Sunday, 13 February 2011

FACTUAL REVIEW: Samurai - John Man

Release Date: 02/02/11


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 fighting samurai still inspires us today. In John Man's new book, we discover the truth behind the legend. From 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 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.


John Man is a factual author with a gift. He can take any subject matter, explore it thoroughly and present his research to the reader in such a way that they have very good recall in regard to the information even months later. You would not believe how many quiz questions John has helped me answer.

Here, in his latest book, is the chance to get to know and understand the warriors of Japan, the Samurai whose ideals, beliefs and honour system have been idealised by the books chief subject, Saigo Takamori. Beautifully detailed, this book is perhaps one of the most definitive titles by a western author and when backed by John’s literal voice to add life to the story you know it’s a book that will fascinate readers for a long time to come. Definitely a book that I’d recommend especially to authors who seek to get inside the mind of perhaps one of the most renowned warriors of all time.

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