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Shogun Mass Market Paperback – September 1, 1986

1,076 customer reviews
Book 1 of 6 in the Asian Saga Series

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Editorial Reviews


"Superbly crafted...grips the reader like a riptide...gets the juices flowing!"—Washington Star

"Exciting, totally prepared for late nights, meals unlasting, buisness unattended..."—Philadelphia Inquirer

"Adventure and action, the suspense of danger, shocking, touching human relationships...a climactic human story." —Los Angeles Times

“A tale surging with action, intrigue and love...a huge cast…vast and dramatic ...stunning… extraordinary performance.”
Publishers Weekly

“I can’t remember when a novel has seized my mind like this one....It’s not only something you read–you live it.” –New York Times Book Review

From the Publisher

A bold English adventuer. An invincible Japanese warlord. A beautiful woman torn between two ways of life, two ways of love. All brought together in a mighty saga of a time and place aflame with conflict, passion, ambition, lust and the struggle for power.

"Superbly crafted...grips the reader like a riptide...gets the juices flowing!" -- Washington Star.

"Exciting, totally prepared for late nights, meals unlasting, buisness unattended..." -- Philadelphia Inquirer.

"Adventure and action, the suspense of danger, shocking, touching human relationships...a climactic human story." -- Los Angeles Times.


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 1152 pages
  • Publisher: Dell; Reissue edition (September 1, 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0440178002
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440178002
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.5 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,076 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,921 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

370 of 384 people found the following review helpful By Patrick Shepherd VINE VOICE on March 20, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
'Historical' fiction is something of a misnomer, as books placed in this category are almost always fiction first and 'historical' only in time and setting. Shogun, however, comes close to being a true example of this field, detailing the late 16th century exploration and exploitation of the Orient by the Portuguese, Dutch, Spanish, and English. As few Americans are aware of some of the atrocities and cruelties committed in the name of crown and religion during this period, some of the scenes depicted in this book may come as shock. But they provide an excellent background portrait of the European mind-set of those times, a palette that Clavell uses to contrast and define the extraordinarily different culture of the Japan of that time.
And it is his portrait of the Japanese, his lovingly detailed characterizations of Toranaga, Mariko, Omi and their deeply intertwined interactions with the English pilot Blackthorne that defines and breathes life into this breathtakingly large and complex story of love, war, and political intrigue. And these characters are not static. Each grows and changes as events unfold, most especially Blackthorne himself, growing from a totally self-centered 'barbarian' of unclean habits to a person who can appreciate the beauty, intelligence, and moral rectitude of others, who comes to care deeply for those around him, who comes to understand a philosophy of life totally different from that of his own culture. The reader will eventually take each of these characters into his heart, will live right along with them and their problems, cares, successes, and failures, until they are almost more real than the mundane world the reader inhabits.
Is this book totally historically accurate? No, but it doesn't really need to be.
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113 of 130 people found the following review helpful By Lilly Flora VINE VOICE on January 16, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
"Very few men are wise-most are sinners and great evil happens on earth in gods name. But not of god. This world is vale of tears and only a preparation for the everlasting peace."-James Clavell, page 1085, Shogun.

For some reason this statement, made by Japanese christen monk perfectly sums up the awesome book that is shogun. I don't mean awesome in the sense of "dude, that was awesome", I mean it in the sense that this book is awe inspiring, mind blowing and devastatingly emotional and good.

This is a book about a man named John Blackthorn, English pilot of the Dutch ship Erasmus who was washed ashore with what was left of his crew in the small Japanese village of Anjiro. His tale is amazing, for Blackthorn will become the man who brings Japan into the 17th century, introduces them to guns, and totally decimates the Portuguese Jesuit hold over Japan. None of this sounds good of course, but that's because this book isn't really about Blackthorn.

I've always avoided Asian fiction and history, so I have no idea how accurate this book is. But, even if it's all total hooey, this book is amazing. It brings to life the Japan of flying cherry petals, green bamboo, samurai honor and wild mountain peaks. This is a book about honor and love and crossing cultural boundaries. It's a book about duty and karma and everything that is noble in life.

Written in the style of Michener, only with more emotion, I can only say that this is one of the best books I have ever read. It's so good in fact, that I don't think I can ever read it again.
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57 of 72 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 9, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
For sheer narrative power and immersion in another world, few have done it better than Clavell in Shogun. The book grabs you from the first page and never seems to let go. It's an easy read, too, since you barely notice you're reading. (I read it in three days back in the seventies, hardly stopping for air, and have needed bifocals with reading lenses ever since.) Still the book has some unfortunate blunders including an allusion to a samurai using judo (not invented until the 1880's, while this book takes place in the 16th century) and another shaking off his sandals to kick at an enemy (quite out of character for such warriors since they were predominantly weaponed soldiers who would never choose to kick an enemy if they had access to one of their traditional instruments of war; besides so-called karate kicking wasn't introduced into Japan, from Okinawa, until the 1920's). The worst error, I thought, had Lord Toranaga playing chess, a western game, when it would have made more sense for him to be playing the indigenous Japanese game of go instead. But the Japanese warriors did have jiu-jitsu, the forerunner of judo, and kicking could have been a part of what they did (however unlikely) and Toronaga could have taught himself chess since he is portrayed as a quick study with a keen and very deep mind. And besides, these are minor quibbles. Basically, this is a powerful tale of intrigue and maneuvering as the players move about on the chessboard of feudal Japan, never certain who among them is really moving the pieces and who is just being moved -- at least until the end. The sense and feel of the culture, if not the details, also ring remarkably true and you do feel as though you've lived the entire experience when at last you close the book on the final page.Read more ›
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