It's difficult to describe what a phenomenon The Dangerous Book for Boys was in the UK last year. When I would check the bestseller list on our sister site,, there would be, along with your book, which spent much of the year at the top of the list, a half-dozen apparent knockoff books of similar boy knowledge. Clearly, you tapped into something big. What do you think it was?

Iggulden: In a word, fathers. I am one myself and I think we've become aware that the whole "health and safety" overprotective culture isn't doing our sons any favors. Boys need to learn about risk. They need to fall off things occasionally, or--and this is the important bit--they'll take worse risks on their own. If we do away with challenging playgrounds and cancel school trips for fear of being sued, we don't end up with safer boys--we end up with them walking on train tracks. In the long run, it's not safe at all to keep our boys in the house with a Playstation. It's not good for their health or their safety.

You only have to push a boy on a swing to see how much enjoys the thrill of danger. It's hard-wired. Remove any opportunity to test his courage and they'll find ways to test themselves that will be seriously dangerous for everyone around them. I think of it like playing the lottery--someone has to say "Look, you won't win--and your children won't be hurt. Relax. It won't be you."

I think that's the core of the book's success. It isn't just a collection of things to do. The heroic stories alone are something we haven't had for too long. It isn't about climbing Everest, but it is an attitude, a philosophy for fathers and sons. Our institutions are too wrapped up in terror over being sued--so we have to do things with them ourselves. This book isn't a bad place to start.

As for knockoff books--great. They'll give my son something to read that doesn't involve him learning a dull moral lesson of some kind--just enjoying an adventure or learning skills and crafts so that he has a feeling of competence and confidence--just as we have. You made some changes for the U.S. edition, and I for one am sorry that you have removed the section on conkers, if only because it's such a lovely and mysterious word. What are (or what is) conkers?

Iggulden: Horse chestnuts strung on a shoelace and knocked against one another until they shatter. In the entire history of the world, no one has ever been hurt by a conker, but it's still been banned by some British schools, just in case. Another school banned paper airplanes. Honestly, it's enough to make you weep, if I did that sort of thing, which I try not to. Reading Jane Austen is still allowed, however. What knowledge did you decide was important to add for American boys? I notice in both editions you have an excellent and useful section on table football, as played with coins. Is paper football strictly an American pastime? I'm not sure I could have gotten through the fourth grade without it.

Iggulden: I like knowing the details of battles, so Gettysburg and the Alamo had to go in, along with the Gettysburg address, stickball, state capitals, U.S. mountains, American trees, insects, U.S. historical timelines, and a lot of others. Navajo code talkers of WWII is a great chapter. It probably helps that I am a huge fan of America. It was only while rewriting for the U.S. that I realized how many positive references there already are. You have NASA and NASA trumps almost anything.

As for paper football, ever since I thought of putting the book together, people keep saying things like "You have rockets in there, yes? Everyone loves rockets!" Paper football is the first American one, but there will be many others. No book in the world is long enough to put them all in--unless we do a sequel, of course. Do you think The Dangerous Book for Boys is being read by actual boys, or only by nostalgic adults? Have you seen boys getting up from their Xboxes to go outside and perform first aid or tan animal skins or build go-carts?

Iggulden: I've had a lot of emails and letters from boys who loved the book--as well as fathers. I've had responses from kids as young as ten and an old man of 87, who pointed out a problem with the shadow stick that we've since changed. The thing to remember is that we may be older and more cynical every year, but boys simply aren't. If they are given the chance to make a go-cart with their dad, they jump at it. Mine did. Nothing gives me more pleasure than to know the book is being used with fathers and sons together, trying things out. Nothing is more valuable to a boy than time with his dad, learning something fun--or something difficult. That's part of the attitude too. If it's hard, you don't make it easy, you grab it by the throat and hang on for as long as it takes.

The book is often bought by fathers, of course. Their sons don't know Scott of the Antarctic is a great adventure story. How could they if it isn't taught any more? Good, heroic stories don't appear much in modern school curriculums--and then we wonder why boys don't seem interested. And finally, on to the important questions: Should Pluto still be a planet? And what was the best dinosaur?

