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The Lone Samurai: The Life of Miyamoto Musashi Paperback – 12 Apr 2013

4.7 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Shambhala Publications Inc; Reprint edition (12 April 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590309871
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590309872
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 2.1 x 19 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 131,053 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Asked to name the best swordsman ever, most Japanese would pick Musashi, the famous 17th-century samurai turned artist who is the subject of more than 50 movies and dozens of books. But most of those focus on his superior warrior skills. This fascinating new biography by Wilson, an American
translator of samurai literature, goes much deeper, seeking to explain what ultimately drove Musashi from sword-fighting to Zen teachings, ink paintings and writing. He literally embodies the adage 'the pen is mightier than the sword." -Newsweek International
This is the perfect book to satiate your desire to experience the sacrifices and triumphs inherent to a life lived by the sword. Flaunt
"While Miyamoto Musashi is one of the martial arts world's favorite warriors, relatively little is known about him. Thanks to historian William Scott Wilson, that's about to change. In The Lone Samurai: the Life of Miyamoto Musashi, Wilson presents a detailed account of the Japanese swordsman's
life and quest for truth, perfection and enlightenment." -Black Belt Magazine
"It's a thoughtful, entertaining work written by a passionate scholar who avoids the pitfalls posed by a host of obscure Japanese names by using vivid descriptions and a fast-paced narrative. Sometimes dense but never dull, the prose is part history lesson, part detective story, as Wilson sifts
thorough various conflicting accounts of the time." -The Post & Courier (Charleston, SC)
"Wilson, a veteran translator and a longtime student of Japanese language and literature, shows clearly the influence of Zen on Musashi's thinking art, and writing. Appendices document Musashi's role as a Robin Hood-like folk hero in Japaneseliterature and film. Excellent notes and glossary
provide context for the swordsman's life. A fascinating glimpse of a central figure in traditional Japanese culture." -Kirkus Reviews
"Wilson turns his talents to Musashi's turbulent life as a swordsman and teacher, crisply retelling, with background for Western readers, the story known to so many Japanese. A particular contribution of this study is Wilson's account of how Miyamoto's life became legend in later centuries?in the
last 100 years there have been 43 films about him! . . . Lively and balanced, it will please those looking for a readable but serious presentation of medieval Bushido and samurai culture." ?Library Journal
"Wilson, having translated Musashi's book into English (The Book of Five Rings), turns for the first time to biography, with as complete a life of the man behind the sword as possible." -Publishers Weekly
"The author combines many antidotes about Musashi with excerpts from his writings to imbue him with a vibrancy lacking from more sedate treatments of this complex individual. Wilson is as skilled with wordplay as Musashi was with the sword, and he has exhaustively researched his subject. The book
is a compelling journey through seventeenth-century Japanese society, replete with numerous footnotes and a glossary to aid the reader with the referenced Japanese terms and locales. Anyone interested in the martial arts or Japanese history will enjoy this superb biography of the 'lone samurai' who
owed allegiance to no man, but only to his adventurous spirit." -ForeWord Magazine
"Wilson has scoured all available Japanese sources to create a highly readable account of this iconoclastic samurai, who not only contributed to the practice and philosophy of swordsmanship but also make his mark in all Zen-related arts: monochrome ink painting, calligraphy, poetry, sculpture, the
tea ceremony, architecture, and Noh theater. . . . Highly recommended." -Choice
"William Scott Wilson's newest book offers up the most expansive English-language biography of Musashi to date. This lively and informative treatment is the product of a careful sorting and weighing of earlier works, in search of, as Wilson puts it, 'the single, consistent life within.' Wilson
unravels and reweaves his material into a sometimes surprising narrative that significantly enriches our knowledge of Musashi and the legends surrounding him." -Journal of Asian Martial Arts
In The Lone Samurai: the Life of Miyamoto Musashi, William Scott Wilson draws upon his considerable expertise as a preeminent translator of classic samurai texts to write an original biography of the legendary Japanese swordsman who lived and fought in the 17th century feudal Japan . . .
Enthusiastically recommended reading, The Lone Samurai is a superlatively written biography of a truly remarkable man. Midwest Book Review



