Is This the Most Interesting Opening Paragraph Wikipedia’s Ever Published?

Most Interesting Man in the World, meet your match. On Sunday, Twitter user Matthew Barrett created something of a sensation by linking to the obscure Wikipedia biography of the British army officer Sir Adrian Carton de Wiart. His tweet — "This guy surely has the best opening paragraph of any Wikipedia biography ever" — has ...

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

Most Interesting Man in the World, meet your match.

On Sunday, Twitter user Matthew Barrett created something of a sensation by linking to the obscure Wikipedia biography of the British army officer Sir Adrian Carton de Wiart. His tweet -- "This guy surely has the best opening paragraph of any Wikipedia biography ever" -- has been retweeted more than 3,200 times over the past several days.

 

Most Interesting Man in the World, meet your match.

On Sunday, Twitter user Matthew Barrett created something of a sensation by linking to the obscure Wikipedia biography of the British army officer Sir Adrian Carton de Wiart. His tweet — "This guy surely has the best opening paragraph of any Wikipedia biography ever" — has been retweeted more than 3,200 times over the past several days.

 

 

So just how mind-blowing is the introduction on Carton de Wiart’s page? Judge for yourself:

Lieutenant-General Sir Adrian Paul Ghislain Carton de Wiart[1] VC, KBE, CB, CMG, DSO (5 May 1880 – 5 June 1963), was a British Army officer of Belgian and Irish descent. He fought in the Boer War, World War I, and World War II, was shot in the face, head, stomach, ankle, leg, hip and ear, survived a plane crash, tunneled out of a POW camp, and bit off his own fingers when a doctor wouldn’t amputate them. He later said "frankly I had enjoyed the war." [2]

On Twitter, some are simply in awe, while others are pointing out that the rest of the bio is pretty stellar too:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So who was this man of extraordinary valor? A Daily Mail profile last year relays much of the same information contained on Carton de Wiart’s Wikipedia page: By the end of his life, the British soldier had been awarded his military’s highest honor for bravery during World War I and served in the Second Boer War and World War II, commanding troops in a daring World War II raid in Norway. He wore a black patch to cover a missing eye, and had been wounded in the skull, groin, ankle, and stomach. A missing hand betrayed a grisly backstory — he had once chewed off his own wounded fingers. He had tunneled out of an Italian prisoner-of-war camp, and had wound up there after crashing his plane in the Mediterranean. To top it all off, he had also served as Winston Churchill’s special representative to China’s Chiang Kai-shek. He had indeed remarked that he "enjoyed" World War I, going on to add that "it had given me many bad moments, lots of good ones, plenty of excitement and with everything found for us." (Readers in the U.K., you may want to go check out Carton de Wiart’s 20-bore, double-barreled shotgun, which just went on display in Leeds.)

Judging by his autobiography, Carton de Wiart adopted his swashbuckling ways from an early age, when he left university at Oxford to fight in the Boer War

At that moment I knew, once and for all, that war was in my blood. I was determined to fight and I didn’t mind who or what. I didn’t know why the war had started, and I didn’t care on which side I was to fight. If the British didn’t fancy me I would offer myself to the Boers, and at least I did not endow myself with Napoleonic powers or imagine I would make the slightest difference to whichever side I fought for.

I know now that the ideal soldier is the man who fights for his country because it is fighting, and for no other reason. Causes, politics and ideologies are better left to the historians.

Readers, if you have a suggestion for a Wikipedia page that rivals this one, leave it in the comments.

Twitter: @EliasGroll

More from Foreign Policy

Demonstrators and activists attend a vigil in support of Ukraine near European Union headquarters in Brussels on March 22.
Demonstrators and activists attend a vigil in support of Ukraine near European Union headquarters in Brussels on March 22.

How the Russian Oil Price Cap Will Work

Ignore the naysayers—the long-prepared plan is a smart way to slash the Kremlin’s profits.

Ukrainian soldiers ride a tank on a road in the Donetsk region on July 20, 2022, near the front line between Russian and Ukrainian forces.
Ukrainian soldiers ride a tank on a road in the Donetsk region on July 20, 2022, near the front line between Russian and Ukrainian forces.

‘They Are Pushing Everywhere’: Kyiv Goes on the Offensive

Ukraine may have achieved its biggest breakthrough of the war.

A Chinese Communist Party flag is seen next to a health worker wearing protective clothing as a worker registers for a COVID-19 test at a makeshift testing site in Beijing on April 28.
A Chinese Communist Party flag is seen next to a health worker wearing protective clothing as a worker registers for a COVID-19 test at a makeshift testing site in Beijing on April 28.

The Chinese Public Doesn’t Know What the Rules Are Anymore

Reckless policies have knocked out established norms.

An orchestra at the Bolshoi Theatre in Russia
An orchestra at the Bolshoi Theatre in Russia

The Last String of Russian Greatness Is About to Snap

A great classical music tradition might die because of the Ukraine invasion.