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Geeks Fight Back

Updated on November 21, 2013

“I was a nerd who could kick your butt.” – Neil deGrasse Tyson

Alexander the Great

Aristotle taught him philosophy. Then he conquered the world.

“Alexander the Great in the Temple of Jerusalem,” c. 1750, by Sebastian Conca
“Alexander the Great in the Temple of Jerusalem,” c. 1750, by Sebastian Conca
Alfred the Great
Alfred the Great

Alfred the Great

Alfred, King of Wessex, initiated a great revival of learning in England. He restored Viking-damaged monasteries preserved much early literature and the language as a whole. He also reorganized the military defenses fought alongside his men.

Ralph Alger Bagnold

He founded the commando Long Range Desert Group that was responsible for much exploration, scouting, and transportation in World War II. He also had a great mind for physics and geology, which he used to write the book “The Physics of Blown Sand.” He made several other contributions to the scientific world and was awarded accordingly.

Hiram Bingham III

Though highly educated, he was not a trained archaeologist. Still, he managed to rediscover the ancient city Machu Picchu and then dedicated much of his time to South American expeditions. Later, he joined the U.S. Air Force and rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain

He was a professor at Bowdoin College until the Civil War broke out and his conscience told him to fight. Thanks to his skill in battle, most notably the Battle of Little Round Top at Gettysburg, he rose to the rank of Brigadier General. After the war, he returned to Maine where he served as governor then the president of Bowdoin.

“Little Round Top,” by John Paul Strain
“Little Round Top,” by John Paul Strain

Roald Dahl

Do you like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? Have you at least seen the movie? Well that book, like many others, is written by a man named Roald Dahl who, after going on an exploration expedition in Newfoundland proceeded to become an ace pilot in the Royal Air Force. He survived at least one direct hit, severe war injuries, multiple crash landings, and an encounter with a German convoy after one of said crashes. Then he came home and became an astonishingly popular author, selling millions of copies of his creative children’s tales, though he only won a few awards for them.

Frederick Douglass

After a rough childhood with much self-education and abuse, he beat up the slave-master who frequently whipped him. Then he became a prominent supporter of black rights and women’s rights, known for his oratory skills.

Jamie Hyneman

He’s a boat captain, animal wrangler, and wilderness survival expert. He shoots things. He blows stuff up. He… holds several patents, numerous awards, and a degree in Russian languages. That’s right! It’s Jamie Hyneman of Mythbusters fame. It’s nice to have some genuine talent on TV.

“The Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker Hill,” 1786, by John Trumbull
“The Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker Hill,” 1786, by John Trumbull

Joseph Warren

There were lots of “geeks” in the American Revolution – Thomas Edison and Benjamin Franklin, to name a couple, but most of them didn’t actually do any fighting. That’s why I’m digging around in obscure-people land to pull up Doctor/Major General Joseph Warren. Yup, when he wasn’t the master of a grammar school or writing for “the cause” he was a respected, practicing doctor (to John Adams and family, among others). Since he happened to live in Massachusetts when all the fighting went down, he felt it his duty to take up arms, from Lexington to Bunker Hill. He was often in the thick of the fight, whether fighting or tending to battle wounds. Eventually, he was killed in action at Bunker Hill.

Honorable Mention

Napoleon Bonaparte – He was brilliant and quite competent in the military, but that was pretty much the extent of his smarts.

Marcus Brutus – See my Hub on him. He was a philosopher and writer who, without experience in military command, ran a pretty successful campaign against Antonius and Octavius. He did make some errors in judgment, which is why he’s on this list.

Thomas Edward Lawrence – This writer led a revolt in Arabia, got captured and tortured, and then wrote a book about it. Not the best-written work ever, but the effort counts for something.

Richard III and Francis Lovell – These two were childhood friends, scholars, and warriors. Richard lead some good battles, and Francis lead a revolution against a pretender to the crown, participating firsthand in the fighting. They weren’t complete bookworms, but they were pretty close.

Maximilien Robespierre – He was lawyer and orator who sent a lot of people to their deaths. You wouldn’t want to mess with him, but it was more due to his reputation than his actual presence.

Neil deGrasse Tyson – Dr. Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium, spent his high school years wrestling and boxing. If only he kept up with that.


Brains or Brawn?

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    • Lita C. Malicdem profile image

      Lita C. Malicdem 7 years ago from Philippines

      I know at a glance what "geek' means, but as I went through reading this hub, I checked my word meaning. Fine, fine hub and a great writer of meanings. Napoleon Bonaparte was already stuck in my mind as far back as my school days. He was that military geek, you know!

    • dennithompson profile image

      Denni Thompson 7 years ago from NEW GLASGOW

      Napolean was an arrogant guy filled with pride. He did not even get a proper burial. Even though he is renown globaly but a waste of life. A fool who designed his own death.

    • Winsome profile image

      Winsome 7 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

      Hey AJ, very cool article. Did you know that prior to 1976 the meaning of geek was only a carnival type person who bit the heads off of live chickens, bats etc. I guess Ozzy Osborne would have been the most famous of the "pre-geeks," but he definitely does not qualify for the real geek because his whole legend started when he bit what he thought was a rubber bat and had to take rabies shots for a week. =:)

    • lemarquis72 profile image

      lemarquis72 8 years ago

      Geeks fight back - what an original and interesting theme! I must disagree with your assesment of Napoleon though. He was highly intelligent and a brilliant state administrator as well. Cheers!

    • Bryan Robertson profile image

      Bryan Robertson 8 years ago from Tennessee, United States

      Enjoyed your hub! I knew of several of these names but not in the context of your hub. The last guy on your list (with the appropriate last name of "Tyson") might have gone into astronomy because he was always "seeing stars" when taking a punch. Sorry - couldn't resist.

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 8 years ago from Chicago

      A very nice presentation. Your Hub is informative and entertaining. I enjoyed it. Thumbs Up!