A Relentless Onslaught of the Toughest Warlords, Vikings, Samurai, Pirates, Gunfighters, and Military Commanders to Ever LiveBook - 2009
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Out with the dusty old history books, in with the new. When written by an honours grad in history and political science who clearly has a fondness for Dungeons and Dragons and various blood-n-guts video games, history is anything but dull and dusty. Ben Thompson’s enthusiasm for his subject is clear, and his conversational story-telling style brings these historical hellions into sharp focus. Many names will be familiar, such as Alexander the Great, William the Conqueror, and Vlad the Impaler, but many are obscure, like Wolf the Quarrelsome who lived somewhere around 1014 A.D. and was a “mysterious barbarian leader who only appears in history twice – and both times he’s kicking someone’s [butt]”. But the toughs were not all men. Thompson includes a fair number of women of distinction, such as Julia Agrippina, Caligula’s sister and mother of Nero, Tomoe Gozen, a lady samurai who was “a match for a thousand warriors”, and Irina Sebrova, who led the “Night Witches”, an all-female WWII Russian bomber unit flying rickety, obsolete aircraft. The rogues range from the really nasty (i.e. Ghengis Khan) to the super-skilled (Carlos Hathcock, marine sniper), to the inspirational (Horatio Nelson). Arranged in sections labeled antiquity, middle ages, the age of gunpowder and the modern era, each rascal is written up in five pages or less, with accompanying graphic-novel-like illustrations (and a lot of impolite phrasing, be warned), making this a very fast-paced, easy-to-read history book. And if it happens to spark a further interest in one or more of the firebrands mentioned, Thompson provides an excellent bibliography of more than 200 references for further reading – although they are not likely to be quite as entertaining as Thompson’s.
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