Iggulden: Pluto is a planet. I know there are scientists who say it isn't, but it's big enough to be round and it has a moon, for crying out loud. Of course it's a planet. Give it ten years and they'll be agreeing with me again.

As for the best dinosaur, it depends what you mean by best. For sheer perfection, it probably has to be the shark and the crocodile. Modern ones are smaller but their record for sheer survival is pretty impressive. I only hope humanity can do as well. The only thing that will stop us is worrying too much.

Customer Reviews:

  • Fun and informative
    This is a gift for my nephew. He loves the book so we thought the calendar would be fun too....more info
  • Requested by my 11 year old
    Looks like a great book. Nephew loves it, son asked for it. Word-of-mouth advertising amongst kids says something for it!...more info
  • only for boys?
    i got this book for my son and the daring book for girls to my dauter but i soon found out the girls book only had topics like make friend ship braclets and how to wisle with 2 fingers but the book for boys had how to skin a rabit and things consided harder but i say that is sexest and wrong...more info
  • Best Boy's Gift!
    I LOVE THIS BOOK. I purchased it for my [...] thinking it would spur a love of the outdoors and a use for his imagination. He definitely enjoyed the book, especially the "How-to's". I can see that this will grow with him, as the history lessons and explanations will become more interesting at older ages.
    Since getting this book for my own son, it is my number one purchase for other boys we know. ...more info
  • Great!!!
    This is a great book for boys of all ages. You will find anything and everything in this book. Get this book for any boy (or man) in your life & I can assure you they will be pleased!...more info
  • Excellent!
    "(Dmachone"coffeeswirls")" REALLY did a great job summing up/reviewing this book. I'm gonna be brief, but this is recommended by ME and many people to every boy. As the book says, Father, son, grandparent, this book will bring you back to a day before video games and television where summers were long and people had morals. BUY THIS BOOK TODAY IF YOU ARE A BOY!...more info
  • Very Good Book For Pre-Teen Boys! Highly Recommended!
    We gave "The Dangerous Book for Boys" to my son (11) last year because he had friends who were reading it. It was one of the few reasonable things on his Christmas list and it seemed like a good gift for our academically minded boy who spends more time inside than outside. This was a huge hit! Not only did he love reading it, but I also really enjoyed most of the chapters as well.

    The book covers many things that boys would have learned in the past from their fathers or watching people work with their hands (knot tying, Star Gazing, First Aid, etc). Since we now live in a world where many of our "masculine" skills are no longer needed, where is boy to learn this things, if not from a book like this one?

    The book also includes sections on historical battles, the history of pirates, and even includes some sections on social graces and talking to girls. It really is something of an eclectic mix, but it does work out nicely.

    The book itself is well made and is very good looking. It should hold up well over time.

    We were happy to let our boy get his hands dirty and to stimulate his imagination! Highly recommended!...more info
  • dangerous book for boys
    I bought this for my grandson and I think it is wonderful for boys and girls, esp. since the world has changed for them and is not as safe as it once was. I enjoyed reading through it myself....more info
  • Dangerous Book for Boys
    Giving a child something "non-electronic" to do in this day and age is a challenge. When you're on a Gameboy ban, entertainment gets thin on the ground. I bought this book (and several like it) during this time period. Although it took a day or two for the book to catch his eye, he is rarely without it now, and reads bits from it ALL THE TIME to us....more info
  • Full of Fun
    All I can say is that I can't wait to get the chance to use all of these awesome ideas. I have already learned a cool quarter trick and can't wait until I do more with my four year old. Beautiful condition and fast....more info
  • OUCH!!!!!!
    This IS a dangerous book. I received an extremely painful paper cut whilst reading this text....more info
  • Get the boys out of the house
    I bought the Australian version of this book for my godson for Christmas and he loved it. His mother commented that she had never seen her son spend so much time with his nose in a book.

    Although the book is aimed at boys of all ages I enjoyed flipping through it as well.

