Books and authors: June 2007 Archives

Ross Douthat

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More on "The Dangerous Books for Boys"

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The author has an op-ed in the WaPo.

When I had a son of my own six years ago, I looked around for the sort of books that would inspire him. I was able to find some practical modern ones, but none with the spirit and verve of those old titles. I wanted a single compendium of everything I'd ever wanted to know or do as a boy, and I decided to write my own. My brother, now a theater director in Leicester, a city in the midlands of England, was the obvious choice as co-writer. I had dedicated my first book "To my brother Hal, the other member of the Black Cat Club." It was official at last. I persuaded him to come and work with me 12 hours a day for six months in a shed.

We began with everything we had done as kids, then added things we didn't want to see forgotten. History today is taught as a feeble thing, with all the adventure taken out of it. We wanted stories of courage because boys love those. We wanted stories about men like Royal Air Force fighter pilot Douglas Bader, Scott of the Antarctic, the Wright Brothers -- boys like to read about daring men, always with the question: Would I be as brave or as resourceful? I sometimes wonder why people make fun of boys going to science fiction conventions without realizing that it shows a love of stories. Does every high school offer a class on adventure tales? No -- and then we complain that boys don't read anymore...

Finally, we chose our title -- "The Dangerous Book for Boys." It's about remembering a time when danger wasn't a dirty word. It's safer to put a boy in front of a PlayStation for a while, but not in the long run. The irony of making boys' lives too safe is that later they take worse risks on their own. You only have to push a baby boy hard on a swing and see his face light up. It's not learned behavior -- he's hardwired to enjoy a little risk. Ask any man for a good memory from childhood and he'll tell you about testing his courage or getting injured. No one wants to see a child get hurt, but we really did think the bumps and scratches were badges of honor, once.

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Dawn Eden in Chicago

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For all you Chicagoans, Dawn Eden is going to be discussing and signing copies of her book at St. Alphonsus Church in my old stomping grounds on July 10th. It should be a good time!

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Book Reviews

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  • Girls Gone Mild: The WSJ reviews Wendy Shalit's latest. Shalit authored the excellent (according to Jenny, I've not read it) Return to Modesty

  • Unnatural Acts - Ramesh Ponnuru, the only National Review writer I still read, had a review in the spring Claremont Review of Books that has finally made its way online. Here's the first graph:

    Toward the beginning of Challenging Nature, Lee Silver sounds a defensive note: "I do not claim that all expressions of spirituality are harmful or bad. Nor do I think that all biotech applications are inherently good, ethical, or risk-free." It was wise of the Princeton molecular biologist to include those two sentences. The reader might otherwise have been misled by every other sentence in the book into thinking that Silver considers religion a regrettable—though regrettably ineradicable—feature of human society, and that no serious limits should be placed on biotechnology.
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A very shorter Christopher Hitchens

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A very shorter Christopher Hitchens

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Pages

Mama-Lu's Etsy Shop

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Books and authors category from June 2007.

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Books and authors: July 2007 is the next archive.

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