cover image Badass: Ultimate Deathmatch

Badass: Ultimate Deathmatch

Ben Thompson. Morrow, $16.99 trade paper (416p) ISBN 978-0-06-211234-7

Continuing with his theme of profiling badasses in all their badassery (his stated aim here is to recount “forty of my all-time favorite beatdowns from history”), Thompson marches on, recounting epic battles, standoffs, and skirmishes from antiquity through modern times in this testosterone-fueled collection. Beginning with the tale of Cyrus the Great’s 6th century B.C.E. attack on Lydia, Thompson (Badass: Birth of a Legend) covers all manner of conflicts, ranging from large-scale battles (e.g., Operation Desert Storm) to one-man-standing gunfights (like 77-year-old Don Alejo Garza Tamez’s shootout with Mexican gangsters in 2010), peppering the bloody tales with plenty of pop culture references and liberal doses of sarcasm. This approach, coupled with the brief summations of the battles, makes for engaging though wearying reading, best consumed in small doses. But that’s not to say the book isn’t wildly entertaining or well written. Thompson’s unabashed enthusiasm for his material (“Scythed war chariots are probably some of the most badass and most underappreciated weapons in all of ancient warfare.”) is palpable and infectious, and his research is admirable. Fans of mayhem—mythical and real—as well as military strategists will find this to be a worthwhile investment. 40 b&w illus. Agents: Farley Chase, Chase Literary Agency; Sean Daily, Hotchkiss and Associates. (Mar.)