May 25



NOTE: This is the first article about this projekt, and you may have noticed that the name has changed slightly—by one letter, to be exact. HISTORY CARDS has become HISTORY KARDS. You can read about that change over here, if you care to. But before doing that, please read this article, as it goes into detail about the projekt. Be advised that in the interests of time, I haven't gone through the following and corrected the spelling. 

I'm thrilled to announce the rollout of my new brainchild—HISTORY CARDS—and the first product in what I hope will ultimately be a whole line of products covering many eras of history: THE 50 GREATEST VILLAINS OF ALL TIME. To launch this thing, I chose to go after a kinda "no brainer." Well, it's either that or a really stupid idea, in which case it's a "no brainer" of an entirely different sort.

Time, and the response of people like you, dear reader, will tell.

Each of the suited cards (52 in all) depicts and describes a different villain from history. And unless you're a real, hard-core history dork, I can guarantee you've never heard of most of 'em! I consider myself a history quasi-dork, and believe me when I tell you, once you get out of the top ranks where the real "all stars" of mayhem and murder reside, it's an appallingly little-known rogues gallery you'll find.

It seems that in the modern age, unless you've either A) killed many millions, or B) killed a lot of people in particularly gruesome ways, or C) both, you're just another nameless, faceless mass murderer. Ho hum. You've gotta be super-duper-uber ambitious to make the top rank and become a household name. 

Speaking for myself, who wants to work that hard? 

But hey... to each his own. And I do mean "his," since our motley crew here is composed almost entirely of men.



As you can probably tell from what I'm showing thus-far, I started with the "all stars" of wanton destruction and disaster, but it wasn't long before I was running across quite a few horrible human beings I'd never heard of before.

What this says about A) my own ignorance, B) our collective ignorance of some of the worst crimes ever committed against humanity, and those committing them, and C) just how many monsters we've produced down through the centuries, I leave to greater minds than my own to make sense of.

What's very clear to me, though, is that we have produced a lot of monsters down through the ages. I mean, an extraordinary number. Truly, a frightening number! 🙁


My methodology in picking the subjects of the cards was fairly straight forward in many cases, but not so much in all. I'll get into how I determined which famous and quite often not-so-famous blackguards made the Top 50 list at a future point. Suffice it to say—as I mentioned above—once you do get past the infamous "big" names (Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao Zedung, etc.), it gets a lot harder to pick 'em and rank 'em.


The difficulty of measuring monstrousness also increases because I came up a unique and telling rating which nobody else (I'm aware of) has looked at before. Perhaps this is my contribution to history writ large? I dunno, but it occurred to me, as I was looking at the numbers for our world collection of human monsters, that every bit as important as total numbers of death caused, was the rate at which these deaths occurred.

As a result, you'll notice that that History Cards have both a DToll, for Death Toll, and a DRate, for Death Rate. I would argue that the Death Rate is every bit as important, if not more so, than the Death Toll. For instance, in sheer numbers of deaths, Stalin outstrips Hitler. And there's no doubt Uncle Joe was a right perfect bastard in his own right. He was arguably a more brutal tyrant than Hitler, too. After all, the Fuhrer never purged, and purged again, and again, the ranks of his own military and government, sending millions to work to death and die in ice-bound gulags—the Russian version of concentration camps).

But this aside, Hitler far surpasses even Stalin for rate of death. In other words, Hitler may have killed fewer people than his arch-rival Stalin, but Hitler killed half again as many people per year, and by that metric, there is no greater villain in all of recorded human history.

Most historians, history buffs and history dorks will tell you that despite the hype about how bad Hitler was (and there is no doubt about it at all), Stalin and Mao Zedung killed a lot more people, particularly of their own people.

There's also the issue of secondary causation, or what many today would understand as "collateral damage." That is, you don't have to personally kill people, or intend to kill them, to be responsible for their deaths. We quantify this in our law. An arsonist may not mean to kill anyone when he lights a fire, but if the fire he sets does kill someone, the arsonist is charged for it.

