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Baden-Powell [Paperback]

By Tim Jeal (Author)
Our Price $ 20.40  
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Item Number 159432  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   670
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 7.5" Width: 5" Height: 1.9"
Weight:   1.05 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Aug 31, 2001
Publisher   Yale University Press
ISBN  0300091036  
EAN  9780300091038  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
R.S.S. Baden-Powell, who founded the Boy Scouts movement in 1908, was a British military hero during the Boer War and an author, actor, artist, spy, sportsman, and female impersonator. In this absorbing and humane account of Baden-Powell's extraordinary life, Tim Jeal reveals for the first time the complex figure behind the saintly public mask, showing him to be a man of both dazzling talents and crippling secret fears.

Reviews of the earlier edition:

"Baden-Powell's life story is as rich and engrossing as any of his memorable campfire yarns . . . a monumental biography."---Zara Steiner, New York Times Book Review

"In an age of good biographies, here is one that deserves to be called great . . . a magnificent book."---Piers Brendon, Mail on Sunday

"Jeal's Baden-Powell is brave and self-seeking, devious and honorable, a domestic paragon whose repressed homosexuality fired his career, a soldier of genius who ultimately rejected militarism. . . . The story that Tim Jeal has to tell is epic, funny, and touching."---Philip Oakes, New Statesman

"Superb."---Ian Buruma, New York Review of Books

Buy Baden-Powell by Tim Jeal from our Christian Books store - isbn: 9780300091038 & 0300091036

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More About Tim Jeal

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Tim Jeal is also the biographer of Henry Morton Stanley (National Book Critics' Circle Award in Biography and Sunday Times Biography of the Year 2007), and Robert Baden-Powell, which (like Livingstone) was chosen as a Notable Book of the Year by the New York Times and the Washington Post. In 2011 his Explorers of the Nile was a New York Times Editor's Choice and a BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week.

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Product Categories
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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Exhaustive and exhausting - not for the neophite  Jan 6, 2006
About a quarter of the way through this book, I was ready to toss it. I am glad I didn't. It suffers at times from mind-numbing detail and Jeal occasionally assumes knowledge I doubt most readers possess (particularly 19th century British military minutia). The pace is very slow through most of the book - not surprising considering the volume of information covered. And I do NOT recommend it as a first book on Baden-Powell! Tackle Russell Freedman's much more readable "Scouting With Baden-Powell" or spend a week with William "green Bar Bill" Hillcourt's long but less-scholarly "Baden-Powell The Two Lives of a Hero" (written with Olave Baden-Powell, the General's wife). But the reader looking for the most comprehensive and balanced treatment of Lord R.S.S. Baden-Powell should read this book. I have a much better feeling for and understanding of BP as result of reading this book.

The text is primarily chronological. However, when dealing with specific aspects in Baden-Powell's life, he sometimes discusses issues and recounts all the related incidents, which can be somewhat confusing because it interrupts the chronological flow. I found myself having to stop reading to put these "breakout" incidents into chronological synchronization with things already discussed.

The illustrations and photos are excellent. The photographs are grouped into three sections on higher quality paper. They will make little sense until you read the text referring to them. I really love BP's illustrations! They are sprinkled throughout the book (and in the original hardback edition called "The Boy-Man", are on the inside covers). The footnotes are copious but very difficult to use, numbered by section, not chapter, all at the end rather than at the foot of the pages and without referring page numbers, and many referring to documents by a code name which is keyed in a bibliographic section. The index was only marginally useful, rather short for such a large book, and limited in scope. I feel as though Jeal could have made this the seven-volume "Compleat Life Of Baden-Powell" had he wished. At times, while reading this book, I wished he had (and at other times this thought sent chills down my spine).

The thing that put me off was Jeal's amateur psycho-analysis of the inner "Stephe". This permeates the book and distracts from the narrative. Perhaps in reaction to the slanderous assertions of other biographers, Jeal asserts that BP was a repressed homosexual. I found most of his arguments unpersuasive and reject this suggestion. He also implied that many Guide leaders were lesbians. Since his evidence of this was sketchy at best, I found it distracting. Yet he did not go into detail about the trials of Oscar Wilde and the resulting intolerance of homosexuality, which is important to the context of this issue. Another example of this unfortunate tendency of pseudo-psychology is in the epilogue ("Curbing the Beast and Reclaiming the Child"). Jeal suddenly begins discussing a darker side of Baden-Powell that was barely hinted at in the rest of the book. He attributes this darker BP to repressed childhood anger and a "lost childhood". It felt as if this was added on in the epilogue because he needed to say something about it and had neglected it through the rest of the text. These forays into psychology are the greatest weakness of this book.

Jeal's discussion of the Seige of Mafeking is nuanced. His treatment of Baden-Powell is obviously sympathetic, yet he also wants to show BP "warts and all." Jeal digs into the letters and diaries of not only Baden-Powell and his family, but even BP's officers and their families. As the book goes on, he relies more and more on interviews with people who were there, which gives the text a ring of authenticity that I did not find in other BP biographies. (For instance, he lists the inhabitants of Outspan in BP's last days as a result of an interview with one of the employees.)

