Having lived in Japan in the Yokohama area for a few years many years ago, I recall that Kamakura, ancient capital of Japan, was once the center of Japanese archery, with festivals yet held to this day. What does Japanese archery have to do with Samurai, you may ask? Well, in the beginning the first Samurai were not only aristocrats but they were skilled horseback archers. They only later developed into Samurai swordsmen as time progressed.
The word 'samurai' enters the Japanese language in the 8th century and continues to this day, however, at the beginning of the 20th century the samurai were disbanded by a government that had been ruled and protected by this very class of people. If one wishes to view the Samurai today, take a look at many of the businesses in Japan as they are owned by many families that comprised the Samurai class in medieval Japan, no longer carrying swords but briefcases. Some of the logos for the businesses of Japan are those that originally appeared on their Samurai battle flags.
This book when first issued was in the $50 range in price but over the years that price has come down. A bargain at any price, having many of Dr. Turnbull's books, I feel this is one of his better books for the beginner to read. There are 10 chapters in the book with either black and white or color photographs, paintings, illustrations, on almost every page. As stated, while I enjoy many of Dr. Turnbull's books, this over-sized book is very much a favorite with me.
The 10 chapters of the book are as follows:
Swords and Heroes
Swords in Service
Sword and Spear
Sword and Samurai
Sword and Sensei
Swords in Society
Sword of Vengeance
Swords and Sisters
Sword of Peace
Sword of Revolution
Not only men were Samurai swordsmen, at times proficient women Samurai were involved with the sword. The actual Samurai swordsmen and women may be identified with a past era and world, yet today their feats and activities capture our interest and attention.
For a well documented and illustrated volume on this past time in Japan there exist very few better books on the subject than THE SAMURAI SWORDSMAN by Stephen Turnbull. The book had been out of print for several years prior to Dr. Turnbull's reissing this volume. Some readers may recognize the book as a "revised version of an earlier book ... THE LONE SAMURAI AND THE MARTIAL ARTS." Well done in all respects.