The Dangerous Book For Boys


Best Practical Book, 2007 - 5 stars

Food for Thought and Action for Boys and Men

I really like what author Conn Iggulden says about boys in his interview with (

He co-authored The Dangerous Book For Boys with his brother Hal. He has also authored many historical novels, including Genghis: Birth Of An Empire, Emperor: The Field Of Swords, Emperor: The Gods Of War, Emperor: The Gates Of Rome, Genghis: Lords Of The Bow, Blackwater, and Wolf Of The Plains.

Conn has a real heart for boys and what they need, and what it will take for us as a culture to get back to giving them that. He says that if we don't give boys healthy things that tap into their natural curiosity and desire to take risks, they won't stop being curious or taking risk; they'll find OTHER outlets that are NOT healthy. You cannot stop a boy from being a boy; all you can do is to turn him away from the harmful and toward that which builds character. We have failed to do that as a society, but hopefully this book will be a start, among others, toward reversing that trend.

One of the things Conn emphasizes is that boys and dads do things together and not to depend on institutions to build character in boys' lives. His book gives them a treasure chest of interesting and fun activities, as well as a world of knowledge. As far as activities, there are The Greatest Paper Airplane in the World, The Five Knots Every Boy Should Know, Making A Battery, How To Play Stickball, Building a Treehouse, Making a Bow and Arrow, Table Football, Fishing, Timers and Tripwires, Spies - Codes and Cipers, Making Crystals, Making a Go-Cart, Juggling, Making a Paper Hat, Boat and Water Bomb, Marbling Paper, First Aid, Making Cloth Fireproof, Building a Workbench, Pocket Light, Five Pen-and-Paper Games, A Simple Electromagnet, Secret Inks, Grinding an Italic Nib, Navigation, Skipping Stones, Pinhole Projector, Charting the Universe, Dog Tricks, Wrapping a Package in Brown Paper and String, Making a Periscope, Coin Tricks, How to Play Poker, Marbles, The Game of Chess, Hunting and Cooking a Rabbit, Tanning a Skin, Growing Sunflowers, and Role-Playing Games.

Among the knowledge covered are The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, Questions About the World (Parts 1, 2 and 3), Fossils, The Rules of Soccer, Dinosaurs, Understanding Grammar (Parts 1, 2 and 3), Baseball's Most Valuable Players, Famous Battles (Part 1 and 2), The Rules of Rugby, U.S. Naval Flag Codes, Extraordinary Stories (Parts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5), Insects and Spiders, Astronomy, Navajo Code Talker's Dictionary, Girls, Cloud Formations, The Fifty States, Map of the United States, Mountains of the United States, The Golden Age of Piracy, Sampling Shakespeare, The Declaration of Independence, The Moon, Star Maps, Seven Poems Every Boy Should Know, Light, Latin Phrases Every Boy Should Know, A Brief History of Artillery, The Origin of Words, The Solar System, The Ten Commandments, Common Trees, Time Line of Early American History, Seven Modern Wonders of the World, Books Every Boy Should Read, and Standard and Metric Measurements.

These are things that most boys were taught by their dads or at least in school until Modern Education took over and started trying to make our boys "safe" instead of turning them into men of character. The Boy Scouts have been somewhat successful at trying to fill that role, but it's really the responsibility of fathers, and that is to whom it should return. The Dangerous Book For Boys is not an encyclopedia of activities and knowledge, but merely a sampler. The book is remarkable, not only for what it includes, but also for what it leaves out. Choices had to be made, and it was only meant to be a start. But it's a good start. What is most important is the vision for boys the book represents. I hope all of us will catch that vision and build on what the Iggulden brothers have started.


Waitsel Smith, September 6, 2007

Text © 2007 Waitsel Smith. Image © 2007 Collins Publishing. All Rights Reserved.

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