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The 47 Ronin Story Paperback – 13 Sep 2006

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Paperback, 13 Sep 2006
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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Tuttle Publishing; Revised edition (13 Sept. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0804838275
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804838276
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.5 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,077,921 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Book Description

Now a major motion picture.

47 Ronin is the unforgettable tale of a band of samurai who defied the Emperor to avenge the disgrace and death of their master, and faced certain death as a result. This set off a chain of events that led to one of the bloodiest episodes in Japanese history. In the process, it also created a new set of heroes in Japan.

In 1701, young Lord Asano is goaded into attacking a corrupt official at the Japanese Court. Although the wound Asano inflicts is minimal, the Emperor's punishment is harsh—Lord Asano is ordered to commit seppuku, or ritual suicide. His lands are confiscated and his family is dishonored and exiled. His samurai now become ronin, or masterless, and are dispersed.

The Ronin were not trusted by their enemies, and lived under the watchful eyes of spies for months. They appeared to adapt to their new circumstances by becoming tradesmen and teachers. But the Ronin only appeared to accept their fate. They were in fact making careful plans for revenge, biding their time until the moment to strike was right. Their deeds became Japan's most celebrated example of bravery, cunning, and loyalty in an age when samurai were heroes, and honor was worth dying for.

John Allyn does a masterful job of presenting 47 Ronin as a compelling and suspenseful tale—one that will appeal to fans of the December 2013 film starring Keanu Reeves. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

John Allyn Jr. attended the Army Specialized Training Program at Stanford University in 1944, majoring in the Japanese language, and also attended the Army intensive Japanese Language School at the University of Michigan in 1945. During the first four years of the U.S. occupation of Japan, he worked as Pictorial Censor of the Civil Censorship Detachment of G2, SCAP, in Osaka and Tokyo. After his return to the United States he entered UCLA where he received his master's degree in Theater Arts in 1951.

Stephen Turnbull is the author of over 50 books on the military history of Europe and the Far East. He works as a Japanese cultural consultant and is Lecturer in Japanese religion at the Department of East Asian Studies at Leeds University. He served as the historical advisor for the Universal Pictures film 47 ronin, starring Keanu reeves. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Kurt A. Johnson on 12 Aug. 2004
Format: Paperback
This wonderful book is a bit of historical fiction that is based on one of the most famous examples of samurai honor and bravery. In 1702, Naganori Asano-Takuminokami was on a ceremonial visit to Shogun Tsunayoshi, but when he was insulted by a greedy and conceited courtier, Lord Asano struck him with his sword, violating the law, and resulting in his own order to commit ceremonial suicide. With the Asano estates forfeit to the Shogunate, all of his samurai were made masterless samurai or ronin.
Determined to regain their honor through killing the courtier for his role in their master's death, 47 of the ronin bided their time, and struck back at their hated enemy. Though the Shogun was impressed by their devotion to Bushido, as indeed was the entire nation, he had no choice by to give them the most lenient sentence that he could, by allowing them to commit ceremonial suicide. And with that, the 47 ronin passed from this life into legend.
This is a very moving book, and is much better than I had expected. The author does an excellent job of painting Japan as it then existed, and really brings the characters to life. I really enjoyed this great book, this stirring tale of honor, and highly recommend it to you.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 9 April 2001
Format: Paperback
I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book . The story as you would guess revolves around the revenge taken by the 47 Ronin of the Asano clan. The book in a whisper is about Lord Asano who is sentanced to death for striking a man who provoked him. As a result of this, his followers are stripped of everything that they own. Later the ronins find out that the man who provoked their Lord is still alive and they seek revenge. The story takes a while to get to the actual revenge, due to that it took them two years to avenge. The facts in the book are very realistic to the real events at the time.
Overall the story is very well written and is suitable for most ages. The book may not be the longest but at 240 pages long, it is still a noble read.
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Format: Paperback
John Allyn's retelling of the 47 Ronin story is, sadly, a missed opportunity. The building blocks are all here - ready and poised for the epic treatment this story deserves - but unfortunately John Allyn was not the man to make it happen this time around.

The respectable Japaneses historian Stephen Turnbull is quoted on the front cover, hailing it a "masterful retelling" of the classic samurai tale, but unfortunately Stephen has a vested interest in providing a short essay at the start of the book, which he no doubt got paid for. Speaking of which, if you are going to read the novel regardless and have no foreknowledge of the plot then I highly recommend you skip the introductory sections until after you've finished reading the main story, otherwise crucial plot revelations and historical inaccuracies will spoil things for you.

The tale is told far too briskly for my personal tastes, and is woefully lacking in vivid descriptions of key events (including the all-important beginning AND finale). In addition, the majority of characters could benefit from from having greater depth to make the story as immersive as it has the right to be. It's not that everything badly written - far from it as there's some strong material in here - but it all just feels a bit too rushed.

So who might like this novel, then? Well, if this is your first foray into the realm of samurai literature and you haven't read James Clavell's 'Shogun' yet then this might be an okay place to start. Otherwise, I could only imagine adolescents being swept off their feet by the whistle-stop narrative.

Eiji Yoshikawa's samurai masterpieces 'Musashi' and 'Taiko' set the bar incredibly high, and unfortunately '47 Ronin' by John Allyn pales in comparison.
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Format: Paperback
The legend of the 47 Ronin was meant to be a true story in Japanese history. The basic story was that Kira, a courtier of the Tokugawa Shogun, goaded a `daimyo' Lord Asano, into attacking him. Kira was injured but not killed. The Shogun ordered Lord Asano to commit seppuku (Japanese suicide by disembowelment). Asano's chief retainer, Oishi, rallied the samurais under Lord Asano and plotted revenge for the unjust death of their lord. As in all legendary tales, the details become subject to embellishment and variation. The 2013 film release of the film by the same name might be captivating as a film but deviated from the Allyn book, which is the most recent English language edition of this tale.

Unlike the film, there are no witches and no romance involving the daughter of Lord Asano. There is also no character in the book representing the film hero `Kai', played by Keanu Reeves. The book is exciting and is difficult to put down once it is begun. The plot revolves around the way Oishi (the main figure in the book) organizes his samurai and the preparation over the 12 months after Lord Asano's death, to kill Kira and thus avenge his death. Every page is worth reading and one can learn about the Japanese notions of nobility of character, the wisdom of patience, and the virtues of steadfastness from the Allyn version of the legend. Allyn's fascinating account should not be diminished by a review giving too much away; but the reader should expect lots of encounters with spies and the clashing between youthful exuberance and aged wisdom. He should also not expect it to be anything like the film version.
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