"Asked to name the best swordsman ever, most Japanese would pick Musashi, the famous 17th-century samurai turned artist who is the subject of more than 50 movies and dozens of books. But most of those focus on his superior warrior skills. This fascinating new biography by Wilson, an American
translator of samurai literature, goes much deeper, seeking to explain what ultimately drove Musashi from sword-fighting to Zen teachings, ink paintings and writing. He literally embodies the adage 'the pen is mightier than the sword." -Newsweek International
This is the perfect book to satiate your desire to experience the sacrifices and triumphs inherent to a life lived by the sword. Flaunt
"While Miyamoto Musashi is one of the martial arts world's favorite warriors, relatively little is known about him. Thanks to historian William Scott Wilson, that's about to change. In The Lone Samurai: the Life of Miyamoto Musashi, Wilson presents a detailed account of the Japanese swordsman's
life and quest for truth, perfection and enlightenment." -Black Belt Magazine
"It's a thoughtful, entertaining work written by a passionate scholar who avoids the pitfalls posed by a host of obscure Japanese names by using vivid descriptions and a fast-paced narrative. Sometimes dense but never dull, the prose is part history lesson, part detective story, as Wilson sifts
thorough various conflicting accounts of the time." -The Post & Courier (Charleston, SC)
"Wilson, a veteran translator and a longtime student of Japanese language and literature, shows clearly the influence of Zen on Musashi's thinking art, and writing. Appendices documentMusashi's role as a Robin Hood-like folk hero in Japanese literature and film. Excellent notes and glossary
provide context for the swordsman's life. A fascinating glimpse of a central figure in traditional Japanese culture." -Kirkus Reviews
"Wilson turns his talents to Musashi's turbulent life as a swordsman and teacher, crisply retelling, with background for Western readers, the story known to so many Japanese. A particular contribution of this study is Wilson's account of how Miyamoto's life became legend in later centuries?in the
last 100 years there have been 43 films about him! . . . Lively and balanced, it will please those looking for a readable but serious presentation of medieval Bushido and samurai culture." ?Library Journal
"Wilson, having translated Musashi's book into English (The Book of Five Rings), turns for the first time to biography, with as complete a life of the man behind the sword as possible." -Publishers Weekly
"The author combines many antidotes about Musashi with excerpts from his writings to imbue him with a vibrancy lacking from more sedate treatments of this complex individual. Wilson is as skilled with wordplay as Musashi was with the sword, and he has exhaustively researched his subject. The book
is a compelling journey through seventeenth-century Japanese society, replete with numerous footnotes and a glossary to aid the reader with the referenced Japanese terms and locales. Anyone interested in the martial arts or Japanese history will enjoy this superb biography of the 'lone samurai' who
owed allegiance to no man, but only to his adventurous spirit." -ForeWord Magazine
"Wilson hasscoured all available Japanese sources to create a highly readable account of this iconoclastic samurai, who not only contributed to the practice and philosophy of swordsmanship but also make his mark in all Zen-related arts: monochrome ink painting, calligraphy, poetry, sculpture, the
tea ceremony, architecture, and Noh theater. . . . Highly recommended." -Choice
"William Scott Wilson's newest book offers up the most expansive English-language biography of Musashi to date. This lively and informative treatment is the product of a careful sorting and weighing of earlier works, in search of, as Wilson puts it, 'the single, consistent life within.' Wilson
unravels and reweaves his material into a sometimes surprising narrative that significantly enriches our knowledge of Musashi and the legends surrounding him." -Journal of Asian Martial Arts
In The Lone Samurai: the Life of Miyamoto Musashi, William Scott Wilson draws upon his considerable expertise as a preeminent translator of classic samurai texts to write an original biography of the legendary Japanese swordsman who lived and fought in the 17th century feudal Japan . . .
Enthusiastically recommended reading, The Lone Samurai is a superlatively written biography of a truly remarkable man. Midwest Book Review


