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Scouting for Boys: A Handbook for Instruction in Good Citizenship
Scouting for Boys launched one of the largest, fastest growing movements in history. Scouts of all ages will enjoy this remarkable collection of crime solving tips, outdoor expeditions, war stories, and first-aid training. Lord Robert Baden-Powell helps boys and leaders become strong, prepared citizens through exciting adventures in the world of scouting.read more
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Reviews for Scouting for Boys by Lord Robert Baden-Powell
This book is a reprint of the original 1908 text of 'Scouting for Boys', complete with illustrations, but with notes, bibliography and an introduction by Elleke Boehmer; it is, in short, Scouting for Scholars. The editor's purpose is to present the text not as a subject of curiosity but rather as a primary document that can help us to understand the hopes and aspirations of those who cared passionately about the British Empire during its high noon, the first decade of the twentieth century.Robert Baden-Powell, the hero of Mafeking - who got the whole Scouting movement under way with this book - was the right person in the right place at the right time and with the right ideas. The Boy Scouts turned out to be one of the most successful mass movements ever, and Scouting for Boys, which went through numerous editions, was second only to the Bible for popularity. Even read on its own terms it offers a fascinating insight into the kind of world that young boys inhabited one hundred years ago, and what kind of things it was deemed important and salutary that they should know: how to stop a runaway horse, how to remove a manhole cover so as to free someone overcome by sewer gas, what to do on happening upon a suicide cutting his own throat. Boys were obviously considered far more robust then: Baden-Powell advocates introducing greater realism to first-aid practices by the use of real sheep's blood (available from your local butcher). Much of what he suggests would probably be illegal today, since part of his purpose was to inculcate the importance of doing one's duty in the face of danger, regardless of the consequences to oneself; thus he commends the boy who dives head-first into a river without carrying out any kind of survey or risk assessment beforehand. Clearly, avoiding being sued was not a paramount concern of the pioneers of Scouting.However, the book is even more interesting when Boehmer's introduction and notes are taken on board, for these draw out the basic concerns about society that Scouting was supposed to remedy. These were, firstly, that good citizenship was in decline, and (a common trope at the time) the lesson of Roman history was that enthusiastic and participatory citizenship was neccessary for the maintenance of Empire: hence the subtitle of the book - "A Handbook for Instruction in Good Citizenship". Secondly, the Boer War had demonstrated pretty conclusively that the physical condition of British youth had actually declined during the second half of the nineteenth century, a circumstance that imperilled the ability of the armed forces to recuit in sufficient numbers. This decline in physical condition was largely attributed to lack of fresh air and exercise, poor food, and ignorance of the basic tenets of hygiene; factors that Baden-Powell was certain that Scouting could address. These issues, and others such as the reasons for the movement's extraordinary international popularity, are fully explored in the introduction and commented upon in the notes; and the editor also includes Baden-Powell's short diatribe on the perils of masturbation that the publisher insisted should be omitted from the first edition.Such topics should capture the attention of anyone interested in the social history of the period, even someone who has never been remotely interested in Scouting as an activity; and Boehmer and the publishers are therefore to be thanked for producing such an accessible edition of this classic text.read more
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