July 1, 2010

Where Eagles Dare... to Spurt

Do you dare?

I Dare You, Tenth Edition

This book was written by: William H. Danforth, founder of the Ralston Purina company and self-made man of the old school. Mr. Danforth pulled himself up by his bootstraps and wants to show you how to do the same, pausing along the way to relate a few anecdotes about his work with the YMCA in Europe during "the World War," when the Kaiser was getting frisky and had to be put in his place.

What is in this book: A personal challenge for you to do better. Mr. Danforth believes that personal development should occur in four areas—physical, mental, social, and religious—that are like four sides of a square, "the symbol of the richer, fuller life, the emblem that you are to follow in your daring crusade"(p.22). When you accept Mr. Danforth's challenge and follow his developmental guidance, "the four-fold life is yours because underneath a body that is under control and a mind keen as a briar and a personality that sparkles at every contact, there is a religion with truth, honesty and purity at its base"(p.112).

What is not in this book: Advice for people who are afraid of accomplishment.
"True, moments of weakness and depression and laziness are going to assail you. But that is the time for battle. One forward step—one swift constructive action—will send these enemies scurrying for cover"(p.13).
The magic square Mr. Danforth uses to change his life
Do you need Mr. Danforth to suggest some constructive actions? "I Dare You, who think life is humdrum, to start a fight"(p.xi). Or you can try some petty vandalism. "Start something! Break a window, if necessary"(p.11). Plan a boat trip through Somali waters!
"Wars and emergencies discover many unopened doors in people's lives. Why not declare War? Why not put a bomb under your capacities? Why not force a crisis?"(p.15)

Would you recommend this book to Flabby Fingers? Yes. He needs to know that Mr. Danforth has his number, saying "I dare you, Flabby Fingers, to develop into a Warm Handclasp"(p.78).

Would you recommend this book to a porn star? Yes. This book outlines some of the questions that they may want to ask themselves before a job interview:
1) Have I a capacity for hard work?
2) Can I keep everlastingly at it?
3) Have I sustained 'Pep and Punch'?
4) Do I maintain a high batting average?
5) What is my ability to spurt?"
This book also offers practical advice for their careers, reminding them that "every time you take liberties with your physical strength, such as eating or drinking things that do not agree with you, or losing sleep, you will find that some day you will pay the price when you need the ability to spurt"(p.26).

Are you going to quote the author's use of controversial words, even when used in a completely harmless and era-appropriate context? Absolutely. Mr. Danforth describes the way a friend of his piled up his dreams to make a list of things to do. "Dreams that were wild he pulled out of the pile as he would pull a wet faggot out of the fire"(p.58), and there's no way I can stop myself from quoting that.

Yes he was chairman of THAT Ralston Purina and kind of had a thing for checkerboardsWhat was interesting about this book? There is a very real chance that you will be a failure. "Don't be tempted to Dare beyond your capacity. That may entail disappointment and discouragement"(p.117). In fact, "there are many pages that would tell that other story of those who have been dared to do the super thing, but in whose eyes the light of battle failed to gleam"(p.4), but we won't waste time talking about those losers. Instead, get to work and remember that "you'll have to adventure in No Man's Land and dig in many times before you reach your objective"(p.59). Try not to think about how you may just end up dead in a trench.

I Dare You, Tenth Edition, by William H. Danforth (I Dare You Committee, 1941, St. Louis, Missouri)

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