In the later sections of the book, the detail is again dense and Jeal returns to psycho-analysis, but it does not (to me) seem as heavy-handed as in the beginning of the book (until the epilogue). I had not appreciated the conflicts and fitful starts of the early Scouting movement, and the power struggles that nearly wrecked it. I was dredfully ignorant of his home life and last years. I think Jeal was harsh with the two primary women in BP's life: his mother and wife. He paints both of them as unscrupulously domineering and cold. But his treatment of the end of BP's life is poignant and tender.

He addresses issues raised by other biographers and explains how he believes they are wrong based on documents and interviews in the five years he worked on this massive tome. I found this very interesting, but would rather have these things dealt with in their own chapter near the end, rather than scattered through the text. An example of this is his treatments of militarism in the early years of the movement and BP's opinions of the Fascist leaders Mussolini and Hitler.

The question of militarism could have been better addressed. The concerns and fears that the youth of the British Empire were weak and needed character building were concerns and fears felt around the world at that time. There were other similar organizations rising around the world at the same time. Jeal did not address the massive changes around the world from 1850 to 1950. The world had turned on its head economically (the rise of the middle classes and rich merchant barons, and the reaping of colonial economies), industrially (invention and commercialization of automobiles, airplanes, etc.), religiously ("Awakenings", new religious movements such as Mormonism, Christian Science, and the Salvation Army, and wide-spread atheism), politically (National Socialism and Communism) - in nearly every way. People were grasping for something larger than themselves to save them from being lost in the changing world. Jeal could have done more to place the events, particularly after the founding of the movement, into a context larger than the British Empire. He relates the world-wide travels of BP, but (with exception of the US) does not go into much detail on BP's relationships with Scouting organizations in other countries.

My conclusion from this book is that Baden-Powell was an ordinary man upon whom was thrust greatness. The picture that emerges is a complex man. BP was a social climber, not a good student, at times flighty, and a bit of a clown. He would take others' ideas to enrich his own. He was not above stretching the truth if it would make a better yarn around the campfire (or in a book). He was a man with feet of clay. He was an idealist. His concern for young people was quite genuine. He tried his best to be the role model for the movement. He created the greatest youth movement ever seen, almost without wanting to. He breathed into it the Soul of Scouting, which carried it around the world. He indeed did his best to do his duty to his country and all the Scouts of the world.
The definitive history of Robert Baden-Powell  Feb 21, 1999
An excellent read. I was impressed at the volume of information Jeal had at his disposal in researching the book. With all the references he had I cannot but think that this book IS the definitive history of Baden-Powell. Yes the book does raise some controversial questions about Baden-Powell but Jeal does not attempt to label Baden-Powell in any way; instead presenting to the reader facts from people close to Baden-Powell including extracts from Baden-Powells own diaries. The reader can draw their own conclusions. I found Jeals book to be an excellent read and an wonderful insight into the life and culture that existed during Baden-Powells life, and in particular, his army career. The worldwide Scouting movement owes Baden-Powell so much and I think every scout leader should read this book. I did!
Excellent, 5 years of research, Diary and letter references  Jan 24, 1998
Tim Jeal was given unrestricted access to the unrivalled family archive by the great-nephew Mr. Francis Baden-Powell. There are many pictures in this book that cannot be found anywhere else. Tim Jeal spent five years of research prior to writing this book. There are FIVE pages of acknowledgements which include, British Scout Association, Mr. J L Tarr (Chief Scout Executive of BSA) and numerous other sources. Mr Jeal was born in 1945. He attended Westminster School and Christ Church in Oxford. His previous biography of David Livingstone was honored by the literary editors of The New York Times and the Washington Post. He lives in north London with his wife and three daughters. Tim Jeal was cognizant of the gap that existed in Lord Baden-Powell's not having a full and objective biography. He spent five years on research. He was able to obtain unique access to people who knew Baden-Powell and to a huge amount of unstudied private papers of Lord Baden-Powell. This is an EXCELLENT book and the many references from Baden-Powell's Diaries and Letters give candid and honest information that cannot be found anywhere else. A must read for those who are interested in having access to information not normally available and making up their own minds.
Juel does not do the founder of Scouting Justice  Jan 3, 1998
Actually the full title of this book is Baden-Powell, The Boy-Man. This is a well researched but dry treastie of the founder of Scouting. You get the strong sense that Juel knows very little of Scouting and was writing the book more from the point of having been a fellow military officer. What is sad however is that Juel seems to be taking part in a relatively recent phenomenon in our culture to shatter our hero figures. We now know George Washington did not really cut down the Cherry tree and Abe Lincoln was manic depressive. Juel want's everyone to know that B-P had his faults as well. In much the same vein that some historian muckrakers spend their time in an effort at character assination, Juel has devoted the thrust of his effort into a character assination of B-P. Anyone who is interested in Baden-Powell could find many other books in print that are far more readable than this one (Green Bar Bill Hillcourt's Two Lives of a Hero comes to mind and it is available right here on this site). Despite its relatively recent release the book flopped and was quickly discontinued, Scouters would not waste time or money reading it, scout shops would not carry it, and it is, after all, a dull and uninspired effort at best. The Boy Man & the Character Factory (by Rosenthal) are two B-P Books Scouters would do well to skip.

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