- Paperback: 384 pages
- Publisher: Robinson (25 Mar. 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1845299477
- ISBN-13: 978-1845299477
- Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 2.7 x 20 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 27,377 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
A Brief History of the Samurai (Brief Histories) Paperback – 25 Mar 2010
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A superb insight into the history of the Samurai
About the Author
Jonathan Clements is the author of many books on East Asian history, including biographies of Empress Wu, Admiral Togo, the statesman Prince Saionji and Coxinga, the Japanese-born 'pirate king'. He divides his time between London, England and Jyväskylä, Finland, and his website is www.muramasaindustries.com.
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Top Customer Reviews
The writing style is good, carrying the story along briskly. The narrative rarely sags and covers all the major areas from the mythical beginnings to modern times. Other reviewers have commented on the lsat chapter, which focuses on modern attitudes - I thought it worthy of inclusion, and wished the section on WWII could have been a bit longer (how exactly was Bushido used to serve the needs of the state? Why did Japan have a good reputation for prisoners in the Russo-Japanese war and WWI yet go so wildy off the rails in WWII, and how did that relate to Bushido?) The sections on the more well-known areas such as the Sengoku and Edo periods were brief, as was the author's intent. However, the rise of the samurai in the Asuka, Nara and Heian periods was interesting and probably the part of the book that will be most unknown to an average reader. I enjoyed it a lot, even though the book seemed to pick up speed alarmingly towards the latter part.
One thing I did find odd was the uncritical acceptance of several classic moments of samurai mythology. It's always nice to see ninja given short shrift, but the episode of the 47 Ronin was the standard Mitford tale, with no space given to any rebuttal of the traditional parts of the story.Read more ›
This book is for anyone who WANTS to know about Samurai first and Japanese history second.
While it covers virtually every major milestone in Samurai history, I felt it skimmed through some of the more exciting events such as the Mongol Invasion, the Onin war, the age of the Unifiers Nobunaga, Hideyoshi and Ieyasu. If you are interested in the machinations, tactics and intrigue of the Samurai, I recommend the works of Stephen Turnbull, especially the Osprey titles.
However, this title filled in a lot of gaps for me such as the reign of some of Shogun Ieyasu's successors, including events leading to the Meiji restoration and the rebellion of Saigo Takamori - the so called Last Samurai. I thought the last chapter of the book was dry; a brief analysis of the Samurai in the collective Japanese psyche as manifested in media and other areas - this held no interest for me.
Good overview, good introduction but not for military historians.
This book explores the rise of the Samurai, the various battles they fought in, the politics of the feudal lords who commanded them, the myths surrounding them and the impact of Samurai history on modern Japan.
This is well written, very clear and engaging and whilst some passages can be a touch dry, overall this book brings a certain colour and interest to this fascinating subject. On a minor note it would have been nice to have some illustrations and maps to clarify certain points raised and the last chapter, which links the Samurai to modern Japan, was a bit spurious and out of keeping with the rest of the book. But by and large this is a fascinating and informative read. This gives enough detail to make you feel informed, whilst not becoming stale or a slog to read and the assorted battles and wars made for gripping and exciting reading.
If Japan or the Samurai interest you in the slightest then I can heartily recommend this book and if you have a more in-depth interest then this is required reading and makes for a superb primer into the Samurai and their way of life.
Feel free to check out my blog which can be found on my profile page.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It's a very interesting book, although i can not agree with the title, because i think it is not a very brief history. It is a book with a lot of information and details. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Client d'Amazon
History in an almost story book form. No hammering of dates. RecommendedPublished 12 months ago by Lazbing
Provides an alternative view of the society and culture. provokes additional research and interestPublished 15 months ago by Gill
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