on 21 November 2003
The book is about the dramatic events of July 1853 where steam-driven US Navy warships loomed shockingly out of the haze cloaking Tokyo Bay. The warships sparked off rumours amongst the hysterical civilian population that foreign monsters had arrived on smoking volcanoes. The book describes the adventures of an American officer as he secretly swims to shore, inspired by the haunting moonlit beacon of Mount Fiji. The characters, although mainly fictitious, are intriguingly complicated but still they give a good idea of what Japanese society was like in the nineteenth century. The book explains where the mistrust between the USA and Japan, which sparked cataclysms like Pearl Harbour, Nagasaki and Hiroshima, originated. It is a gripping book which illuminates a little-known historical episode which helped shape the modern world.
on 5 April 2000
The book has two main themes, the personal conflict within Eden, the main character, and the negotiations between the modern US fleet and the feudal Japanese society. It shows the Americans in an unfavorable light in as much as they are determined to meet their own ends, without ever considering, or caring about the Japanese. The only exception is Eden, who's conscience is awakened by his partial red indian blood. In summary, it's easily readable, but if you've already experienced Clavell's Shogun, don't expect it to meet these standards of detail and understanding.