Similarly, Hitler didn't set out to kill everyone that died in WWII in Eurasia, just as Emperor Hirohito didn't set out to kill everyone Japanese troops killed all over SouthEast Asia and in the Pacific, but each is responsible for every single death which happened as a result of their policies and actions, at least in part. Which puts both "gentlemen" in the discussion for the title of worst mass murderer of all time!

Some would argue it's a stretch to take the "blame game" so far. I mean, if you're going to go down that road, where does it end? Is Hitler responsible for the crimes of neo-Nazis today? Is he responsible for the deaths of Palestinians at the hands of Israeli snipers, since Israel itself would not exist except for Nazi Germany?

In all fairness, I think you make an argument either way. But engaging in such an endeavor is probably a fool's errand, because when and how and at what point do you stop? At what point is a bad guy, far removed, no longer responsible at all for the further crimes and injustices that ripple throughout space and time—sometimes for years or even decades afterwards?

I think this is why most historians and other experts have limited their calculus to immediate and direct deaths caused by the individual in question, or by his direct policies and the actions of his subordinates (after all, Hitler didn't kill millions of Jews himself, but the policies he approved of and the men he supervised did).

To the extent I could, factoring in all the information available to me, that is the route I chose, too. It's also why I ask for and encourage participation from others in the project. No man can be an expert on all things, and I'm sure there are experts out there who know far more than I will ever want to know about these and related subjects. There are times I have to make judgment calls, and the Gods know I am as fallible—if not more so—as any other "expert."

How do you easily differentiate the status of one monstrous mass murderer from another, not least of which because, in many cases, the numbers are all over the place? Did Mr. X kill 2 million people or "only' 200,000? My starting place was the long list of mass murders at Wikipedia. But it was only a starting place.

Quite often, one historian or "expert" says one thing, the next something else, a third is absolutely sure of yet a different value, and much of the time these estimates (or worse yet, guesstimates) don't line up well at all. Which leaves a poor consumer of such information (namely moi) in a difficult situation.

Alas, decisions have to be made. Right or wrong, it comes down to me. Was Mao Zedung better or worse than Chiang Kai-shek? Was Hitler better or worse than Stalin? What about Pol Pot and Saddam Hussein? Some of these are "no-brainers," but some of these are hard calls. Perhaps if YOU get involved, you can help me with some of these monumentally important decisions.


So what are damn HISTORY CARDS, anyway? Well, in short, they are actual playing cards, usable with any card game. But they are also new, unique and exciting! Shockingly, they may even teach you something you didn't know! In fact, this was one of realizations I had following the inspiration blast which came, as they usually do, in the dead of night.

Which is actually mid-morning for most, but let's not get too persnickety. 😉

Everybody plays card games, but from how many card games does anyone learn something you can discuss at a cocktail party? Basically... Uh... Er... Nada! Right?


I instantly knew that HISTORY CARDS were going to be a lot of work. I mean, a lot! But I also knew that the first deck of cards could be revolutionary in their own way, and lead to something much bigger. Not just for me personally, but for posterity.

Inspiration is no substitute for perspiration. Thousands of "brilliant ideas" never get done, or get done by someone else, because the first guy who thought of it didn't do anything with it. For all I know, I'm not the first to come up with this idea. HISTORY CARDS have probably been conceived of in the mind of man (or woman) before. But so far as I know, I'm the first to act on it.

And yeah, I dream big. Nothing wrong with that, right? Dreams were made to be made come true, and as somebody who's not afraid of a "little" hard work (I have been correctly identified by loved ones and strangers alike as a workaholic), all that was left to commit.

I'm committed!

Though some would say I should be committed. Of course, they've been saying that my whole life, and thus far, I've avoided the men in lab coats and rubber rooms.


It occurred to me that I could create a deck of cards which combined important historical info, cool art and some degree of entertainment value, all rolled into one. I immediately knew that educators were the perfect audience for these decks, and that history nerds were certain to love 'em. But it also seemed to me that the graphics and overall "zazz" would give HISTORY CARDS the kind of broad appeal which might actually make 'em popular with just about everyone.

Am i right? What do YOU think?

Frankly, I think HISTORY CARDS are so cool (forgive me my bias) that they'll serve the greater purpose of helping people learn history (at least some bits of it) while they enjoy a favorite pastime!

