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Badass: A Relentless Onslaught of the Toughest Warlords, Vikings, Samurai, Pirates, Gunfighters, and Military Commanders to Ever Live
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Badass: A Relentless Onslaught of the Toughest Warlords, Vikings, Samurai, Pirates, Gunfighters, and Military Commanders to Ever Live

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  1,461 Ratings  ·  213 Reviews
The badasses populating the pages of Badass are the most savagely awesome historical figures to ever strap on a pair of chain mail gauntlets and run screaming into battle. Author Ben Thompson—considered by many to be the Internet’s foremost expert on badassitude—has gathered together a rogues’ gallery of butt-stomping rogues, from Julius Caesar and Genghis Khan to Blackbea ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published October 27th 2009 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published 2009)
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History…complete with locker-room colloquialisms, nut scratching and the occasional fist and/or chest bump.

This is less a history book and more like a drunk conversation during a football game with your college roommate who’s majoring in history and pulling straight A’s despite living almost exclusively on Big Macs and bong resin. This is world history taught by the triumvirate of Sylvester Stallone, Samuel Jackson and John Madden.

....and I thought it was sooooooooooooooooo much fun.

Ben Thomps
Ben Thompson
Sep 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
I gave myself five stars in a flagrant, unabashed display of shameless self-promotion.
Scotty Schrier
May 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Okay, kid gloves are off. You take the title of this book and multiply that bitch by like 10 or something. Then, go and punch a shark in the junk. And you STILL won't be as Badass as this book.

To come close you'd have to conquer a nation...or TWO...and then do a fricken backflip for no fucking reason other than to kick GOD himself in his bearded chin. (You prove that you could.)After that, you'd have to survive some insurmountable WAY worse than that 300 shit you saw. Only
Mar 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: humor, nonfiction
Ben Thompson has selected certain badass individuals from history and summarized their no-holds-barred lives by putting them up against his own '90s pop culture measuring stick for badasses. He covers 40 badasses through Antiquity, the Middles Ages, the Age of Gunpowder, and the Modern Era, and inside you will read on figures from Ramses to Vlad the Impaler to the Red Baron to Bruce Lee. In short, this book is enlightening at times, LOL-funny at times, and overall just face-explodingly victoriou ...more
May 03, 2010 rated it it was ok
A history book that describes various kick ass people in detail? Sounds like a great idea! Too bad the execution sucked.

The problem is that the writer is too busy using modern hyperbole to describe each person that it just becomes silly. For instance in one description the viking Harald Hardrada is described as doing a top rope elbow drop, while in another Miyamoto Musashi is described as rocking out to 80s metal. Seriously, it ends up feeling like a 14 year old boy wrote the book. And because o
Keith Wick
Nov 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This was such a ridiculously fun book to read. If it were appropriate to use in a public high school to teach students to get excited about history, I'd totally recommend it for the age group--especially teenage boys.

Now, I'm no longer a teenage boy myself, but I do appreciate obnoxious sarcasm from time to time, and I certainly enjoy a good hyper-masculine, testosterone-fueled look back at historical figures.

Combine that with a proclivity for words one rarely hears in polite conversation and a
Feb 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Let me be clear on this: This book is rude, profane, and is directed to people with the emotional maturity of a seventh grader.
And I laughed until it hurt.
What I imagined was some marginally literate surfer dude who was given an encyclopedia of military history, and who keeps rushing into your dorm room screaming, "You gotta get a load of THIS!" and then paraphrases what he read about some skull-crushing, throat-tearing Conan the Barbarian type. The exuberance and enthusiasm of the author jumps
Aug 14, 2010 rated it liked it
I thought this book might just be a colorful title, but it turns out the title was just an indicator of everything that was inside. The author took a bunch of historic figures, most of them military but a handful of law enforcement types, Nikola Tesla, and Bruce Lee, then wrote up biographies explaining why they were badasses. If he didn't write like a 14 year old wrestling fan, it might have been better. Sadly, his style seems to repeat itself a lot, with goofy lists, odd similes, and lots of r ...more
Vikram Chatterji
Dec 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Gritty, tough and surprisingly informative !
Ben Thompson has a very pedestrian and kickass form of narration that makes reading about all the Badasses a LOT of fun.

