The Bookworm Sez 5-24-10 | TheFencePost.com

The Bookworm Sez 5-24-10

Terri Schlichenmeyer
LaCrosse, Wis.

Little kids are so amusing.

Take, for instance, the way younger cousins or siblings look up to you like miniature copy-cats. Whatever they catch you doing, you know they’re gonna try doing it sooner or later, too. It’s as if you’ve cloned your best (or worst) habits.

Who did you look up to when you were a kid? Who are your role models now? Before you answer, read “The Dangerous Book of Heroes” by Conn Iggulden and David Iggulden. You may find a few new people to look up to.

Without a doubt, you’ve had mentors in your life. Maybe a teacher or a friend’s parent has inspired you. Perhaps you want to be like your mom or dad someday. But every now and then, it’s good to read about someone who’s made a difference in the world with a selfless action that impacted the way we live.

Someone like Sir Ranulph Fiennes, whose early interests in history, climbing and sports led him to a “career” as an explorer. We can thank Fiennes for what we know about certain previously-unmapped areas of British Columbia.

When nurse Edith Cavell was offered safe passage to Holland by German officials at the start of World War II, she refused. Her job, she said, was to care for the wounded, but when two fleeing British soldiers asked for shelter, Cavell saw another need. Her hospital became a part of the Belgian Underground, until Cavell was betrayed by a German spy. Before she was arrested for aiding the enemy and was executed in October, 1915, Cavell saved the lives of two hundred Allied soldiers.

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Before Anne Sullivan became her Teacher, Helen Keller had worked out her own version of “sign language.” Sioux Chief Sitting Bull got his name by literally wrestling a bull into a sitting position. Ten thousand men and women worked in secret to create the world’s first computer in order to decipher codes during World War II. Harry Houdini quietly gave away a fortune in gold to down-and-out soldiers. And a group of prisoners in a musty World War II castle repeatedly tried to escape.

Their tenacity will astound you.

“Courage is perhaps the first requirement for inclusion here,” say authors Conn Iggulden and David Iggulden in their introduction, and they nailed that premise completely in the stories they include in their book.

While “The Dangerous Book of Heroes” has the unfortunate feel of an old textbook and while I noticed a few “facts” that don’t match well-established legends, I nonetheless enjoyed reading the biographies the Igguldens offer. I was also intrigued by the abundance of rogues in this book (the Igguldens explain those devilish inclusions in their introduction), and the wealth of information about famous and not-so-famous individuals whose stories often go untold.

Perfect for older teens or adults in search of quick-to-read mini-bios, this book could also help with Scouting projects or school assignments. If you’re looking for something inspirational and slightly daring, “The Dangerous Book of Heroes” is a good book to look up.

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