THE DANGEROUS BOOK FOR BOYS by Conn and Hal Iggulden (Harper Collins), 288 pages, $29.95 cloth. Rating: NNNN
This eclectic collection of instruction, fiction, history and more hits two bull's-eyes in one go.
Authors/brothers Conn and Hal Iggulden have created what can only be described as a young boy's (sorry for the sex-specific slant, but I'll get to that in a sec) companion guide to, well, basically everything the Brothers Iggulden imagine is of interest to listless and/or adventurous young men. But it's also a treat for a nostalgic adult.
At first glance, The Dangerous Book appears to be a throwback to Victorian-era publications designed for a young male readership. It's full of tales of adventure and instructions on how to make a homemade battery and countless other genuinely informative sections of neat stuff relating to proper grammar, rules of soccer, famous battles, girls ("excitable bouts of wind breaking will not endear you to a girl"), astronomy, how to tell the age of a tree and... well, you get the point.
The project is obviously a labour of love. In the introduction, the authors suggest that in this "age of video games and cellphones, there must still be a place for knots, tree houses and stories of incredible courage" - a point surely not missed by anyone old enough to reminisce about being young and carefree.
Okay, that may sound a little too mushy, but along with the shameless heartstring-tugging, the book offers an interesting and intentional throwback to a long-gone era when things like a book unapologetically and exclusively for rambunctious young boys were much more commonplace. (In fact, The Daring Book For Girls was recently released.)
And if you look past the nostalgia factor, you end up with a perfectly wonderful book full of facts and projects for guys of all ages who want to do something other than waste away on their asses in front of the computer.