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SUMMARY Samurai By John Man

And in many ways marks the birth of modern Japan Saigo was a man trapped by paradox a faithful servant to the emperor and yet a leader of rebel troops; a mighty Samurai warrior and also a master of Chinese poetry His life and ultimately his death offer a window into the hundreds of years of culture and tradition that defined the samurai I'm usually a fan of History but this book was rough I expected a relatively short recap of Samurai culminating in some details about their final years of relevance Instead the author is crushing on the man considered the last relevant samuraiPros History Not much otherwise it was difficult for me to finish thisCons Extreme focus on one samurai and obviously preferential treatment of him Glosses over what looks like some of the most interesting parts of the conflicts One chapter focuses on what seems like highly speculative detail about the subjects sex life That part felt very out of place in this context Doctor Who paradox a faithful servant to the emperor and yet a leader of rebel troops; a mighty Samurai warrior and also a master of Chinese An Affair with My Mother poetry His life and ultimately his death offer a window into the hundreds of years of culture and tradition that defined the samurai I'm usually a fan of History but this book was rough I expected a relatively short recap of Samurai culminating in some details about their final years of relevance Instead the author is crushing on the man considered the last relevant samuraiPros History Not much otherwise it was difficult for me to finish thisCons Extreme focus on one samurai and obviously Peppa Pig preferential treatment of him Glosses over what looks like some of the most interesting Dot.Homme parts of the conflicts One chapter focuses on what seems like highly speculative detail about the subjects sex life That The West (3rd Edition) part felt very out of The Maddest Idea (Revolution at Sea place in this context

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Samurai By John Man

The name 'Samurai' is synonymous with the ultimate warrior With their elaborate armour fierce swordsmanship and code of honour the samurai have become iconic figures whose influence can still be felt today From Kurosawa's epic Seven Samurai to the figure of Darth Vader in Star Wars to Manga comics and video games the figure of the fight The preface identifies that this book is three stories intertwined Primarily it is the story of Saigo Takamori known as the Last Samurai Although this immediately conjures the movie of the same name staring the midget scientologist put that from your mind It is far from fact and should be disregardedFor the most part the book is a biography The second story referred to is the story of Japanese history from their isolation to the Meiji Restoration and the Satsuma Rebellion and the third story is that of Samurai and the end of their heritage To be fair the second and third stories are really told in the context of Saigo's biographySaigo is a complex character and this era of Japanese history is complicated Saigo ends up on both sides of the complex argument ultimately establishing the army that in turn ends up running him down as a rebel and results in his death The author manages to work through the complexities and explains each step in the politics and the role of the daimyos the shogun and the EmperorThe writing is simple the story is well organised and the background and technicalities are introduced at the right time and in the right level of detail not so much as to sidetrack the story but enough to provide an understanding to maintain the story There are a lot of plenty of photographs some in colour others in bw scattered through the text3 stars An Affair with My Mother preface identifies that this book is three stories intertwined Primarily it is the story of Saigo Takamori known as the Last Samurai Although this immediately conjures the movie of the same name staring the midget scientologist Peppa Pig put that from your mind It is far from fact and should be disregardedFor the most Dot.Homme part the book is a biography The second story referred to is the story of Japanese history from their isolation to the Meiji Restoration and the Satsuma Rebellion and the third story is that of Samurai and the end of their heritage To be fair the second and third stories are really told in the context of Saigo's biographySaigo is a complex character and this era of Japanese history is complicated Saigo ends up on both sides of the complex argument ultimately establishing the army that in turn ends up running him down as a rebel and results in his death The author manages to work through the complexities and explains each step in the The West (3rd Edition) politics and the role of the daimyos the shogun and the EmperorThe writing is simple the story is well organised and the background and technicalities are introduced at the right time and in the right level of detail not so much as to sidetrack the story but enough to The Maddest Idea (Revolution at Sea provide an understanding to maintain the story There are a lot of The Ultimate Guide to Trail Running plenty of A Biggles Omnibus photographs some in colour others in bw scattered through the text3 stars