If my historic and historical playing cards generate real interest in the past in general, it won't be a bad thing at all. And since I'm one of those guys who thinks we continue to do stupid and asinine things as a people and a planet because we don't know enough history or ever learn from it, anything one can do to help elevate and educate the masses is more than just an option—it's a "must do."

So if HISTORY CARDS make an impact in this area, I will be thrilled. And a proud papa, too. 😀


The first thing that needs to happen is that the design of the entire card deck needs to be finalized. Currently, I've "finished" (for the moment and to my satisfaction, but subject to change of course) the Aces, Kings and Queens. That's a bit less than 1/4 of the deck, which leaves a considerable way to go. I'll get into how much time, effort and energy goes into the research, development and design of each card, but I don't mind telling you, it's considerable.

Creating on original card deck can be time-consuming and creatively draining if all you're doing is coming up with artwork alone. As you can see from the HISTORY CARDS I've completed to the moment, there is much more to it than "just" design. And being that I've been accused of being a hyper-perfectionist on design (many years spent working for hyper-anal clients will do that to you) , I think you can begin to get an inkling of how much work each card entails.

This is not a matter of "banging out" another 38 cards in rapid succession!

In some ways, I wish it was! 😮


I have a road map for the remaining cards, but this is subject to change—in part because I expect there may be feedback from the public. This means YOU.

Please comment below if you have thoughts, suggestions or constructive criticism. NOTE: All flames will be cheerfully ignored and will not be published, so if your aim is to be a jerk, save yourself the trouble and go be a jerk elsewhere. Thanks.


Further, I'm hoping to develop a following for HISTORY CARDS, which will help both with vetting the whole project and with the pieces which make it up (individual cards). My plan, such as it is right now, is to finish another batch of cards while building a following, with the intent of launching a crowdfunding campaign to A) finance completion of the design, and B) get the first deck into production.

Bear in mind that I've never done a crowdfund before, so I'm both excited to see where this leads, but more than open to suggestions. My ego may be appropriately big (some would say "YUGE!"), but it's not so big that I'm immune to constructive criticism or suggestion. To the contrary, I welcome your input, and more to the point, I would greatly appreciate and cherish your help.

Getting HISTORY CARDS successfully launched onto the market is my dream, of course, but I'm hoping enough kind, interested souls will come along with me to both provide a push and a level of support (psychological and financial) which the project does not have right now.


In this day and age, creating some buzz and excitement for the eventual crowdfund is critical, or it will all be for naught. No matter how great the idea, if I can't get more than a handful of other history dorks interested in it, spending many more weeks finishing a complete deck only to see it flop would be a complete waste of time, energy and effort.

So, in short, if you like what you see here and you want my HISTORY CARDS: THE 50 GREATEST VILLAINS OF ALL TIME to reach the market, then I strongly suggest that you pipe up, chime in, get involved and spread the word. If you really can support the project, in some material form, so much the better.

Prior to the launch of the crowdfund itself, I'm not opposed to nor am I too proud to accept contributions/donations. A man's gotta eat, and getting a project like this off the ground is damn close to all-consuming. Just ask the Wright Brothers (here's where I wish I had a brother) or Count Graf von Zeppelin.

So if you're of a mind to help right now, please do. I can guarantee that those who make significant contributions and/or chip in will get special treatment down the road. 😉


If you can and would (and want to help me generate that good ol buzz), take a few minutes to Like and Share this page and other HISTORY CARDS related content and posts. It is much appreciated!!! 😀 😀 😀 Visit my social media profiles, especially if you prefer those to a blog. If all goes well (and the tech don't screw me once again), all posts from here should be noticed there!

Check out my social media profiles. Facebook is the main hub for HISTORY CARDS, and it's where most of the ongoing action is happening (such as it is to this point). Please Like/Follow/Share!

Doing any or all of the above goes a long, long way towards seeing that this project does, in fact, get off the ground, take flight and eventually soar—rather than crash and burn like a poor man's Hindenburg.

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About the Author

Mann is a former Hollywood/Fortune 500 Wunderkind/Creative Director who was lucky enough to escape the ad biz with his integrity and sanity still intact. Well, mostly.

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