"Asked to name the best swordsman ever, most Japanese would pick Musashi, the famous 17th-century samurai turned artist who is the subject of more than 50 movies and dozens of books. But most of those focus on his superior warrior skills. This fascinating new biography by Wilson, an American translator of samurai literature, goes much deeper, seeking to explain what ultimately drove Musashi from sword-fighting to Zen teachings, ink paintings and writing. He literally embodies the adage 'the pen is mightier than the sword." -Newsweek International
This is the perfect book to satiate your desire to experience the sacrifices and triumphs inherent to a life lived by the sword. Flaunt
"While Miyamoto Musashi is one of the martial arts world's favorite warriors, relatively little is known about him. Thanks to historian William Scott Wilson, that's about to change. In The Lone Samurai: the Life of Miyamoto Musashi, Wilson presents a detailed account of the Japanese swordsman's life and quest for truth, perfection and enlightenment." -Black Belt Magazine
"It's a thoughtful, entertaining work written by a passionate scholar who avoids the pitfalls posed by a host of obscure Japanese names by using vivid descriptions and a fast-paced narrative. Sometimes dense but never dull, the prose is part history lesson, part detective story, as Wilson sifts thorough various conflicting accounts of the time." -The Post & Courier (Charleston, SC)
"Wilson, a veteran translator and a longtime student of Japanese language and literature, shows clearly the influence of Zen on Musashi's thinking art, and writing. Appendices document Musashi's role as a Robin Hood-like folk hero in Japaneseliterature and film. Excellent notes and glossary provide context for the swordsman's life. A fascinating glimpse of a central figure in traditional Japanese culture." -Kirkus Reviews
"Wilson turns his talents to Musashi's turbulent life as a swordsman and teacher, crisply retelling, with background for Western readers, the story known to so many Japanese. A particular contribution of this study is Wilson's account of how Miyamoto's life became legend in later centuries?in the last 100 years there have been 43 films about him! . . . Lively and balanced, it will please those looking for a readable but serious presentation of medieval Bushido and samurai culture." ?Library Journal
"Wilson, having translated Musashi's book into English (The Book of Five Rings), turns for the first time to biography, with as complete a life of the man behind the sword as possible." -Publishers Weekly
"The author combines many antidotes about Musashi with excerpts from his writings to imbue him with a vibrancy lacking from more sedate treatments of this complex individual. Wilson is as skilled with wordplay as Musashi was with the sword, and he has exhaustively researched his subject. The book is a compelling journey through seventeenth-century Japanese society, replete with numerous footnotes and a glossary to aid the reader with the referenced Japanese terms and locales. Anyone interested in the martial arts or Japanese history will enjoy this superb biography of the 'lone samurai' who owed allegiance to no man, but only to his adventurous spirit." -ForeWord Magazine
"Wilson has scoured all available Japanese sources to create a highly readable account of this iconoclastic samurai, who notonly contributed to the practice and philosophy of swordsmanship but also make his mark in all Zen-related arts: monochrome ink painting, calligraphy, poetry, sculpture, the tea ceremony, architecture, and Noh theater. . . . Highly recommended." -Choice
"William Scott Wilson's newest book offers up the most expansive English-language biography of Musashi to date. This lively and informative treatment is the product of a careful sorting and weighing of earlier works, in search of, as Wilson puts it, 'the single, consistent life within.' Wilson unravels and reweaves his material into a sometimes surprising narrative that significantly enriches our knowledge of Musashi and the legends surrounding him." -Journal of Asian Martial Arts
In The Lone Samurai: the Life of Miyamoto Musashi, William Scott Wilson draws upon his considerable expertise as a preeminent translator of classic samurai texts to write an original biography of the legendary Japanese swordsman who lived and fought in the 17th century feudal Japan . . . Enthusiastically recommended reading, The Lone Samurai is a superlatively written biography of a truly remarkable man. Midwest Book Review



"Asked to name the best swordsman ever, most Japanese would pick Musashi, the famous 17th-century samurai turned artist who is the subject of more than 50 movies and dozens of books. But most of those focus on his superior warrior skills. This fascinating new biography by Wilson, an American translator of samurai literature, goes much deeper, seeking to explain what ultimately drove Musashi from sword-fighting to Zen teachings, ink paintings and writing. He literally embodies the adage 'the pen is mightier than the sword." -Newsweek International


This is the perfect book to satiate your desire to experience the sacrifices and triumphs inherent to a life lived by the sword. Flaunt


"While Miyamoto Musashi is one of the martial arts world's favorite warriors, relatively little is known about him. Thanks to historian William Scott Wilson, that's about to change. In The Lone Samurai: the Life of Miyamoto Musashi, Wilson presents a detailed account of the Japanese swordsman's

About the Author

William Scott Wilson is the foremost translator into English of traditional Japanese texts on samurai culture. He received BA degrees from Dartmouth College and the Monterey Institute of Foreign Studies, and an MA in Japanese literary studies from the University of Washington. His best-selling books include "The Book of Five Rings," "The Unfettered Mind," and "The Lone Samurai," a biography of Miyamoto Musashi.


Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Having read "Go Rin No Sho" this was the next book i picked up with the aim of learning more about Musashi. This was everything i wanted from this book, a fleshed out and full story of Musashi's life as well as the lives of the warriors he faught and his family. If you are interested in Samurai, the ancient Japanese way of life or Bushido this book will be a satisfying read.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
William Scott Wilson is a talented writer and translator, and this attempt to uncover the man behind the legend of Miyamoto Musashi is his best work in my opinion. "Lone Samurai" goes very well as a partner to his translation of The Book of Five Rings, but works as a stand alone read for anyone remotely interested in the subject.
It is by no means difficult to read either, and the authors use of a reference section at the back to further explain points in the text is extremely useful.
It is one of the most informative and entertaining books I have ever read.
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Format: Hardcover
"It is difficult to imagine another character from either history or literature who has captured the imagination of a people. Miyamoto Musashi did not change the politics or shape events in Japanese history. Nor did he write a work that would affect a genre of literature or poems that would become classics. Yet there is something at the heart of his story that has commanded the attention of the Japanese people and others who have heard it. The story as told in any one iteration - any play, movie, novel or comic book is never definitive enough. The story of Musashi, even in its paucity of facts, is much too large to fit once and for all in any single package."

At the age of thirteen Miyamoto Musashi won his first duel, by the age of thirty he had fought around sixty more, and had lost none, most ending in the death or serious injury of his opponent. After the age of thirty although he still fought - he chose to no longer kill or harm his opponents, he merely blocked, thwarted and demonstrated the weaknesses in their style of swordplay, until they gave up and understood that he was the better swordsman. This alone would be enough to create a legend of his life if it were all and yet, as the quote above states, there's much, much more. Musashi was not only one of the greatest swordsman of his time, he was also a poet, an extraordinarily skilled painter, sculptor, metallurgist, garden designer and philosopher and in a time when a career as a Samurai* meant being indentured to a master, Musashi followed his own path, committing his life to the way of the warrior.

Musashi was active during a period called the Kyoto Renaissance (1550 - 1650) after suffering a disastrous 150 years of internal conflict, with ancient temples, artwork and libraries lost for all time.
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Format: Hardcover
Yes, you must have heard of him, Musashi the legendary kenshi (sword master) of 17th Century Japan, author of the famous Book of Five Rings. This is a book about the great man. Warrior, philosopher, artist and down-right hard man!

Wilson has written an authoritative and accessible book on the life and times of this master. A master of his chosen martial art when it meant life and death in the most real sense, get it wrong and you die - period! A man of the greatest discipline and training in whatever he turned his mind to. This is a book about a man who fought in real hand to hand battles and became a supreme inspiration and strategist even now 400 years later.

It doesn't matter if you've never handled a sword or even if you never intend to, this is abook written about and inspiration.
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Format: Hardcover
Miyamoto Musashi has to be one of the greatest Samurai that ever lived and his lives exploits and adventures are thrilling and exciting to read.

Who better then than the highly talented and travelled William Scott Wilson to translate this historical masterpiece.

I'm going to have to read it again so that I can give you a better review. Amazon deleted my last one, (along with 150 other reviews!) which detailed the stories in the book.....but....it's just the sort of well written and EXCITING book that you would want to re-read anyway.

If you're into Japanese culture, history and Budo (Martial Arts), then this title should take pride of place in your library!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I found the Japanese names, characters and little back stories a little hard to take in initially but it really didn't matter, the pace is quite brisk for the first part and trying to fathom out this Japanese folk hero for the first time made this an intriguing read. Is it all true? Is it the whole truth? Has it been exaggerated and/or modified for the sake of a good story over the years? The author does a fine job of referencing all of his sources and does an excellent job of tersely assessing and resolving conflicting accounts from different sources (perhaps helped by Japanese scholars who have trodden this path before?).

The book is relatively small and fast paced, the large, clear fonts help even my tired old eyes. The book is attractively laid out and includes a couple of welcome and well considered maps and a few well chosen images of paintings by Miyamoto Musashi (or Nitin - his artist name) to supplement the text. The book is beautifully bound in a tasteful hard cover. There is a quality/Japanese influence/feel to the book.

What to make of Miyamoto Musashi though: the spoilt son of a samurai; violent young killer thug; highly skilled, intuitive, competitive & lethal swordsman; loner; friend of the powerful & famous; deep Zen martial artist; accomplished painter/sculptor/poet/warrior; a legend in his own lifetime and for hundreds of years since. Perhaps all these things and more. He is Japan's most famous swordsman, yet he often used a bokken (a wooden training sword) rather than a steel sword (e.g. katana) as his primary weapon - killing with it sometimes. A more complex character/history than I expected but perhaps a product (albeit an exceptional example) of his time & place.
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