    The Dangerous Book For Boys is a book filled with an eclectic array of information and instructions about a variety of subjects of interest to boys. From the rules of the different codes of football, the solar system, how to tie knots, making things, survival tips, to the weather and girls your boys are bound to find a topic to keep them busy.

    If you would like the boys in your life to spend less time in front of the TV or get them away from the computer for a while then give them this book. It is the perfect gift to encourage them to get their bodies to be more active and to develop their imaginations....more info
  • Am I Missing Something or is This Really Dangerous?
    I purchased the Dangerous Book for Boys calendar. The entry for Saturday - Sunday, April 25/26 (2009) says, "HOW FAR AWAY ARE THE STARS? Light travels at 186,000 miles (300,000 1cm) a second. In a year it would travel almost 6 million miles. A light-year is 6 trillion miles." Perhaps this book and calendar are much more dangerous that we thought?...more info
  • Good stuff to know
    This was a great read. Some of the things in this book I had forgotten about. I had a wonderful time reading it with my son....more info
    We love this book and would recommend it to EVERYONE. My son loves video games and this has gotten him interested in other old-school cool stuff like go-carts, paper airplanes, everything a boy or girl needs to know :) You must get this book!...more info
  • Excellent
    Excellent condition. Good Book, but evolutionist based as far as science goes. We just work around it....more info
  • A fun book and a wonderful regard gift for anyone...
    There are a few books I've read that I decide to give as "regard gifts" - gifts given to persons whom you hold in high esteem simply because you do hold them so. This is one of those books.

    I have given this book to friends who are new-Dads, friends who are old-enough-Dads that their sons are grown, my Godsons, my brother and his son... there's a companion book by different authors, "The Daring Book for Girls." I've given that one to a niece, my Godson's sister, and my wife. The paper airplanes are even better in "Daring..." than they are in "Dangerous...." We keep both books on hand in the closet to give when the opportunity arises.

    The account of the Battle of Waterloo alone is worth the purchase price. Can you name the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World? Make a battery out of quarters, lemon juice, and other household items? If not, you need this book!

    ...more info
  • Didn't get the fifty states right!
    February 17th - Arkansas is missing! Now I'm wondering about the accuracy of some of this information....more info
  • Great gift
    I got this for my cousin (he's 13) and it was a big hit! He got it just before dinner started and he wouldn't eat because he was too busy reading. :)

    I got the girls book for his younger sister and encouraged them to read each others' books, which they seemed to like the idea of. Lots of things for them to do together!...more info
  • A great opportunity to bond with your son.
    I bought this for my 11 year old son as a gift and have spent many nights reading it with him. Last night we read through 'Girls' and 'The Declaration of Independence' He's excited to build trip wires to set off alarms on his younger brother. It's just FULL of stuff that's interesting to young boys and adults. ...more info
  • Great Gift for your Grandson(s)
    Outstanding. My grandsons, ages 10, 8 and 6 love this book. This purchase is a must for any young boy as it will keep him occupied with projects for many years....more info
  • Great for an 11 eyar old boy.
    I bought this book for my 11 eyar old son, and he loves it. It is full of interesting stuff - stories, activities, lessons, facts, history, and lots of cool things for boys to do. Lots of variety, easy to read, short articles - it made me want to be 11 myself!...more info
  • dangerous book for boys
    This was a Christmas gift for a grandson, I looked it over when it arrived
    and I was really impressed....more info
  • Great for ANY Age
    I bought this book for my husband after our son was born. My child is too young but this really was exciting to see my husband sort through the book and get excited about doing these activities with our son. I also leave the book out on the coffee table and it has become a great conversation piece with various people. ...more info
  • A fantastic collaberation of information for all parents!
    I bought this book thinking that I already was a great dad & I knew everything of importance that needed to be instilled into my boys daily process of growing up living our American dream.

    I was mistaken.

    This book has so much great information in it-things I did & tried to do, but forgot about. Get it! Share it with your boys!

