M2's Reviews > The Dangerous Book for Boys

The Dangerous Book for Boys by Conn Iggulden
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's review
Jul 04, 2007

really liked it
Recommended for: Boys Big & Little
Read in January, 2007

Boys will be boys, but only if they get outside where they belong and off the God damned Ritalin.

Boys aren't girls. They're genetically different, and need to be treated differently and raised differently. Boys like bugs and dirt clods and farts, but they also need tales of loyalty and courage and honor and adventure and, yes, violence. They compete, and physically. They like to blow shit up. They like systems that are clear and cut-and-dried. They like straightforward thinking. That's why they invented math and science and railroads and stuff.

"The Dangerous Book for Boys," which recalls the boys' how-to manuals of the early 20th century, is a shameless -- what's to be ashamed of, after all? -- celebration of boyness. Among the gems boys will find here:

- Every boy needs a Swiss army knife, matches and a magnifying glass
- How to shoot, skin, cook and eat a rabbit and tan its skin
- What maritime signal flags mean
- A chapter on artillery
- Famous battles and the strategies that won them
- How to treat girls
- First aid tips
- Identifying cloud formations
- How a sailboat sails against the wind
- How to make a battery out a roll of quarters
- How to skip stones across a pond
- Lessons in Navajo code-talking
- Good grammar

Fifty years of feminization -- notice I didn't say feminism, which in its finest form is quite a different thing that simply seeks to redress a few ancient wrongs and assure women enjoy the same rights as men -- have attempted to strip boys of their essential boyness, and with disastrous effect. It's no wonder that losing wars is now considered acceptable, even inevitable when we live in a culture that insists that every kid on a bike has got to wear a helmet, of all things, and that rambunctious boys are put on drugs to "help" them "manage" their emotions (and in classrooms where kids get only a few minutes of recess a day, for crying out loud); where TV is used as a surrogate for parenthood and computer games act as stand-ins for real, hands-on learning.

We've become a civilization of pussies and cowards, coddled by an elite of by limp-wristed "effeminazis" of both genders.

That's what makes "The Dangerous Book for Boys" so refreshing. While aimed at boys, it's really a book about manhood and about what kind of men we want to be. It's not the slobbering, pizza-stuffing, slobovian "manliness" of the sort exhibited on "The Man Show" and in ads for cheap beer. It's the old fashioned type of manhood; the type the prizes actions with honor and adventure tempered by discipline -- with a lot of laughter and a few nasty scrapes along the way. And it's a damned fine book, one you'll enjoy whether you're a boy or a tom-boy or a just a girl who likes real boys.
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04/23/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-15 of 15) (15 new)

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message 1: by Bill (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:29AM) (new)

Bill Yes, but how do you really feel about it? =)

Honestly, though -- "effeminazis"? I'm sure you can do better than paraphrase Rush Limbaugh.

message 2: by M2 (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:29AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

M2 It's not a paraphrase, it's a riff.

message 3: by Brenna (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:45AM) (new)

Brenna Flood While I think that boys and girls have their physical and psychological differences, I don't see how those things have to do with the gender-based segregation of useful, interesting information. Since when is subject matter like paper airplanes, farts, bugs, and war history something that only males can appreciate? I find that trying to make that information taboo to women and girls a little insulting.

message 4: by Mark (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:45AM) (new) - added it

Mark Stone Let's not forget, the book doesn't - to the best of my knowledge - do anything to actually discourage girls from reading it. There's the title, sure, but that's pretty minor. The content seems pretty non-gendered.

To me, it almost seems like kabbalistic mysticism. This is the 'boy' side of childhood, but your individual child can choose to include as much of that side of childhood as they want, boy or girl.

Finally, I do think the reviewer isn't taking one important point far enough. I don't think boys are being feminized as much as I think everyonen is being ruined, each in his or her special way.

message 5: by Brenna (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:45AM) (new)

Brenna Flood I wholeheartedly agree with you, Mark.

message 6: by M2 (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:45AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

M2 Brenna -- The one right you cannot not claim in a free society is the right not to bne offended, or indeed, insulted.

I don't recall advocating segregation. There's lots of girls who like boy stuff. They used to be called tom-boys. I see no reason to change this charming nomenclature.

Mark -- I'd wager 95-odd percent of boys and girls are very different from one another in behavior and outlook. Of course there are exceptions. But every new parent I've ever known -- and that is a lot -- has communicated to me their observations of just how different their boys are from their girls, and vice-versa, right out of the womb. There really are biological differences and these differences don't answer to politics or radical notions of free will. And the kabbalah's got nothing to do with it.

Cheers and thanks for reading!


Susan well they could have just written a book called Boys in the year 2007 and had it be all about how to use controllers and play games on tv and computers all day...cheers for your review which I thought was passionate and brave.

Jen, Jenny, Jennifer M2, ya hit it outta da park!!! I gave my 4 year old son this for Xmas and while he's not yet a reader, I think he senses the BOY-POWER within the pages of this gem. And given the tomboyishness of his 7 year old sister, I've caught her skimming through it! I know I'm having a ball with it!!!

There is the Girl version and because I'm an equal opportunist, I considered it for my daughter. However, when leafing through it, I found it a throw back to the pre-feminism, put-your-apron-on-and-learn-how-to-make-a-proper-pot-roast era. Not that there's anything wrong in knowing how to make a proper pot roast, it's just not as fun as learning how to tie 8 different knots.

I truly love the celebratory tone of BOY in this book. I come from a very matriarchal family, oldest of 4 daughters to the oldest of 5 daughters, and having a son and being exposed to all this boy stuff is an absolute riot!

PS. Please tell me you're not a fan of Rush!?! Please!!!

message 9: by M2 (new) - rated it 4 stars

M2 Dear Jen.,

My feelings on Rush are summed up in this old joke:

Q: What's the difference between Rush Limbaugh and the Hindenburg?

A: One's a flaming Nazi gas bag and the other's just a blimp.



message 10: by M2 (new) - rated it 4 stars

M2 Thank,s Susan. I really appreciate your stopping by.

Cheers and have a prosperous New Year.


Spider the Doof Warrior From two years ago. But, I'm a woman and I like bugs.
Not stinging bugs, caterpillars, moths, butterflies, really cool beetles, dragonflies, stick insects which I have not seen yet but want, and praying mantises.
Farts not so much, they are a pain if you have IBS. More than anyone needs to know, but who wants to turn the air green and nauseate air molecules?

This book is very interesting, but I adore rabbits, having recently lost my pet bunny, so if I had a son there's no way I'd want him to skin them! I really love bunnies.
When it comes to gender I've got to wonder if it's not so bad to, well, be a girl who can fix a car, be a boy who can cook his own meals. Balance is nice. Everyone is different, I don't think males and females are this separate species. Girls like me wouldn't mind knowing how to make secret codes, and how to find worms and creepy cool bugs.

message 12: by Ricky (new) - added it

Ricky Aha aha LMAO!
U really got in deep man!

message 13: by Lea (new)

Lea boys invented math and science????

message 14: by Norma (new)

Norma Girls can be this way too. This is not just a boy thing! All PEOPLE are different. It has nothing to do with sex. SMH

message 15: by Spoonie (new)

Spoonie Rose Loved the part that gives advice on girls. I thought it was short and precise, as well as completely accurate (except possibly for the need to play a sport. This might have been better said that girls don't like couch potatos.) Much of this advice resembled common talks between my son, his sisters, and me.

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