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Gai-Jin Paperback – May 19, 2009

212 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The second volume in Clavell's Shogun quartet was a 13-week PW bestseller.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

From Kirkus Reviews

Back to feudal Japan, which now enters the modern world, from the master of the three-decker behemoth (Shogun, Tai-pan, Noble House, etc.). Once you're into it, you forgive Clavell his galloping grammar and anachronisms and are swept along by spirited storytelling. Although Clavell clearly takes this hackwork as weighty and worthy entertainment, the heart quails at a serious weighing of a novel peopled with larger-than-life comic-strip characters caught up in clich‚s of Japanese exotica and international business deals as well as of internecine warfare--all of which Clavell writes at full throttle as if infused by the soul of Alexandre Dumas. A sequel to Tai-pan (1966), this is the sixth novel in Clavell's Asian saga and takes place in 1862. The gai-jin (foreigners) have arrived, intent on doing business with the Japanese. With laws against the use of the wheel in carriages or carts, the Japanese, their tradition- bound Emperor and competing warlords detest the foreigners, who have ruined the Chinese with the Opium Wars. The mighty Struan shipping empire, Noble House, has built a base in Yokohama, but with the illness (fatal) of Culum Struan, tai-pan (head) of the business empire, 20-year-old Malcolm Struan stands ready to become tai-pan. In the first chapter, however, he's attacked by samurai assassins on the Tokaido road and lies either bedridden or hobbles about for the rest of the novel. Young Angelique Richaud, 18, Parisienne daughter of a gambler who has lost what money the family had, sets her eye on Malcolm. Angelique is raped by a rogue samurai and now secretly carries his child, unbeknownst to the love- besotted Malcolm. Angelique's syphilis-stricken fellow Frenchman Andre Poncin wends his way through the plot toward a glorious love- death with his Japanese mistress while Japanese warlords fight each other, samurai endlessly behead samurai, earthquakes shiver, and Yokohama burns. You get your money's worth if you want to spend it here. (Literary Guild Dual Selection for Summer) -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 1092 pages
  • Publisher: Delta (May 19, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385343272
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385343275
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (212 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #759,827 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

James Clavell, who died in 1994, was a screenwriter, director, producer, and novelist born in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Although he wrote the screenplays for a number of acclaimed films, including The Fly (1958), The Great Escape (1963), and To Sir With Love (1967), he is best known for his epic novels in his Asian Saga.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