    You'll enjoy it too, I promise!...more info
  • great gift for school age boys
    My son is 9 and I bought the book for him. I orgionaly found the girls version of the book in the grocery store in a box in the middle of the isle and my 11 year old daughter and I 32 liked it so much that I was on the hunt for the boys version. I had found it on Amazon at a better total price including shipping than a few other sites I had checked. My son who likes Lego and skateboard magazines rather than books, took to this book so quick. He even carts it around in his back pack for the times in school they have to read. It has all the boys boy stuff along with a few you just should know tidbits. Parents build a tree house with the easy directions any one with cordination can do. Info on dinosaurs and bugs, hey make a go cart or a bench,make a pocket light. Its a treasure to pass down from one child boy or girl to the next.
    SW...more info
  • plagurism
    This book is a copy of an old book i have calledTHE GREAT AMERICAN DEPRESSION BOOK OF John Odell printed in 1981.....more info
  • Boys will be boys!!!
    Everyone Hates a Ball Hog but they All Love a Scorer: The Complete Guide to Scoring Points on and off the Basketball Court

    nostalgic...more info
  • Never read it ~ best gift book I have ever given!
    I needed a quick gift for my teenage nephew and grabbed this book ~ he talked on the phone to me the longest time that he ever had because of his enthusiasm for the book ~ I actually received a very nice thank you note from him,also! Based on this success, I kept going and gave it to an adult relative with a note for him to read it to his sons ~ turns out his entire family is reading and enjoying it. It all began when my son gave a copy to his dad, who is reading different sections of the book at night to me! Highly recommend....more info
  • The Dangerous Book for Boys
    This is one of the best things I could have bought my son. I grew up with alot of the activities, but in today's society, most of these are lost. I reccommend this for anyone boy or girl.

    Thanks...more info
  • Dangerious book for men & boys
    The book was ok, I didn't get ripped off with postage, which was good. BUT I did get "RIPPED OFF" by someone who got my card number! They drained all the money except for $10.00 from my bank account! I need another way to pay, its too hard to get the $$$ back once its gone ( I did get it back ). Amazon - If you want my business you need to provide another way to pay!...more info
  • Adventures within...
    This book is a wonderful collection of adventures and slices of hands-on education. Well worth the price. My favorite sections are those that relate to earth science and astronomy....more info
  • Great Gift for Any Male
    I gave this to my 50 year old brother-in-law and ended up reading most of it before I would wrap it.

    It brings back memories and makes you think of memories you'll be creating in the future.
    ...more info
  • Great book for fathers and sons
    My sons and I love this book. It is filled with fun projects for fathers and sons. I highly recommend it for all parents of boys....more info
  • the dangerous book for boys
    A book every boy should have!! A partial solution to getting kids away from in front of the TV and out and about exploring....more info
  • fun
    tis is a book that my kids and grand kids can enjoy and do things together...more info
  • Great Book for All Ages - even teenagers!
    I purchased this book for my teen son after reading good reviews from others. I agree, it's great! My son hasn't put the book down in days and has even shared the book with friends. The topics vary greatly but it's what curious boys want to know. Some topics include tying knots, understanding grammar, how to play poker, how to identifying trees, famous battles, and the list goes on. There really is something for everyone in this well written book.
    I will purchase other copies to share with nephews and cousins....more info
  • Great big Book
    This is a great Book. It has lots of activities like building tree houses to hunting rabbits. It is also very educational with all the survival stories and tales of war....more info
  • Great Book for New Dads
    This is a perfect book to get for new dads. It is a really fun read as well...more info
  • Not as original as you might think...
    This book is basically a rip off of the Boy Scout handbook. You want your boy to appreciate the outdoors, lay off the video games and TV for a bit? Don't bother buying this book and going at it alone. Contact your local Boy Scout Council and get him involved in the same activities with other boys his age, and oh yeah, help him build character, develop valuable skills and have a lot of fun while he's at it....more info
  • My son loves this book.
    I've been surprised by some of the off thw wall subjectys that he has learned something about....more info
  • Girlfriends son.
    I purchased the book and the game for my girlfriends son. I truly hope that he enjoys it. I think that it is a very interesting book....more info


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