SCOUT'S HONOR: A Father's Unlikely Foray into the Woods

Peter Applebome, Author . Harcourt $24 (330p) ISBN 978-0-15-100592-5

New York Times writer and author Applebome (Dixie Rising) turns from the political to the personal as he recounts his adventures over three years as a Scoutmaster for his son's Boy Scout troop in suburban New York. A "committed indoorsman" who was turned off by the "dorky superfluity" of scouting during his own baby boomer childhood, he "soon found himself sucked in to Scouting" and "the way that it brought kids and dads together in a totally noncompetitive way." This engaging book moves back and forth among three narrative strands. Applebome gives a loving and often amusing description of his son's scouting adventures, "one part Braveheart and one part Lord of the Flies." He provides an excellent short history of the Boy Scouts, from the Edwardian roots of its first leader, the "astoundingly complex" British war hero and "repressed homosexual" Lord Robert Baden-Powell, to its current enrollment decline. He also discusses the institutional scouting policy that bans gays from being members, a position successfully defended before the Supreme Court. Applebome struggles with the tension between the right of free association and the "threadbare" logic of the Scout position. But while he disagrees with the ban, he too easily dismisses it as having "minimal real-world implications," not fully acknowledging that the wonderfulness of this "unexpected vehicle to share [his] son's youth" is something that the Boy Scout organization openly denies to parents with gay children. (May)

Reviewed on: 04/07/2003
Release date: 05/01/2003
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 330 pages - 978-0-15-602968-1
Prebound-Sewn - 978-1-4177-0641-9
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