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Samurai: A History (P.S.) Paperback – February 18, 2014


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Product Details

  • Series: P.S.
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (February 18, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062202677
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062202673
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #56,158 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

For decades, Japanese and American literature and films have idealized and romanticized nineteenth-century samurai as a noble but anachronistic elite, doomed as Japan emerged from a feudal past. But British historian and Asian specialist Man has written an exciting, surprising, and moving account of the real thing. Saigo Takamori was born in 1817 into a family of relatively low-ranking samurai warriors. At the time, Japan was still governed as a decentralized state under the overall military authority of a shogun who ruled in the name of a largely ceremonial emperor. The samurai served as the shock troops for various local rulers, and sometimes for the shogun. In 1867, disgruntled samurai and some aristocratic families dissolved the shogunate and restored the power of the emperor. Whatever their intentions, the samurai had planted the seeds of their own destruction, as Japan “modernized” and evolved into a bureaucratic state. Takamori’s continued devotion to the samurai traditions spelled his doom at the hands of powerful forces he helped to create. This is a well-written saga of an admirable warrior, who, like his class, fell victim to inevitable historical change. --Jay Freeman

Review

“With a relaxed and honest prose style [Man] slashes through the thicket of 19th-century Japanese politics with the keenness of a samurai’s tempered steel blade.” (The Daily Express)

“A well-written piece of history with an easy storyteller’s rhythm and plenty of intrigue. Readers will quickly realize that the author is well-versed in Far Eastern history, but he also accommodates new discoveries and insights. … Smooth, sophisticated history writing.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“Exciting, surprising, and moving. ... A well-written saga” (Booklist)

“An engaging look at the final days of a military elite.” (Shelf Awareness)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Charley Pearson on September 27, 2014
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent, smoothly-written, fun-to-read history of Saigo, the last Samurai (see the Amazon book description; it's accurate). The general history of Samurai that accompanies Saigo's story is fascinating, and includes some geography that could spark an interest to visit Japan (as if there weren't already enough cool things to see there). It was recommended to me by a Japanese-American born in Tokyo in 1938. I'm off to read Man's "Ninja" history now. Good to get the reality behind the myths.
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