109 of 119 people found the following review helpful By Kindle Customer on January 24, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
First and foremost James Clavell was one of the most talented writers ever. Especially if you like fiction about Asia. Not only did he tell great stories but his books were filled with so much good history and culture about places like China and Japan. Though I was never a fan of "King Rat" books like Shogun, Tai-Pan, and Noble House were some of the best I ever read. They were books you never wanted to end.
Gai-Jin starts off that way as well. The first 400 or 500 pages of Gai-Jin are classic Clavell. Combining many of the stories and characters from Shogun, Tai Pan, and Noble House. The books first 500 pages are terrific. Clavell using some familiar faces from his other books sets the stage for the Meiji Restoration in Japan.
The book in typical Clavell fashion talks about the history of Japan after the arrival of Commodore Perry in 1853 as well as of China while it was divided up into spheres of influence.
Gai-Jin is so good at setting the stage for Meiji with its characters discussing Japan's options of either learning for the Gai-Jin or attempting a futile resistance and facing humilation like China suffered under the Opium Wars.
Unfortunately Clavell died shortly after finishing this book. And unfortunately the affects of his illness affect the second half of the book. The book just loses focus 1/2 way through. My gut feeling is that Clavell's illness just caught up to him. Because the book just goes downhill and nowhere which is not typical of Clavell.
Clavell will never be replaced. Other fictional books about Asia do not even compare. Cloud of Sparrows, The Laura Joh Rowland Books, are ok but not in Clavell's league. The first half of Gai-Jin reminds us how good he was. Unfortunately, he will never be replaced.
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful By SH in Tampa on April 9, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Gai-jin is set after Clavell's "Tai-pan". The heir to the Noble House trading company, established in Tai-pan, travels to Japan to expand the fortunes of his great company. However, the new heir is not a strong as the great Dirk Struan and the rivals of the Noble House conspire to destroy it. All this treachery is set against a backdrop of terrorism and diplomatic intrigue as the warlords of Japan conspire to take advantage of the presences of the "gai jin".
This book has the murders, battles, rapes, natural disasters and convoluted politics that are the hallmarks of Clavell's writing. However, just like the Noble House heir, the book starts off wounded and never really recovers. Unlike many of Clavell's other books, there is no strong lead character to really carry the story, and as a result, it does not move as smoothly or as interesting as his previous books, Shogun and Tai-pan.
Unfortunately James Clavell has set the bar a little too high with his previous novels and this one isn't quite as good. Still, if you are a fan, it is worth reading. If you have never read a Clavell novel, pick up one of the others first and you will appreciate his writing more.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By trashcanman VINE VOICE on December 8, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Just finished this book yesterday.I was positively hooked on it once I opened it. A friend recommended this one to me since I'm a big admirer of Japanese culture. This book has so many complicated stories going on it can be rough to keep up with them all at once, especially when they all weave together, but you still care for each of the characters. The story allows you to see all sides of every conflict, there is no black or white, it's all grey. You root for almost every character, even though they are all conflicting with each other. For example, the Shogunate rule the country with military might while the revolutionary shishi samurai, driven to poverty by the shogunate's excesses, are organising a coup to restore power to the emperor. The man passed over as shogun, Lord Yoshi, is strong and admirable and beset by enemies on all sides; a target of shishi assassinations and power grabs from within his own shogunate. Meanwhile, he must deal with the gai-jin (foreigners) who have been allowed to settle in Yokohama and are hated by shishi and shogunate alike. But the British navy threatens to crush Yedo (Tokyo) and take Japan by force if not allowed to conduct their trade. As the Japanese have no guns or cannons, they must comply...for now. Hiraga (who uses several names over the course of the book to hide his identity) is a shishi who wishes to exterminate all gai-jin and the shogunate as well. Sounds like an evil character, but you come to understand his point of view and even root for the guy as he crawls through the snakes' nest that is the politics of 19th century Japan. Like I said, a lot of grey area, when the shishi attempt to assassinate Yoshi you don't know who to root for. That kind of stuff makes this book so engaging.Read more ›
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 10, 1997
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I was captivated by Shogun, and it sparked what has come to be a life-long fascination and study of Japan. As I learned, I recognized that Clavell's characterization of Japanese culture and this particular period in Japanese history was not entirely accurate. But he was telling a story for Western audiences, and it was an historical novel, not a history. Had he not taken artistic license, perhaps I would not have been so entranced.

The opening of Japan is one of the country's most fascinating periods, when centuries of tradition were turned topsy-turvy and the way of life was wrenched into the Modern Age almost overnight. I eagerly awaited Gai-Jin and Clavell's interpretation.

Perhaps he was old and forgetful, perhaps he was too sick, or maybe he was so important a writer that no one dared tell him, "Jim, you need to do more research before you publish this -- your Japanese characters are using Chinese(? - anyway, not Japanese) words, and phonemes that aren't even in the Japanese language. You've given men's names to women, and bonze (Buddhist priest) names to young men who haven't retired to the priesthood, and your leading Japanese character only has half a name." (Yoshi is a sometimes a modern nickname, but for a "full" given name like Yoshinobu, Yoshitada or Yoshi-e. No samurai or noble would have ever used a half-name in a formal introduction.) As I read further, I found that the mistakes weren't just in the details, but even in the fundamental characterizations of the factions and forces that were struggling within Japan about what to do with the foreigners on their shores.
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