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Scouting for Boys: A Handbook for Instruction in Good Citizenship [Paperback]

Robert Baden-Powell , Elleke Boehmer
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
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Book Description

10 Feb 2005
A startling amalgam of Zulu war-cry and Sherlock Holmes, of practical tips on health and hygiene and object lessons in woodcraft, Scouting for Boys (1908) is the original blueprint and inspiration for the Boy Scout Movement. An all-time bestseller in the English-speaking world, second in its heyday only to the Bible, it is one of the most influential manuals for youth ever published, known and loved around the world. Including all of Baden-Powell's original illustrations, this new critical edition of Scouting for Boys serves up a wonderful hodge-podge of true crime stories, stern moralizing, stock adventure tales, natural history, first-aid tips, advice on observation and tracking, and much more. Readers will find a roughly composed pastiche of jingoist lore and tracker legend, padded with lengthy quotations from adventure fiction-from Rudyard Kipling and James Fenimore Cooper, to Alexander Dumas and Arthur Conan Doyle-and seamed through with the multiple anxieties of its time: fears of degeneration ("the fall of the Roman empire was due to bad citizenship") and a constant worry over imminent war. Alongside practical instructions on how to light fires, build a boat, or stalk animals (or men), it includes sections on chivalry, self-discipline, self-improvement, and citizenship. Indeed, the book brims with Baden-Powell's philosophy of life, one that replaces self with service, puts country before the individual, and duty above all. The introduction by Elleke Boehmer illuminates the book's maverick complexity and her notes clarify obscure references. Though almost a century old, Scouting for Boys continues to fascinate, surprise, and motivate readers today. It will delight anyone interested in popular culture, Victorian history, and literature for children.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford (10 Feb 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192802461
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192802460
  • Product Dimensions: 2.9 x 12.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 117,299 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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'very good fun' Max Hastings, Sunday Telegraph 'Elleke Boehmer's erudite introduction makes you wish she would get around to writing a full-length biogaphy of the first Chief Scout' William Cook, New Statesman 'a gem of a contemporary source' Living History 'the value of Elleke Boehmer's well-annotated text of the original edition is to show us the anxieties, contradictions and excitements of the Boy Scout movement at its inception' Alan Hollinghurst, Guardian 'a gripping read' The Oldie

About the Author

Elleke Boehmer is Hildred Carlile Professor in English at Royal Holloway, University of London. She is the author of many books and articles on postcolonial writing and theory. She has also written short stories and three novels, most recently Bloodlines.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars From another time, but still relevant? 12 Oct 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Bought this for a bit of a laugh initially, that and the Ian Hislop program on TV.

Its parochial, jingoistic, self centred and too focussed on 'self abuse' ..


It has some pretty good stuff! Its ridiculously egalitarian considering when it was written, and respectful of all independent of wealth, race, creed, etc. All in all, kids should read this.

I finished this book with an odd feeling of pride in being British. The values promoted in this book are my values, despite never having been a scout myself.