It covers the ages from Ramses to Chandragupta Maurya to Jonathan Netanyahu, by dividing the book into four eras.
Makes history so much easier to consume.
the FEW chapters on badass ladies were alright, but the style is way too frat-bro for me to enjoy. when you have to amend your compliment of a "balls-out" attack to a "tits-out" one, you should be able to realize the limits of your gendered language.
Gerry O'Malley
Sep 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Any 12 year old boy trapped in the body of a 50 year old man.
This is one of the funniest books I have ever read.

I've read a lot of books by stand-up comics and most of them aren't funny. The stand-up act just doesn't translate to the written word (Denis Leary is an example, Jim Norton is an exception). On his webpage Ben Thompson describes himself as "a full-time corporate wage slave who spends his spare time writing about things he thinks are badass" and he runs an hilarious website called "" that should be required reading for every
Miroku Nemeth
May 14, 2012 rated it it was ok
I like to read books that will augment my understanding of history, and sometimes much can be gained from an entertaining read that may not be too academically heavy.
Though I should have known from the title, the rhetorical style of the author is something akin to a fourteen-year-old comic book nerd who has learned a few words of how “real men” talk and parrots them ad nauseam in attempt at Spike TV-type “manliness”. A few pages in, it becomes extremely tiresome, and it is sustained throughout
Jul 14, 2015 rated it it was ok
As I breezed through the beginning chapters of 'Badass', I laughed heartily at author Ben Thompson's narrative style. That is, a drunken Frat Boy who just so happens to know a lot about historical figures. Eventually this over-the-top, yet bastardized summation of history's greatest badasses gets quite old. As Thompson dragged me along, the humor I found in the early pages turned to frustration. Thompson adds a lot of colorful, clearly false accomplishments to every figure he describes, which is ...more
Aug 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
As is pretty typical with anyone who uses humour in writing, people are bound to hate it for being too 'this' or not enough 'that'. And obviously (as I can see from other reviewers) I'm not the first to tout Ben Thompson's first book as being a little over the top, but only at certain times. But I'm more than a little suspicious that this book had so many bad reviews despite the fact that it distinctly reminds me of movies like the Hangover, Wedding Crashers, and anything on the Spike channel, e ...more
May 26, 2010 rated it liked it
What do you do with an honors graduate with degrees in history and political science? Why, write a book, of course! Thompson proves that BA degrees aren’t as useless as they seem by penning a raucous, rollicking ride through history filled with testosterone-fueled back-handed badassery. Although there doesn’t seem to be much rhyme or reason as to how Thompson chose his historical subjects – some are genocidal maniacs, and others true patriots defending themselves from such people – Thompson’s wr ...more
James Piper
Coarse, crude, offensive.

It's history meets shock disc jockey. That might work if there was something clever in the shock but it's pedestrian and repetitive. It also uses references to US culture and society that I'm not familiar with and hence I'm lost by it.

