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The Samurai Swordsman: Master of War [Hardcover]

Stephen Turnbull
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
RRP: £30.00
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Book Description

20 Feb 2008
Samurai tells the story of the courageous and highly disciplined fighting men of this time, showing how they evolved from the primitive fighters of the seventh century into an invincible military caste with a fearsome reputation. In the early seventh century, the samurai rose to prominence during the struggles between the emperor and the military leaders (shogun). They took part in the invasion of Korea, as well as helping to keep Japan free from foreign influence. From the Heian period through to the Onin wars, the history of the samurai is replete with tales of heroism and bloodshed. Although the samurai is most famous for his use of the sword, he also used a wide variety of other weapons, such as the crossbow, the dagger and the spear. Samurai armour and costume were constantly evolving, and by the twelfth century most samurai were wearing the box-like yoroi armour. Samurai examines samurai fighting tactics, as well as acts such as ritual suicide (hari-kiri) and the taking of enemy heads as trophies.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Frontline Books (20 Feb 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844157121
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844157129
  • Product Dimensions: 24.1 x 31.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 978,935 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Good! 27 Jun 2013
By Janet
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Bought this book for my husband. He's very interested in Samurai swords and culture. He says the book is very good.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yes, it really is that good 24 April 2008
By Frederick N. Bosworth - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I have read most of the way through, and am *very* happy with this book. The text is engaging and full of interesting facts and anecdotes, the abundant illustrations make for an excellent collection of Japanese art, and the author's command of the subject matter is apparent. This is one I will read through several times.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An examination of the true Samurai 6 Jun 2008
By Midwest Book Review - Published on
The Samurai - in modern society, it's a shallow shell of what it formerly was - exaggeratedly awesome warriors capable of sundering tanks in two with there swords. But who were the real Samurai? "The Samurai Swordsman: Master of War" is an examination of the true Samurai, who dominated Japan during its feudal era, much like Knights once dominated Europe. Going deep into the nature of Samurai as complex individuals and not just swords with legs, it looks at everything - the Samurai statesman, the Samurai artist, and more. Enhanced with full color paintings throughout, "The Samurai Swordsman: Master of War" is highly recommended for community library history and art collections and for anyone who has always had a fascination with this warrior caste.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another good delivery! 2 Jan 2011
By Kevin Geaslin - Published on
So this is probably my ten thousandth book by Stephen Turnbull, and while he rehashes some of his old material and pictures (it's pretty hard NOT to, after all the books he's published!), I was pleasantly surprised. It's not so much a history of the Samurai/Bushi class, but, as the title suggests, a brief and general history of swordsmanship, and the most famous warriors and duels. Of course, there is the obligatory mention of staples such as Musashi and Bokuden, but the final chapters also provide a wealth of information about the "streetfighters" of the later Edo period and the Meiji Restoration, the Shinsengumi, Sakamoto Ryoma and the origins of the Satsuma Rebellion. I'd say it's an improvement over his old "The Lone Samurai" book, which was pretty similar. If you're a student of kendo, kenjutsu, kobudo, or just martial arts in general, you'll benefit from the wealth of history this book provides.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars MOUNTED WARRIOR ARCHERS 13 Sep 2010
By Kay's Husband - Published on
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.

Semper Fi.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SMURAI SWORDSMAN, Turnbull at his finest. 13 Mar 2014
By Kim Woolaway - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Turnbull has researched the chronology in depth and the story line captures the imagination. Beautiful color plates and clear mental pictures are all part of the experience gleaned from these extremely well penned pages. Great stuff . . .
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