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Japanese Castles 1540-1640 (Fortress) Paperback – April 20, 2003

3.5 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Stephen Turnbull is the world's leading English language authority on medieval Japan and the samurai. He has travelled extensively in the far east, particularly in Japan and Korea and is the author of 'The Samurai - A Military History' and numerous Osprey books including Men-at-Arms 86: 'Samurai Armies 1550-1615', Campaign 69: 'Nagashino 1575' and Warrior 29: 'Ashigaru 1467-1649'.
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Product Details

  • Series: Fortress (Book 5)
  • Paperback: 64 pages
  • Publisher: Osprey Publishing (April 20, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841764299
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841764290
  • Product Dimensions: 7.2 x 0.1 x 9.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #440,612 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By D. O. Becker on August 24, 2003
Format: Paperback
This book provides a good overview of Japanese castles from the introduction of stone bases and walls in 1540 to the introduction of long range bombardment in 1640. The book provides information on the Japanese castle's history, layout and castle elements, daily life, operational history, and information on the castles today. There are many photos from the Turnbull's travels and excellent illustrations by Peter Dennis.
Anyone familiar with the Osprey series books will be happy with this edition. As someone not familiar with Japanese castle history, the book gave me an excellent overview and understanding of their role. It also has a good bibliography for getting more information.
However, there are a few shortcomings in the book. I dislike the author's tendency to jump around in the narrative. "As previously mentioned...", "As noted earlier...", "As will be explained later..." I also wish there were a good map of the castles showing locations, build dates, and other info. The author leaves this responsibility to other books.
The illustrations are excellent, full of detail, and wonderful bird's eye and cutaway views. The battle illustrations contain many tiny tales in some of the details. The cutaway views contain many interesting vignettes. My edition of the book has one of the castle keep illustrations on the cover. My only complaint with the illustrations is that I would love to see more.
All in all, a very good, well illustrated overview of the subject matter.
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Format: Paperback
Japanese Castles 1540-1640

By Stephen Turnbull

Osprey Publishing

Illustration and Images: 4 of 5 stars

Content: 3 of 5 Stars

If you are looking for a primer for Japanese Castles, then this book is great for it. But if you are looking for something more in depth, I would look elsewhere. While Mr. Turnbull does an excellent job of describing the basic set up and aspects of construction of the castle, the other sections of the book leaves much to desire. I especially found the chapter of castle life very sparse and lacking. Also he has a tendency to state interesting facts but never quite follow them up to the satisfaction of the reader. A good example of this is on page 35 when he discusses the story of a thief who ties himself to a kite to steal the gold scales of the shachi (the dolphin on top of the castle keep used to ward off misfortune) of Nagoya castle. This is further seen in the operational history section, where he seems to just ramble off facts about castles and sieges leaving the reader's appetite stimulated but not sated.

On the plus side, Peter Dennis's illustration lends itself nicely to Turnbull's text as do the photographs. This is a nice aid, as sometimes I found the written description hard to imagine and the pictures help gelled an image in my mind. The only complaint I have is that description of Azuchi in the book states that the topmost room was octagonal, yet in the images of it, the top room is rectangular and the second to the top is the octagonal one. Also as a gamer, I also wish there was more maps but one can't always get everything.
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This whole (Osprey Publishing) series should be advertised as monographs, rather than books. That said, they are all well written and very informative. I especially like Turnbull's "War in Japan 1467-1615" and Bryant's "Sekigahara 1600." I have read some complaints that the works should have been longer. But I would find them less useful if they were padded to make readers feel like "they were getting their money's worth." If one thinks of each book as the transcript of lecture series, they are, in fact, a bargain.
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