Here's some irony. He writes about how the Spartans would banish "pussies" to Athens, those who wanted to study and read books instead of being a Spartan who focused on being a warrior. It seems the author agrees with the Spartans and yet
Mr. Kovach
Feb 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book was very enjoyable. I finished reading it while my wife was having surgery on her broken leg, and it helped me take my mind off of being very worried about her. Books can do that! Thankfully, the surgery went well and the book was terrific. If you love history you will probably like this book. It is about the greatest military commanders and fighters of history. It portrays them in a way that is very fun to read, with basically a "kick ass" attitude. I'm not sure I'm supposed to say th ...more
Steve Chaput
Dec 16, 2009 rated it really liked it
Thomson brilliantly and in a very, funny fashion presents the lives of those individuals who proved that the meek better just get out of the way because they aren't going to rule a darn thing. Not the nicest group of folks you would want to encounter, but certainly people who made a name for themselves, often despite huge odds. From soldiers and pirates to heroes and rogues you won't be bored. Thomson did do his research, but be prepared for some not so historically accurate "dialogue". Highly r ...more
Apr 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
Enjoyable... some parts are funny enough to make me spit milk out my nose (literally). I found that I ended up reading this book with my laptop open and Wikipedia up in my browser, just to fact-check each account, and every time, I said, "Son of a gun... that actually HAPPENED??!!" Thompson's style is a bit over the top, but this book was a quick read, and thoroughly enjoyable.
Feb 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I laughed. Hard. I told my friends about the book, with illustrative examples. They laughed hard as well. You'll laugh hard, too.

And, as Bill Cosby used to say about the "Fat Albert" show, if you're not careful, you might learn something before it's done.
Jun 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This one is a keeper. Thompson makes history modern and funny and memorable. I especially like the five tips in the beginning of the book for what makes a badass, as they come from all times, races and creeds. You want to be like the people in the book, if not as bloodthirsty in some cases.
Jan 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Awesome. Just awesome.
Jul 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a dumb but incredibly fun book. It's dumb because it is written in an over the top, testosterone infused, hyperbolic blog style. Which does turn out to be a lot of fun. A lot of names I knew but a few I didn't like Bass Reeves, Henry Lincoln Johnson, Jack Churchill, Irina Sebrova (why are there not movies about these guys!). There is an extensive bibliography but no footnotes or end notes so you are left to fact check on your own. Probably not the best source material but if you knew som ...more
May 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historia, joven
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 26, 2018 rated it it was ok
Learned about many interesting historical figures of whom I had never heard. Lower stars because this was not a style of writing I enjoyed--it's like a frat boy wrote the cliff notes version of a person's life. I did like the inclusion of some badass women!
James "JamiWan" Cook
Nov 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
If only school textbooks read with this much violence, swearing and use of colorful metaphor, maybe history class would have been more fun.
Ted Henkle
Jul 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: comedy, history, war
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
Abraham Thunderwolf
Aug 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
I'm a big fan of getting books from the library. Part of it stems from the fact that I'd rather spend my money on beer and sandwiches. I know, I know, I am a terrible person. I will tell you about how terrible I am freely. Part of it is because I think it's neat to find stuff in books, Badass didn't come with a shopping list/bookmark but a warning:
This is a POOR, ie, BAD, WRITER This is a STUPIDLY written book. This book seems to be written for ignorant, low IQ teenaged boys.

Scattered throughou
Jan 02, 2014 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Action history fans & teen boys.
In picking up this book you may notice dampness, don’t worry that’s just the testosterone dripping from every page. This book gives around 5 pages each to a series of historical figures (heroes and villains) that were the toughest of the tough, the “larger-than-life ass-kickers” people that we would label as a Badass!

The authors writes his overviews in a very over-the-top manner. Some examples:

- …so Duke William raised an army and started beating the crap out of everyone just to prove to his peo
May 26, 2014 rated it liked it
This book is less of a history book and more of what your drunk college buddy majoring in history who doesn't know how to talk to girls would tell you at a party while swinging a beer-can sword and wearing an inflatable viking helmet. There's a good selection of some of the biggest badasses in history (a few of which I wouldn't have chosen myself, but that's an opinion thing- after all, he only had forty slots) and it's very much written in a kind of colloquial, which I've always thought is a gr ...more
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I write stuff about badasses.
“We don't know much about our hero before 325 BCE-he just sort of materialized out of thin air like a face-melting UFO or a vengeful, homicidal rainbow, but apparently he had some serious beef with people in charge...” 2 likes
“These invincible barbarian warriors committed acts of untold cruelty upon the unsuspecting citizenry, slaughtering all those before them in a frenzy of blood and fire and then drinking their chocolate milk right out of the carton.” 1 likes
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