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Shibumi [Unknown Binding]

4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Unknown Binding
  • ASIN: B00005WU07
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 15.7 x 4.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 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
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spy Novel Without Equal 9 Nov 2009
Everyone who has ever had the ambition to write a spy novel may as well put their pen down right now! The ultimate spy novel has already been written and the title is Shibumi!
A simple plot allows us to meet a man of exceptional quality. Few fictional characters are as powerful and inspiring as Hel, as witnessed by the hordes who have tried to adopt his lifestyle and philosophy. Trevanian became better and better as time went by culminating in the achingly honest 'Crazyladies'. I urge you to read everything he has written( including his works under the name Nicholas Seare, which are hilarious )! Enjoy, and welcome to an alternative way of thinking!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This thriller jumps all over the map and moves in and out of a number of off-beat speciality areas (Eastern religion and Zen-like thought; caving; the Spanish Basque region; computers; the spy industry; World War II era history). Its tremendous appeal probably lies in the mystic aura surrounding the almost God-like protagonist, who just happens to be an assasin, but also in the cynical tone the author adopts as he views the world through his characters. The book features excitment, plot movement, sex, adventure and the clashing cultures of espionage and soft emotion. It's occasionally silly, but absolutely powerful. Who can forget the young woman who is punished for life because Nicholas makes love to her -- thereby dooming her to the futile attempt forever more to attempt to match the experience with ordinary lovers!? Bizarre -- but probably the world's finest airplane book. A must read.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
When you read the passage on the meaning of Shibumi - or balance - it will change your life just as it did with the remarkable characters in this book. It is so rare these days to have such creative and complex individuals described so well that you think you've known them all your life. The struggles, value of friendship, insights into life, culture, and business greed are all too real and compelling. The swings from the violence of early youth to the mature simplicity of later life are exceptionally captured by Trevanian's pen. Once a year you'll want to lock yourself up in a mountain cabin and read it from cover to cover.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I've been reading SHIBUMI for the past 15 years, and keep on coming back to it every few weeks. At first SHIBUMI seems like an ordinary thriller - a breathtaking and gripping one, but still not so very unique. After reading it over and over again, however, the emphasis changed, and concentration shifted to the beauty and wisdom of Far East Philosophy. Each and every time another hidden layer of truth is revealed; a new perception of emotions is discovered. This book has been my comfort in hard times, and the best friend in obscured days. There are only 3 words I can say about this book: R-E-A-D I-T N-O-W!!!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling 22 Oct 1998
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is a magnificent book which is probably not as widely known as it deserves to be. The characterisations are strong and realistic, the plot tight and gripping, and I will never look at Volvos the same way again. One of my all-time favourites!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A sublime and masterful work of art 12 Dec 1998
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This novel will appeal to many different people, on many different levels. It's a wonderful action/spy story; it's a thought-provoking mystical/philosphical tale; it's also a beautifully crafted piece of literature.
Each time I read this book I find something new. After my 4th or 5th time through it I *finally* noticed the pacing -- you will notice that the length of the chapters directly correspond to (1) how near the end it is, and (2) the tempo of the action. In other words... as the book goes on, the action gets quicker and the storyline more intense and this is emphasized by the shorter and shorter length of the chapters. A masterful technique.
This book has influenced my life and I often give it out as a present to special friends.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars I had to give up...
I tried , I really tried with this book but is was soooo
boring it was unbelievable. Everything is so convoluted
and drawn out you end up shouting at the page " oh do... Read more
Published on 7 Jun 2011 by martin77
3.0 out of 5 stars Witty, acerbic life story of an assassin. Feels dated now
When I first read Shibumi, which must be nearly 20 years ago at a guess, I adored it. It revealed the inner workings of the CIA and a mysterious 'Mother Company' of giant... Read more
Published on 26 Jan 2011 by Rowena Hoseason
4.0 out of 5 stars Yes!
Brilliant characterisation based on sound knowledge of the cultures within which the characters have been moulded together with disturbingly astute observations about the tyranny... Read more
Published on 23 Aug 2010 by S. Zacharias
1.0 out of 5 stars Oh dear...
I was given this book a while ago and I treasure it as the worst thing I have ever read, including those parts of Jeffrey Archer's oeuvre that I have inflicted on my leisure time. Read more
Published on 25 Feb 2005 by Doktor Futtocks
2.0 out of 5 stars NOT a spy novel. Disappointing to the end.
I originally bought this book under the pretext of it being a page-turing spy novel... not unlike the Bourne books by Ludlum, however I was severely let down. Read more
Published on 10 Dec 2004 by Mr. J. M. Hunter
1.0 out of 5 stars Great story - but.....
I recently re-read this book after a period of about 20 years.
The story line was just as good as I remembered, but I was startled by the way the pages seemed to be littered... Read more
Published on 1 Aug 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars The concept of Shibumi is simply profound
I can safely say no book since reading R.L. Wing's translation of Tao Te Ching has had a more profound impact on my life. Read more
Published on 24 Aug 2001 by "solid_tech"
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly powerful book
An excellent book to be enjoyed by all ages. I am sure that if u enjoy a good thriller this book will be entirely satisfying. Read more
Published on 18 Aug 2001
2.0 out of 5 stars Dissapointing
This book starts so marvellously going over the life of the hero,Nicolai Hel,and seems to set up the book well with some great character interaction. Read more
Published on 2 Jun 2001 by officerobo@netscapeonline.co.uk
5.0 out of 5 stars Cultured - innovative - spectacular.
Enough has already been said in the previous reviews on the merits of this book. To clear up a few points re. Read more
Published on 26 Mar 2000
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