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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: 98,498 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 InternationalThis 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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

William Scott Wilson was born in 1944 and grew up in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. As an undergraduate student at Dartmouth College in 1966, he was invited by a friend to join a three-month kayak trip up the coast of Japan from Shimonoseki to Tokyo. This eye-opening journey, beautifully documented in National Geographic, spurred Wilson's fascination with the culture and history of Japan. After receiving a B.A. degree in political science from Dartmouth, Wilson earned a second B.A. in Japanese language and literature from the Monterey Institute of Foreign Studies in Monterey, California, then undertook extensive research on Edo-period (1603-1868) philosophy at the Aichi Prefectural University, in Nagoya, Japan. Wilson completed his first translation, Hagakure, while living in an old farmhouse deep in the Japanese countryside. Hagakure saw publication in 1979, the same year Wilson completed an M.A. in Japanese language and literature at the University of Washington. Wilson's other translations include The Book of Five Rings, The Life-Giving Sword, The Unfettered Mind, the Eiji Yoshikawa novel Taiko, and Ideals of the Samurai, which has been used as a college textbook on Japanese history and thought. Two decades after its initial publication, Hagakure was prominently featured in the Jim Jarmusch film Ghost Dog. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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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