God save the Queen!
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50 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The British Empire wants your help" 22 Jun 2004
At the very beginning of the twentieth century, retired General Robert Baden-Powell, the hero of the siege of Mafeking, coalesced his ideas for an organization to train young British boys in scouting for the British Empire. Not a very organized thinker, Baden-Powell borrowed heavily from all sorts of unrelated resources - newspaper articles, military dispatches, fiction, and much more - and produced this, his first book on scouting. Originally published as six separate books, this book brings all of them together, complete with original illustrations.
Now, as might be expected from its roots, this book reflects a lot of the biases and ways of thinking from Edwardian England. But, leaving that aside, this is a fun and interesting book that shows clearly the forms that have stayed with the Boy Scouts movement to this very day. The introduction was written by Elleke Boehmer, a professor of Colonial and Postcolonial literature, and is a fairly predictable deconstruction/analysis of B-P and his movement.
Now, as a newcomer to Scouting (my son is a Tenderfoot) did I find anything useful in this book? I sure did. Robert Baden-Powell was very knowledgeable about the subject, and this book sure shows it. (I never thought of tying my shoes like that!) Of course some of the information is out of date, especially the first-aid information, so it isn't really usable by the boys "as is." But, this is a nice resource, one that shows you where Scouting started.
Oh, and I must say that I actually enjoyed the somewhat jumbled organization of this book. It isn't as scholarly and antiseptic as modern Boy Scout books, and the stories and tales laced throughout make the reading much more fun. Plus, I did find the focus on some subjects, such as logic and deductive reasoning, to be quite interesting. I loved this book, and highly recommend it to you!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Timeless sound advice 7 April 2009
What a lovely well written and profound piece of literature. A time less piece of work that reinforces the very best attitudes and acceptable social standards of its day and certainly one by which a lot of the youth of today could learn by. I am pleased that both of my sons have found this book a hearty and enjoyable read with the ability to pick it up and put it down at will dipping into its wisdom and practicality when ever they need to. Well done BP.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dyb,dyb,dyb 16 Jan 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As a former Cub and Scout I still find BP's original book as gripping as when I first read a copy many years ago.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The male ethic 24 Dec 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Many of the underlying attitudes present in some books from the first half of the 20th century make me shudder, but this book is not one of them.
I spent most of the Fifties, as a Cub to a Senior Scout, enjoying freedoms and adventures that youngsters today cannot even dream of. I have always regretted that I was unable to put back a little of what I was given.
If the world is going to hell in a handbasket, perhaps these values will have meaning again.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating 13 Jan 2011
This, the 1908 edition of Scouting for Boys is a captivating book for a variety of reasons. First of all, we see early on in the work that Baden Powell knew his stuff, as it were. Ok, no doubt there were many outdoor types from the time - the Victorian/Edwardian era, military or otherwise, who knew their stuff too, but not many either wished to or were able to impart their knowledge (as well as opinions) as Baden Powell did, but not only that but use this knowledge as the basis for instigating a soon-to-be worldwide organisation for young boys (and girls too). Now staying on the mainstay for a wee while, I am sure that the hints and tips on survival in the wild, or backwoods as per the oft used phrase, is not quite as useful now. It has become easier and cheaper to prepare for time away: better clothing, better food and preparation tools, and in case of emergencies then we know comms are a million times better; but in 1908 this obviously was not the case, and the information in the book was very relevant for then, and very excellent to boot.

Now, onto the most contentious part - Baden Powell's strongly held opinions and beliefs concerning hygiene and sexuality. To be honest you know, accepting that it was always going to be rather Protestant in outlook; although his medical and biological knowledge was wanting in some ways to some degrees, as we can all too plainly see when reading the book, what's up with the general message, which we can narrow down to - keep clean, show restraint? Take a mixed bag of boys and men, and for a long long time now, thankfully, girls - away from the home setting / from their neighbourhood, then 'being on one's best' as it were, is an admirable aim.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars :)
Published 16 days ago by J. Pedersen
4.0 out of 5 stars Times have changed.
The original text reflects the way people felt back at the turn of the 19th 20th centuries. Some of the ideals espoused are very non PC. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Biker one
5.0 out of 5 stars Smasher
I bought this book as a gift for my dad and was really chuffed with it.

The book is good quality and is really interesting - a great present (if I do say so myself).
Published 7 months ago by Simon Perry
5.0 out of 5 stars Scoiuting for boys.
Really interesting read.

As a scout in the late 50's it brings it all back and reminds me of what a bunch of softies todays youth (and ourselves) have become. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Mr. P. J. Roderick
5.0 out of 5 stars A book which is lasting throughout time
This book is the bible for all boy scouts of all ages I lent my old copy to a new scout leader and never got it back 20 years ago and as I live by following the scout law and... Read more
Published 13 months ago by peter griffiths
5.0 out of 5 stars Nothing like the original!
I've been after this book for years, if only to be able to say I've read it. It's great to have it as a resource to refer back to and answer questions about scouting in the olden... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Polly Peirce
5.0 out of 5 stars Timeless
So much that is still relevant today. A great read which carries the reader back into a different time when Scouting was introduced. Read more
Published on 18 Nov 2010 by Mr. N. J. Woodall
5.0 out of 5 stars Scouting For Boys
Arrived very quickly and in excellent condition, thoroughly recommend this seller. Very useful book too fascinating reading, like stepping back 100 years, advice still relevant to... Read more
Published on 21 Aug 2010 by T. C. Knight
5.0 out of 5 stars scouting for boyes
i bought this book when i was 13 and now for the sake of nostalgia i have bought it again i am now 75 i still find it a good read with principles some of our modern youths could... Read more
Published on 6 Mar 2010 by Mr. Donald Crabtree
3.0 out of 5 stars Scouting for boys review
I have been looking forward to receiving a copy of this book for a long time. It was worth the wait
Published on 2 Jun 2009 by Amazon Customer
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