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The Samurai: The Warrior Tradition Hardcover – 6 Jun 1996
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A combined volume containing both "Samurai Warriors" and "Samurai Warlords", this book evokes the drama of the charismatic Samurai warriors. Tales of personal valour, ambition, chivalry, ruthlesssness and determination are presented here in a colourful omnibus edition.
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The book is enhanced by many beautifully painted colour plates by James Field of samurai generals in full armour, as well as the simpler armour worn by foot soldiers, and others depicting aspects of samurai life. Black and white diagrams depict details of armour lacing and how the different sections of armour work together. There are further colour plates depicting normal day to day samurai costume.
The book contains chapters covering each major period in samurai history, describing significant battles and personalities, as well as the role of warrior monks, the samurai elite, sex and the samurai, the cultured warlord, the duty of vengeance and the attitude toward death.
Many woodblock print reproductions in colour and black and white are included, together with contemporary photographs of castles, temples, houses, gardens and other landmarks. Several maps are also included but being a compilation of two previous works by author Stephen Turnbull some of these are oddly repeated, as is an illustration which is repeated in colour although appearing in an earlier chapter in black and white.
Despite these publishing discrepancies Stephen Turnbull is an expert in the field with the knack of being able to provide a wealth of information in an easily digested. The book provides a fascinating insight into the often amazingly brave but brutally brief lives of the samurai warrior and, in Western eyes, some of their macabre rituals, such as the head viewing ceremony. It also describes their involvement in the arts and other aesthetic pursuits such as the tea ceremony, theatre, meditation, and the relaxation gained by high ranking samurai from their tranquil Japanese gardens. It is also interesting to read that some samurai did have a well developed sense of irony and humour, and did on occasion display compassion despite their fearsome reputation as the ultimate warrior class.
The second part of the book deals with the Daimyo, the warlords of Japan, starting with the first Samurai Warlord, the 60 year old Hojo Soun in 1491, and goes into detail about their culture, training, family life, women's roles and even how they dealt with death.