Weird History The Bizarre Hobbies Of History's Most Brutal Leaders  

Harrison Tenpas
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History is littered with a lot of brutal dictators. There are plenty of tyrannical psychopaths who have oppressed, starved, exploited, tortured, and killed millions throughout the world. These despots assume - not undeservedly - an almost cartoonish level of villainy in the global record, but did you know that some of them really liked cartoons? Like, as adults, which is weird, but also obsessively, which is really weird?

It's difficult to humanize figures who are so inhuman, and the weird hobbies held by the brutal dictators on this list don't really do that - if anything, they make them even more alien and bizarre. Take a look at what some of the cruelest people in history got up to when they were off the clock - and you can even pretend to be shocked when you see that their pastimes were often sexual.


Saddam Hussein is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Bizarre Hobbies Of History's Most Brutal Leaders
Photo:  qx8_i/via Twitter

Former President of Iraq Saddam Hussein was a cold-hearted leader who ruled with an iron fist. The true extent of his atrocities is unknown, as murders carried out at his behest are innumerable, but there is evidence of over 250 mass graves from his reign. In other words, prior to his hanging in 2003, Saddam was not a very chill guy. 

He was, however, very horny. 

Saddam had a penchant for writing romance novels. Writing under the heavily-encrypted pen name of "S. Hussein," Saddam published a book called Zabibah and the Kingwhich was a ham-fisted and very erotic autobiographical novel set in ancient Iraq. The discovery of this sappy, sexually-charged tome was also pretty random: CIA officials stumbled across it by chance in an Arabic book store in London in 2001.

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Osama bin Laden is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Bizarre Hobbies Of History's Most Brutal Leaders
Photo: Hamid Mir/via Wikimedia Commons

Architect of the 9/11 attacks, the worst instance of terrorism ever on American soil, Osama bin Laden knew how to let his hair down and blow off some steam after a long day at Al-Qaeda HQ. 

But when the 5 o'clock whistle blew, bin Laden didn't dash to the nearest happy hour for wings and tall boys - he hit the sand for an intense match of beach volleyball.

The 6'4" bin Laden was a force on the court, according to his associate Mohammed Atef. Atef, the former chief of Al-Qaeda, also enjoyed the game, but the two never played on the same team, citing the fact that they were so good it was an unfair advantage over other players.

Also Ranked

#68 on The Most Influential People of the Cold War

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Joseph Stalin is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Bizarre Hobbies Of History's Most Brutal Leaders
Photo: Freebase/Public domain

Depending on one's political leanings, Joseph Stalin's legacy is a bit subjective. During his reign (1929-1953), the Soviet Union went from a poor, peasant society to an industrial and military superpower, but this also caused the worst man-made famine in history and millions of his people died. 

Regardless, this legendary figure of collectivism loved nudes. Males nudes, specifically

Stalin did not, however, draw the nudes himself. He collected sketches of muscular male specimens from various Russian artists and, bizarrely, he merely annotated them. Stalin would draw on the subject's genitals or torsos and write out short messages below them. His scrawls ranged from the humorous ("You need to work, not wank. Time for re-education") to the maudlin, sometimes addressed to his fallen comrades: "Radek, you ginger bastard, if you hadn't pissed into the wind, if you hadn't been so bad, you'd still be alive."

Also Ranked

#77 on The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History

#63 on The Most Influential People of All Time

#44 on The Most Important Leaders in World History

#4 on The Most Influential People of the Cold War

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Kim Jong-il is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Bizarre Hobbies Of History's Most Brutal Leaders
Photo:  Great Brightstar/Wiki Commons

Legendary golfer and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il was something of a human rights violation virtuoso. The ham-shaped leader oversaw plenty of atrocities in his time at the helm in Pyongyang, including ethnic cleansing and mass starvation.

But he also adored basketball. His favorite player, naturally, was Michael Jordan, who appeared in the Warner Brothers film Space Jam, which featured several cartoons he also obsessed over like a very normal person. Kim Jong-il was in fact such a fan of His Royal Airness that he had VHS recordings of every one of Jordan's games. The Great Leader, sadly, never got to meet his hero, but his son sort of came close with Dennis Rodman's famed trip to North Korea.

Also Ranked

#55 on The Most Influential People of the Cold War

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