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Shibumi [Kindle Edition]

4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Product Description


One hell of a pleasure to read. (The Washington Post)

Trevanian has both wit and intelligence... Something for everyone. (New York Times)

...Riveting... storytelling by a genuinely original author. (The Chicago Tribune)

Book Description

Nicholai Hel is the world's most wanted man.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 820 KB
  • Print Length: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Headline (12 May 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004VF62BQ
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #66,381 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic and camp 13 Jun 2011
By MisterHobgoblin TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Shibumi was a worldwide best seller in 1979. It is described as an airport blockbuster; it features a half German, half Russian assassin brought up to be half Chinese, half Japanese. And he has impeccable taste, is a world-beater at the Japanese game of Go, is fabulously wealthy, and has retired to a life amongst the Basque separatists. He is exotic in a very 1979 way. Add to this, the inner machinations of a sinister and controlling US Agency - the Mother Company - which controls the CIA, FBI and US legislature. All written by a mysterious man known only as Trevanian.

This all sounds terrible. It sounds like a bad advert for Milk Tray crossed with Hai Karate - directed by Tretchikoff.

Which is a pity, because Shibumi is an immaculate work, entertaining and socially interesting. It is also very long. Unlike Don Winslow's recently published prequel (Satori), this novel is not dialogue heavy. Its 500 pages are dense and slow moving. Most of the novel is spent setting up a backstory to a relatively short and straightforward denouement. The lengthy cave exploration scene with Le Cagot, for example, serves to set up useful background for a later short scene. In the true style of Shibumi, the effort is in the creation and the final perfection lasts just a short moment.

Buried within the narrative, there are long political discourses - often making sweeping generalizations about entire races, nations and automobile manufacturers. They might seem a little out of place in today's politically correct society but they are an amusing and authentic period of late 1970s thinking. They are used to counterpoint the perfection of Nicholai Hel and his close associated against the imperfections of the rest of the world.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The long and the short of it - a must-read 29 Dec 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I could write a long review of this novel, which I first read twenty years ago, but I won't.
It is, for me, one of the best thrillers ever written. Nikolai Hel, the protagonist, is utterly memorable and possibly as scary as Hannibal Lecter in his own way (though Shibumi is not a horror novel in the way Thomas Harris' is), but much more subtly.

This goes way beyond so-called airport fiction. It's literate, subtle, beautifully drawn and entirely compelling.

Read it.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Self-indulgent genre masterpiece 16 Jun 2011
When I first read Shibumi, which must be nearly 20 years ago, I adored it. It revealed the inner workings of the CIA and a mysterious 'Mother Company' of giant petrochemical companies which actually ran the world. It suggested all manner of complex interlinked relationships between the USA and the Arab world, and espionage plots designed to keep Israel in line and the oil flowing. It introduced high-tech computers which could analyse all kinds of data, and which frequently made all kinds of errors analysing data.
And Shibumi introduced the ultimate cold-hearted killer, a super-human, Oriental in outlook, Caucasian in appearance, blessed with super-senses and a massive intellect and near-transcendetal abilities to kill someone with a flick of the wrist. Shibumi had a huge impact when I first read it in my teens.

Re-reading Shibumi today, it feels like a highly complicated spoof, an intricate satire, a very witty joke at the expense of the reader. Shibumi sneers at many of the plot and character lines of most thrillers and espionage stories; it takes every cliche from the world of Ian Fleming or Jason Bourne and rips the mick out of them without mercy. The author's view of most world governments and most people of the world drips with venom and distaste. It can be horribly funny and horribly sad at the same time. (In a similar way, John D MacDonald normally goes off on one in most Travis Magee books, but then his outrage feels genuine and heartfelt. The lasting impression given by Shibumi is cynical bitterness).

I suspect that many people may pick up Shibumi because they've just read Don Winslow's Satori, which features the same central character during the early part of his life.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Shibumi - what a read 23 Jun 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Amazing well written and totally gripping. A fantastically engaging book which I couldn't put down.
Gave me a real insight into interesting aspects of Japanese culture and history as well.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Shibumi revisited 7 Jun 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I read this book many years ago, and the story was one that stayed with me as good books tend to do. The hero is an assassin who espouses all things Japanese from culture to mind set. This unlikely hero is one who finds honour can eventually be costly. I loved this book years ago, and it has improved with age. If you like your tales to be thrilling and include a conspiracy story as well, then this is the book for you. I found very difficult to put down, even though I already knew the end.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Meditative thriller 26 May 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The tragedy is that Trevanian only got to write one book about Nicholas Hel. This is a long, meditative work. It's disquisitions on '70s politics and economics can seem dated but, if anything, have acquired enhanced relevance in the last few years with their concern for the environment, the dominance of energy companies and the weakness of Western governments. For a thriller the key points at which Hel uses his exceptional assassin's skills are dealt with almost cursorily. Far more extended are the sections on caving, "Go", and the nature of Basque culture. This won't be to everyone's taste but I found it beautifully crafted, more serious than the "Sanction" books yet still with a playful tone, especially when castigating Trevanian's own native USA as well as the British, French and Spanish.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Trevanian's best
Shibumi is the best of Trevanian, incorporating his acerbic humour, deep dislike of the "ugly American," admiration of ancient culture and those who value it. Read more
Published 3 months ago by MF
5.0 out of 5 stars (Woof woof)x2 my highest rating in case you have trouble with my...
I first read this book back thirty or thirty five years ago before computers. I had a real book! The story stuck with me all this time so, when I saw it, I could not help but buy... Read more
Published 6 months ago by S. Pentney
5.0 out of 5 stars Craft
A great read, written with craft and setting a pace that draws you in. I have returned to thus book after a number of years and still it dies not disappoint.
Published 8 months ago by Mr S Mackie
3.0 out of 5 stars a holiday read
Not great. Not bad. Less entertaining than I thought it would be. All the mountaineering stuff was a long boring interlude.
Published 11 months ago by bigror
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written.
A story of revenge, assassination, espionage and grace all wrapped up in a fantastic story. To appreciate this book more you must read "Satori" by Don Winslow as it is a... Read more
Published 12 months ago by kaldirk
3.0 out of 5 stars Average
Interesting read, but felt incredibly contrived in parts. Perhaps I missed something but it also seemed to take itself too seriously for the content. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Mark Wilson
1.0 out of 5 stars Tedious writing
I only gave this one star because as I was reading it I just wanted it to end. Having heard great things about this book (and the author) I though it might be the sort of book I... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Mr. S. J. Knowles
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended
What is it about Trevanian - all of his books are spell binding. The pox on Amazon's requirement for a reviewer to have X amount of words before submitting!
Published 17 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Super read
Was recommended to me as the best book ever and it came up to expectations, a very intelligent book. I would even read it twice.
Published 17 months ago by Sheelagh
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Popular Highlights

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Shibumi is understanding, rather than knowledge. &quote;
Highlighted by 11 Kindle users
Do not fall into the error of the artisan who boasts of twenty years experience in his craft while in fact he has had only one year of experience – twenty times. &quote;
Highlighted by 11 Kindle users
‘Meaning, rather, that one must pass through knowledge and arrive at simplicity.’ &quote;
Highlighted by 8 Kindle users

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