Crammed to bursting with tales of the gnarliest men and women ever, Badass: A Relentless Onslaught of the Toughest Warlords, Vikings, Samurai, Pirates, Gunfighters, and Military Commanders to Ever Live ($12) is mighty fine reading. Historian Ben Thompson, of the highly entertaining website, Badass of the Week, delves into the legends of 40 real (and sometimes fictional) butt-kickers like Chandragupta Maurya. Who's Maurya? Why, he's an Indian warlord who utilized a cadre of female bodyguards and commanded an army of drunk elephants. Doesn't everyone know that? Well, you do now!

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