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Ing samurai still inspires us today In John Man's new book we discover the truth behind the legendFrom his birth in the shadow of the great volcano Sakurajima to his glorious death by ritual suicide and disembowelment Saigo Takamori was the ultimate Samurai leader His fall brought about the end of hundreds of years of Samurai tradition Interesting and a fast read about Saigo Takamori The Last Samurai who led the Satsuma Rebellion against the Meiji government of Japan in 1877 I would have liked depth in the treatment of this subject but what I liked about it was that Man followed in the footsteps of Saigo mainly on the southern island of Kyushu so I enjoyed the travelogue aspect of the story A much better retelling of the story of Saigo is to be found as a chapter in Ivan Morris' The Nobility of Failure Tragic Heroes in the History of Japan


10 thoughts on “Samurai By John Man

  1. says:

    The preface identifies that this book is three stories intertwined Primarily it is the story of Saigo Takamori known as the Last Samurai Although this immediately conjures the movie of the same name staring the midget scientologist put that from your mind It is far from fact and should be disregardedFor the most part the book is a biography The second story referred to is the story of Japanese history from their isolation to the Meiji Restoration and the Satsuma Rebellion and the third story is that of Samurai and the end of their heritage To be fair the second and third stories are really told in the context of Saigo's biographySaigo is a complex character and this era of Japanese history is complicated Saigo ends up on both sides of the complex argument ultimately establishing the army that in turn ends up running him down as a rebel and results in his death The author manages to work through the complexities and explains each step in the politics and the role of the daimyos the shogun and the EmperorThe writing is simple the story is well organised and the background and technicalities are introduced at the right time and in the right level of detail not so much as to sidetrack the story but enough to provide an understanding to maintain the story There are a lot of plenty of photographs some in colour others in bw scattered through the text3 stars


  2. says:

    The Last Warrior is the sub title of the book it’s around 50% of the book which is solely dedicated to Saigo Takemori who was the “last Samurai” who was finally defeated in 1877 with the failure of the Satsuma rebellionIt reads like a novel rather than a history text in the opening chapters as the author injects his brand of humour within the narrative which is mostly sound in his attempt to be “down with the kids” – you’ll see what I mean should you pick this up The first half gives a fair bit of pre amble which relay modern day scenarios to the way of the samurai chapters are brief give some insight into what makes a samurai or components of their way of life We have a chapter on training a young mind a section on the religion Shinto an all too small chapter on the samurai sword Seppuku early origins creation history of Japan America’s “invasion” of Japan Bushido code However every chapter jus touches on the subject matter Its not deeply detailed giving the reader jus enough insight to see the machinations of a Samurai It also covers western influence on its culture especially an American “forced” trade agreement which ended nearly 250yrs 1600 1850 of isolation of Japan from the outside world bar a few Dutch traders This chapter helps to set up the reasoning of the revolt how Saigo became it’s leaderAbout Saigo himself there are plenty of anecdotes written accounts in the narrative the author certainly has does his homework but I must admit I would have liked some counter from the other side to balance out the tale turn it into a story as at times it reads purely like a homage to the man which for me wasn’t that appealing come the endSome part entertaining other parts monotonous a so it’s 25pts rounded upto a three as at times it’s an alright account


  3. says:

    An excellent biography of Saigo the true last samurai Really unsure why Hollywood chose to replace him with a Westerner in the movie His story was just as moving and poignant as was his redemption after death Saigo was uite the walking contradiction easily showing that few things in this human world are black and white The author has the knack for educating and providing sources while making it sound like you're sitting across from him at a pub while he tells you the story Really am unsure why the intro to this book's entry on Goodreads et al reads The definitive history of the Samurai it's really just the biography of Saigo Nonetheless a really well done and excellently written biography It does lose one star for me in its false advertising of being a history on the Samurai class


  4. says:

    I didn't read the backcover before I bought this book; I just saw the title 'SAMURAI' went my brain and thought that it would make an interesting and very cool readSo imagine my bemusement when I realised that yes this is a book about the Samurai but it's also somewhat of a biography of one Saigo Takamori who is to uote John Man uoting Mark Ravina a 'revered rebel and a loyal traitor' John Man's style of writing can be uite informal in places It's like he's chatting to you as he tells the reader of his research the guides who took him here and there the description of everything how this could just be legend and that could just be exaggeration etc etc Now I love that way of imbibing history I adore listening to Dan Carlin's Hardcore History podcast after all but I wasn't uite prepared for it It grew on me however And by the end of the book I rather enjoyed itSo to sum up I now know of the Samurai I am still somewhat bemused by Saigo and I should have read the back cover And y'know the subtitle Yes That was rather a large clue


  5. says:

    As others have indicated the title of this book is a little deceptive Though the author does give some general background on samurai and their culture the book is mostly about Saigo and his role in a period of rapid change in Japan in the late 1800's The author does a good job of explaining the complex politics and interplay of the daimyos samurai shogun foreigners and emperor I've been interested in the medieval period of the daimyos and shoguns and this book showed me the denouement of that time period The author also does a good job characterizing Saigo's personal traits of loyalty and honor and how that led him to his final resistance to the new centralized government The last chapters of the book are the best as they describe Saigo's final military actionsStill if you're looking for a history and detailed description of the samurai this isn't the book for you Also the style of the book is a little jumpy moving confusedly from descriptions of episodes in Saigo's life to general details about samurai culture to modern day scenes as the author travels Japan


  6. says:

    Interesting and a fast read about Saigo Takamori The Last Samurai who led the Satsuma Rebellion against the Meiji government of Japan in 1877 I would have liked depth in the treatment of this subject but what I liked about it was that Man followed in the footsteps of Saigo mainly on the southern island of Kyushu so I enjoyed the travelogue aspect of the story A much better retelling of the story of Saigo is to be found as a chapter in Ivan Morris' The Nobility of Failure Tragic Heroes in the History of Japan


  7. says:

    Interesting informative reasonably detailed although in truth this book really should have been retitled Saigo the Last Samurai Warrior Otherwise by the title Samurai the Last Warrior A History the reader is actually under the impression that this book is about a history of the samurai Other samurais are in the background of this book and the history period is not as long therefore as one thinks Apart from a very misleading title and a very misleading caption in the photograph section page 178 of the top photo that's not Toshiro Mifune and in the film Seven Samurai he's not the leader of the ronin Takashi Shimura is the leader his character wasn't even a samurai His character was a farmer not just a villager and he was after rewards not for a cause Unfortunately the beginning line on page one is also somewhat off putting It is true that George Lukas found some pieces here and there to meld into his movie franchise but there certainly wasn'tisn't anything to get carried away by I have read John Man before and he usually is uite good


  8. says:

    I learnt a lot from this book Even after a decade in Japan there were a great deal of new discoveries John Man is an excellent writer and storyteller He tells history and adds some picturesue descriptions of Japan which blend the real with the folklore I was so happy to read about the real Saigo Sama after that Tom Cruise nonsenseI shall be reading from this author A new favourite Clear concise and punchy to read


  9. says:

    I'm usually a fan of History but this book was rough I expected a relatively short recap of Samurai culminating in some details about their final years of relevance Instead the author is crushing on the man considered the last relevant samuraiPros History Not much otherwise it was difficult for me to finish thisCons Extreme focus on one samurai and obviously preferential treatment of him Glosses over what looks like some of the most interesting parts of the conflicts One chapter focuses on what seems like highly speculative detail about the subjects sex life That part felt very out of place in this context


  10. says:

    As usual John Man does a splendid job with his subject The only problem I have is with one of the photographs used The caption says the photo is of Toshiro Mifune which it is not and that in the movie the Seven Samurai his character leads the samurai against bandits attacking a village Now if John Man had actually seen the movie he would see this was not the case Toshiro's character is also not a ronin but a child of farmers I don't wish to give the whole story line away but if the book is ever republished I hope the errors will be adjusted