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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For Academic Study you can't beat this book., 1 Mar 2004
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Mr. Ed "edsheadsaid" (Japan) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
Stephen Turnbull has once again compiled an excellent resource for another facet of Japanese Martial arts history - this time the Ninja.
This is not a Ninja training guide, it has very few pictures of modern day Ninjas, shuirken or other Ninja accessories.
This book has been extensively researched and gives the clearest view of the 'real' secretive organisation/clan/class/. Because of the great secrecy involved with the Ninja there are plenty of misconceptions about their physical and mental abilities. This book does not deal with the fictional aspects (apart from saying that they are indeed fictional). Instead Mr Turnbull talks about the history and circumstances of the Ninja including some wonderfull ancient Japanese art depicting them in action.
There really is no better history of the Ninja around, this is a truly fantastic book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History fans will be pleased, modern ninja fans will not....., 18 Sep 2013
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This review is from: Ninja: The True Story of Japan's Secret Warrior Cult (Hardcover)
I bought this book some time ago, and having re-read again just recently I felt the urge to say a few words. In this work, Dr Turnbull relies on as much Japanese source material as he can lay his hands on. As a result out goes the Hollywood fantasy and in comes a serious study of the ninja/shinobi. Rather the idea of ninja clans where everyone wears a lot of black, we have evidence to suggest that the ninja were a kind of "black ops", or special forces, samurai and given to dressing up as the enemy to carry out their work. The attitude towards the ninja by contemporary samurai is also surprising, serious respect is given to the "men of Iga" and their specialist skills. This respect also came from the very top of the samurai hierarchy. The section on the Iga "ninja" revolt is fascinating, apparently the first such account in English from the Japanese chronicles of this event.
At every point Dr Turnbull gives us his evidence on an "as is" basis, he simply tells us what the chronicles and sources say. This is refreshingly honest, a lot of books on ninja are given to hammering home the secret cult, magical and esoteric aspects of these ninja clans, together with the tall stories, without bothering to reference any sources, a fact pointed out more than once in this particular book. In summary this is a well written, informative and entertaining read on the history of the ninja and also debunks a lot of the myths that Hollywood latched upon as the ninja were transformed from ordinary but talented warriors into quasi-magical supermen.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic insight into history, 3 Mar 2003
By A Customer
Stephen Turnbull has written a wonderful book on the history of the ninja in Japan. Full of well researched information on the period in which the ninja lived and operated, it covers the political, mystical and physical realms. This book is a must for those who want to know more about the factual ninja rather than the fictional. Interesting information for any practitioner.
Hatsumi Soke's recommendation was well earned.
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Ninja: The True Story of Japan's Secret Warrior Cult
Ninja: The True Story of Japan's Secret Warrior Cult by S.R. Turnbull (Hardcover - Feb 1991)
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