A lot of people out there might be thinking this all business of honor seems overly complicated, and ultimately, pointless. But it's not all bad. The threat of being "called out" keeps people on their best behavior. There are less jerks, because they get killed. And it must have felt nice to have the power to seek justice in your own hands. Through dueling, people were able to resolve their own differences.

In the early days, most duels were done with swords, but that required actual skill. With pistols, anybody could do it, and the outcome was practically random, and thus more fair. Like a tandem game of Russian Roulette.

Actually, not everybody could duel. A gentleman was only obliged to accept a challenge from another gentleman. A duel between poor people was called "murder."

Question for discussion:

If you could challenge anyone in history to a duel, who would it be? (They can be dead or alive, or children. Use your imagination!)

(Nick Jones is the author of THE COWARD.)