It's 'Dangerous' and It's Selling Fast

A new book that reminds boys of old-fashioned ways to play is selling fast.

ByABC News
May 23, 2007, 4:59 PM

May 24, 2007 — -- So let's say you have a 10-, 11- or 12-year-old boy and you took away his video games, his iPod and, yes, even the television. Would he know what to do? Would you know what to do with him?

If these questions make you cringe, fear not. Help has arrived in the form of "The Dangerous Book for Boys" -- a sort of "how to" guide to life and play for young boys that is enjoying sudden and sensational success.

"Dangerous" came out at the beginning of May with a modest printing of 91,000 copies. Just three weeks later, according to publisher Harper Collins, the book is in its fifth run. Now 405,000 copies are in print, many of them prominently displayed in the nation's bookstores. "This is really, truly remarkable," Harper Collins editor Matthew Benjamin told ABC News. "We just don't see those kinds of numbers."

The book is a menu of activities and articles designed to feed a boy's imagination and fuel his desire to play, explore and take risks. It includes sections on bugs, battles and baseball. There are instructions for building a tree house, a bow and arrow ("You will need flint or bone for arrowheads") and the "greatest paper airplane in the world."

If none of this seems "dangerous," the book also includes a chapter on "Hunting and Cooking a Rabbit" (along with a section on how to skin it), another on "How to Play Poker" and advice on what many boys perceive as the most risky activity of all -- talking to girls.

Still if the title seems too overblown for what is essentially a Boy Scout manual on steroids, Conn Iggulden, one of the book's authors, explained that it's meant to harken "back to a time when the word 'dangerous' wasn't a dirty one."

Iggulden added, "Ask any man about a treasured memory from childhood and they'll tell you something that involves overcoming danger. The small risks we took so blithely taught us valuable lessons."

Iggulden, who wrote the book with his brother Hal, was motivated by the fact that as the father of a young boy, he was "suddenly much more aware that things I considered important aren't being taught in schools anymore. I was also fed up with the way health and safety seems to be spoiling a lot of the activities we took for granted." Citing everything from "riding bikes to playgrounds in parks," Iggulden continued, "If something hasn't been banned completely, it's now forbidden unless the child wears the sort of safety equipment associated with professional hockey players."