Scouting for Boys: The App

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Few 20th-century books have had more impact on society than Scouting for Boy, the world’s first Boy Scout handbook (and, in many ways, an introduction to Boy Scouting to the world at large). First published in as a six-part serial in 1907, the book later appeared as a single volume and later still (after Scouting spread around the world) in a “world brotherhood” edition.

Now, it’s available as an iPhone app for $4.99.

This app, Scouting for Boys, is not just a digital version of the book. (In fact, you’d be better off buying a print or Kindle version if you just want to read the book.) Instead, the book provides facsimiles of the original serial version’s pages, the pages of Baden-Powell’s typescript that still exist, a variety of correspondence related to the book’s publication, an essay about the book’s development, a gallery of images from the book, and even three early reviews of the book. Here’s an excerpt from one of those reviews:

The object of the gallant general appears to be to induce the little boys of this country to be up and doing, to imitate the prowess of Richard the Lion-hearted and the Crusaders who careered around the world in days of old when knights were bold. He shows that there may be peace-scouting as well as war-scouting, for has not Milton told us that “Peace hath her victories no less renowned than war!” Thus, when war’s alarms do not call the little boy to fight for his country at the front he may serve her by removing a piece of banana-skin from the pavement or by helping an old lady across the road–excellent and sound advice.

The app is not perfect–three B-P videos it links to never loaded for me–but it’s nonetheless a fun way to explore Scouting’s founding document.

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