Iggulden, Hal 1972-
Iggulden, Hal 1972-
Born 1972, in England; father a math and science teacher. Hobbies and other interests: Astronomy, gadgets, dogs, soccer.
Children's author and stage director. Holdfast Theatre Company, Leicester, England, artistic director.
(With brother Conn Iggulden) named among Time magazine's "People Who Mattered," 2007; Galaxy Book Award Best Book of the Year designation, 2007, for The Dangerous Book for Boys.
(With brother, Conn Iggulden) The Dangerous Book for Boys, illustrated by Richard Horne, HarperCollins (London, England), 2006, U.S. edition, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2007, abridged versions published in four volumes as The Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys: Things to Do, Things to Know, Wonders of the World, and Facts, Figures, and Fun, 2008.
(With Conn Iggulden) Dangerous Heroes, HarperCollins (London, England), 2009.
The Dangerous Book for Boys was adapted as an audiobook, read by Oliver Wyman, 2007, and a television series in the United Kingdom; film rights to the book were acquired by Disney, 2008.
Hal Iggulden took time out from his work in the theatre to join his older brother, educator and writer Conn Iggulden, in researching and compiling The Dangerous Book for Boys. Tapping into the nostalgia surrounding the childhoods of an earlier, less-technological age, The Dangerous Book for Boys became something of a publishing phenomenon when it appeared on bookstore shelves in the Igguldens' native England in 2006.
Inspired by memories of their own childhood, and aided by the suggestions of friends and family, the Iggulden brothers set aside over six months to complete The Dangerous Book for Boys, researching and writing and sometimes even testing their information full time for over half a year. They wrote the book in the hopes that it would inspire children to chose outdoor games and interactive pastimes in favor of sitting at a computer or television playing video and online games.
In addition to retelling inspiring tales about real men—including explorers, athletes, and other dashing figures from history—and explaining the how-tos of building tree forts, crafting paper airplanes, and constructing bow and arrow and go-carts, The Dangerous Book for Boys also reveals the art of basic knot tying and the proper use of a Swiss army knife. The needs of the trivia-obsessed are also fulfilled in the process, and the rules of several sports are outlined in a text that is salted with Latin phrases and literary quotes. "The ironic thing about the [book's] title is that the only truly dangerous thing is ignorance," the brothers commented during an online interview for Gateway Monthly. "We wanted to recapture the spirit we had as boys, when everything was interesting and danger was fun. There are always limits, of course—Boys Own [magazine] thought nothing of including Nitric acid etching of metal. Apparently, you can burn your fingers off with the stuff, so that couldn't go in. In part, the title is a reaction to the health and safety culture that prevents old ladies making cakes for each other at [retirement] … homes. The safest place in the world is a cage—but where's the fun in that?"
As Juliet Townsend wrote in her Spectator review, The Dangerous Book for Boys "will give your children hours of pleasure, as long as you do not mind spending the holiday being attacked by homemade bows and arrows, catapults and water bombs." Dubbing it "a literary cherry bomb," Vanity Fair contributor Frank DiGiacomo added that the Igguldens' book is "a testosterone-fueled throwback of a field guide" that taps into the brothers' wide-ranging interests while growing up in the 1970s and 1980s. It also responds to the concerns of contemporary parents (Conn Iggulden is the father of three) in an age of obesity and media saturation. Noting the text's "appealing personal tone," School Library Journal contributor Steven Engelfried also observed that "tongue-in-cheek humor emerges throughout" the book's pages.
One of the reasons why The Dangerous Book for Boys gained such widespread media attention in both the United Kingdom and the United States was its boy-only focus. Noting the volume's "retro look" and old-fashioned, politically incorrect appeal, Weekly Standard writer Roger Kimball wrote: "I wouldn't be at all surprised if The Dangerous Book for Boys were banned by zealous school groups, social workers, and other moral busybodies." As Mona Charen observed in the National Review following the book's U.S. publication, The Dangerous Book for Boys "marks how far we have progressed from the feminist Dark Ages of a couple of decades ago. Here is an absolutely brilliant compendium of things that captivate the male of the species—and it is flying off the shelves." Commenting on her own son's reaction, Charen added: "The Iggulden brothers appreciate a boy's curiosity about nature, history, mechanical things, and magic tricks. But they also gratify a boy's longing for stories of courage, extraordinary deeds, and sacrifice." Not surprisingly, however, such curiosity is not limited to boys; a similarly formatted, companion volume to the Igguldens' book, titled The Daring Book for Girls, has also been released.
Biographical and Critical Sources
Horn Book, September-October, 2007, Roger Sutton, review of The Dangerous Book for Boys, p. 596.
Nation, July 9, 2007, Katha Pollit, "Anything Boys Can Do …," p. 10.
National Review, June 25, 2007, Mona Charen "Boys Gotta' Be Boys," p. 45.
Newsweek, July 2, 2007, Jenni Yabroff, "The Myth of Boyhood," p. 17.
School Library Journal, May, 2007, Steven Engelfried, review of The Dangerous Book for Boys, p. 156.
Spectator, December 9, 2006, Juliet Townsend, review of The Dangerous Book for Boys.
Times Literary Supplement, August 18, 2006, Gerard Woodward, review of The Dangerous Book for Boys, p. 40.
Vanity Fair, May, 2007, Frank DiGiacomo, review of The Dangerous Book for Boys, p. 94.
Dangerous Book for Boys Web site,http://www.dangerousbookforboys.com/ (January 15, 2009).
Gateway Monthly Online,http://www.gatewaymonthly.com/ (July 1, 2006), interview with Conn and Hal Iggulden.