Critical Praise for The Scouting Party
''My cup-runneth-over with admiration for Scott and Murphy's The Scouting Party. The amount of primary research conducted by the authors is deeply impressive. But, even more importantly, they remind us that Boy Scouts has been a whooping one hundred year success. Consider this scholarly book a gift to America.'' --Douglas Brinkley, author of The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America
''Be Prepared! David C. Scott and Brendan Murphy have unsheathed their machetes and blazed a trail through the thickets of the fierce (and strangely delicate) masculine ideals that created the Boy Scouts. The story, with its subtexts of Anglo-Saxon superiority, chivalry, clean living, and military preparedness, explains much about the rough-rider ethos of American life in the early twentieth century. And for their handling of the colossal egos at the center of the story, the authors deserve merit badges in humor and fair play.'' --Patricia O'Toole, author of When Trumpets Call: Theodore Roosevelt after the White House and The Five of Hearts: An Intimate Portrait of Henry Adams and His Friends
''The Scouting Party is part history, part detective narrative as it uncovers and catalogues in rich detail the jealousies, intrigues, and earnest efforts of the men who created the Boy Scouts. Through careful research and vivid descriptions, Scott and Murphy have told a story that is fundamentally and uniquely American.'' --Candice Millard, author of The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey
''[The Scouting Party] makes the perfect gift for any Scouting enthusiast as the organization launches into its second century.'' --Scouting Magazine, Boy Scouts of America
''The Scouting Party brings Scouting's founders to life.'' --Eagle Scout Magazine, The National Eagle Scout Association, Boy Scouts of America
Set in the Progressive Era so dominated by President Theodore Roosevelt, The Scouting Party tells the story of the strong-minded and at times conflicting individuals, including Roosevelt, who shaped the Boy Scouts of America as it was founded a century ago in 1910 and took shape within a few years.
The Scouting Party examines in particular the role of British-Canadian naturalist Ernest Thompson Seton, whose trailblazing Woodcraft Indians strongly influenced the British founder of Scouting, General Robert Baden-Powell. Seton became the intellectual mainspring of the Boy Scouts of America in its formative years. But BSA organizers preferred Baden-Powell s more conventional model to Seton s vision of a youth movement based on the culture and values of the American Indian.
Seton, well known to Americans for his best-selling book, Wild Animals I Have Known, and his vivid lectures on wildlife, found himself increasingly at odds with BSA management between 1910 and 1915 over issues of organizational philosophy. He also clashed frequently with Dan Beard, an illustrator for Mark Twain and founder of the Sons of Daniel Boone, a rival to the Seton Indians, over precedence in the field. Seton and Beard both wrangled with BSA Executive Secretary James E. West, who arbitrated their frequent wrangles while keeping BSA solvent as the organization rapidly expanded.
The exuberant personality of U.S. senior statesman Theodore Roosevelt looms large throughout The Scouting Party as an influential early patron and at times critic of BSA as it embraced pacifism in the initial years of the First World War. Upon U.S. entry into the conflict in 1917, however, BSA threw itself behind the war effort, in the process becoming a quintessential American institution.