Monday, July 6, 2015

Book Review: Badass

Even though many Americans love barbequing and watching fireworks on Independence Day, they find the actual history of how we achieved our independence from Britain boring. 
If they bother to learn it at all.
Or any history, for that matter.
Part of the problem may often be in how history is written, or presented.
Take this passage from Wikipedia on The First Triumvirate
The First Triumvirate was a political alliance between three prominent Roman politicians (triumvirs) which included Gaius Julius Caesar, Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus (Pompey the Great) and Marcus Licinius Crassus.
Informative, but dull to read, isn't it?
(Yes, I know it's from Wikipedia, but I'm sure you've read textbooks that should have been filed under the Self-Help Section because they're good cures for insomnia).
Now here's a passage regarding Caesar, Pompey and Crassus, from page 57 of Badass, by Ben Thompson:
These guys called themselves the triumvirate, which is the official term for a group of three classical-age diabolical madmen working together to control the government until such time as they all decide to backstab and kill each other.
While this may not be the most accurate forensic psychoanalysis of Caesar and his Frenemies, it's certainly a more lively account of Roman politics than you'll find in any sleep-inducing textbook.
And there's 39 other badasses (and some badassettes) in this book about the ...relentless onslaught of the toughest warlords, Vikings, samurai, pirates, gunfighters, and military commanders to ever live.
Badass began as the website Badass of the Week, which continues to provide an ever-growing list of badasses, in history, mythology and fiction.
Both book and website are written in an over-the-top, pulp-fiction, profanity-laced, humorous style.
In addition to--or despite--the entertainment/shock value, the author does shed light on some of history's obscure historical figures, such as: Chandagrupta Maurya, Liu Ji, Tomoe Gozen, Bass Reeves, Henry Lincoln Johnson, Irena Sebrova and Bhanbhagta Gurung.
Badass enjoys an overall 4.1 out of 5 stars on
I give it 4-stars myself.  I thought the book was both entertaining as well as informative.  However, while I'm not offended by printed profanity, I try to be more judicious using it in my own writing.
However, not everyone loved Badass
Out of 138 raters, 12% gave it only 1-star, and 5% gave it 2-stars, while 6% thought the book was okay, but could have been better. 
(Note:  Amazon has gone to percentages instead of actual numbers of  raters).
Many these readers were put-off by author's style, while several of them complained about historical inaccuracies.
I only spotted one factoid that I thought was incorrect.  This doesn't mean no other mistakes exist within the pages of Badass.  I simply didn't catch them.  I'm more of a "big picture" kind of guy anyway.  Plus, I'm too lazy too busy to conduct a badass fact-check on Badass.
If you read the front and back covers of Badass, you'll see you have a book that focuses on entertainment.  This isn't a bad thing, since it may energize a reader into examining more boring tomes scholarly works.
Sometimes you can judge a book by it's cover--and it's illustrated pages--which were provided by the following artists:
Steven Belledin, who also did the front cover, and,
(Image by Matt Haley on Badass of the Week FAQs)
In case your wondering why this book review contains a few other labels, it's because I bought my copy of Badass at this year's Emerald City Comicon.  So Badass's author might be a badass himself, but he's pleasant enough to autograph his books.

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