Sunday, May 8, 2011

Books on the Samurai

This is a selection of books on the samurai.

Shinsengumi: The Shogun's Last Samurai Corps by Romulus Hillsborough. In this vivid historical narrative of the Shinsengumi, the first ever in the English language, author Romulus Hillsborough uses letters, memoirs, interviews, and eyewitness accounts to paint a provocative and thrilling picture of a fascinating period in Japanese history. The Tokugawa Shogunate, which ruled Japan until the late 1800s, stayed in power for more than two centuries. Their fall was one of he most important events in Asian history. Also known as the Meiji Restoration, the shogun's ouster began as a reaction against the willingness to "collaborate" with the West. Many samurai took the shogun's position as a sign of weakness. These samurai plotted to overthrow the shogun and restore the emperor to his ancient seat of power. Murder, assassination, and intimidation soon followed. By the end of 1862, hordes of renegade samurai had transformed Japan's capital streets into a sea of blood.

Art of the Samurai: Japanese Arms and Armor, 1156 – 1868 edited by Morihiro Ogawa. The arms and equipment of the samurai are widely recognised as masterpieces of steel, silk, and lacquer. This extensively illustrated catalogue is published in conjunction with an exhibition of the same name held at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York from October 21, 2009, to January 10, 2010. The works featured in the catalogue - swords, sword mountings and fittings, armour and helmets, saddles, textiles, and paintings - include 34 officially designated National Treasures and 65 Important Cultural Properties, and are dated from the 5th to the early 20th century. Many of the greatest Japanese swordsmiths are represented in this volume, from early masters to Edo-period smiths. With glossary and index.

Training the Samurai Mind: A Bushido Sourcebook translated and edited by Thomas Cleary. The ethos of the samurai is known as Bushido, the Way of the Warrior-Knight. Here, Thomas Cleary presents a rich collection of writings on bushido by warriors, scholars, political advisors, and educators from the fifteenth century through the nineteenth century that provide a comprehensive, historically rich view of samurai life and philosophy. The writings deal with a broad range of subjects - from military strategy and political science, to personal discipline and character development. With glossary and bibliography.

The Art of the Samurai: Yamamoto Tsunetomo's Hagakure - The New Illustrated Edition of the Classic Japanese Warrior Code translated by Barry Steben. This new translation of the classic Japanese warrior code "The Art of the Samurai" by Yamamoto Tsunetomo (1659-1719) is presented in a richly illustrated format. The introduction discusses the history and many of the concepts of the work which had and has so much influence on many Japanese concepts and policies. With explanatory endnotes, a chronology of Japanese history, reading list and index.

Samurai Armies 1467-1649 by Stephen Turnbull. The Sengoku The Jidai, 'Age of Warring States', is the age of the samurai - the military aristocracy of Japan. This period, which lasted from the outbreak of the Onin War in 1467 to the establishment of the Tokugawa Shogunate in the early 17th century, was a period of endemic warfare, when a lack of central control led to constant struggles between the daimyo, 'great names', who sought to extend the influence of their families through political and military means. This book examines the complicated nature of family and clan that governed so much of the initial organisation of the armies, how this changed over the period and how battlefield tactics developed over a series of major encounters such as Nagashino and Sekigahara. With maps and colour illustrations.

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