Excerpt from The Dangerous Book for Boys by Conn Iggulden, Hal Iggulden, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Dangerous Book for Boys

by Conn Iggulden, Hal Iggulden

The Dangerous Book for Boys
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  • Published:
    May 2007, 288 pages

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Chapter One

Essential Gear

It isn't that easy these days to get hold of an old tobacco tin—but they are just the right size for this sort of collection. One of the authors once took a white mouse into school, though considering what happened when he sat on it, that is not to be recommended. We think pockets are for cramming full of useful things.

1. Swiss Army Knife.

Still the best small penknife. It can be carried in luggage on planes, though not in hand luggage. It is worth saving up for a high-end model, with as many blades and attachments as you can get. That said, there are good ones to be had for about $30. They are useful for jobs requiring a screwdriver, removing splinters and opening bottles of beer and wine, though this may not be a prime consideration at this time.

Leather holders can also be purchased and the best ones come with a few extras, like a compass, matches, pencil, paper, and Band-Aid.

2. Compass.

These are satisfying to own. Small ones can be bought from any camping or outdoor store and they last forever. You really should know where north is, wherever you are.

3. Handkerchief.

There are many uses for a piece of cloth, from preventing smoke inhalation or helping with a nosebleed to offering one to a girl when she cries. Big ones can even be made into slings. They're worth having.

4. Box of Matches.

It goes without saying that you must be responsible. Matches kept in a dry tin or inside a plastic bag can be very useful on a cold night when you are forced to sleep in a field. Dipping the tips in wax makes them waterproof. Scrape the wax off with a fingernail when you want to light them.

5. A Shooter.

Your favorite big marble.

6. Needle and Thread.

Again, there are a number of useful things you can do with these, from sewing up a wound on an unconscious dog to repairing a torn shirt. Make sure the thread is strong and then it can be used for fishing.

7. Pencil and Paper.

If you see a crime and want to write down a license plate number or a description, you are going to need one. Alternatively, it works for shopping lists or practically anything.

8. Small Flashlight

There are ones available for key rings that are small and light. If you are ever in darkness and trying to read a map, a flashlight of any kind will be useful.

9. Magnifying Glass.

For general interest. Can also be used to start a fire.

10. Band-Aids.

Just one or two, or better still, a piece from a cloth bandage roll that can be cut with penknife scissors. They probably won't be used, but you never know.

11. Fishhooks.

If you have strong thread and a tiny hook, you only need a stick and a worm to have some chance of catching something. Put the hook tip into a piece of cork, or you'll snag yourself on it.

The Greatest Paper Airplane in the World

In the 1950s, an elementary school principal found a boy throwing paper airplanes from a high window. The head was considering punishments when he noticed the plane was still in the air, flying across the playground below. The boy escaped a detention, but he did have to pass on the design to the principal—who passed it on to his own children. You will find more complicated designs. You may be sold the idea that the best planes require scissors and lessons in origami. This is nonsense.

The plane on the right—the Harrier—is simple, fast and can be made from a letter-size sheet of paper. It is the best long-distance glider you'll ever see—and with a tweak or two, the best stunt plane. It has even won competitions. One was to clear the entire road from a hotel balcony next to Windsor Castle in London on New Year's Eve. Four other planes hit the tarmac—this one sailed clear across. The one on the left—the Bulldog Dart—is a simple dart, a warm-up plane, if you like. It's a competent glider.

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The foregoing is excerpted from The Dangerous Book for Boys by Conn Iggulden, and Hal Iggulden. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced without written permission from HarperCollins Publishers, 10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022

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