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It is what it says on the cover...brief!
on 22 July 2010
This is a good introduction for anyone new to Samurai history. It is objective, succinct and written in a readable style.
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.