The Japanese Warrior's [Unofficial] Manual
Mem. Ed. $5.99
Pub. Ed. $19.95
You pay $0.25
Stephen Turnbull brings his authoritative knowledge of the samurai to this witty, informative guide. Presented in the guise of a training manual ostensibly written by a fictional samurai lord, the text supplies lively and engaging information on every aspect of the 17th-century Japanese warrior class.
Following a historical summary, an overview of Japan’s position at the turn of the 17th century, and brief biographical sketches of notable samurai, Turnbull describes the full range of martial skills and rituals that a young samurai needed in order to master Bushido, the Way of the Warrior. A samurai’s knowledge encompassed both military expertise (arms and armor; strategies for laying siege to a castle) and cultural norms (conducting a tea ceremony; recognizing the Great Lords of Japan).
Though the book reflects Turnbull’s painstaking modern scholarship, its colorful, occasionally humorous prose style will make this a favorite of general readers as well as Japanese history buffs. Wise quotes from 17th-century Japanese sources enliven the text, while beautiful illustrations (including 100 wood block-style prints) enhance this step-by-step guide to life as a samurai.
Hardcover Book : 192 pages
Publisher: Thames & Hudson Inc. ( April 01, 2012 )
Item #: 13-513305
Product Dimensions: 5.25 x 8.0 inches
Product Weight: 15.0 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
Not quite what I was expecting but found it to be a quick, enjoyable, and informative read.
This book is highly readable and enjoyable. It leaves the reader with a very good understanding of Samurai life, behaviors and attitudes. Perhaps not the most scholarly book but informative just the same.
Of the series of "unofficial manual" books the author has produced, this one comes the closest to maintaining the tone and style of a "unofficial" manual that would/could have been issued to the target audience. He's captured the style of Japanese books of the period, and the details are accurate and complete, as far as it goes.
Unfortunately, the success in this area is at the expense of depth in the material. The other books in the series failed in the presentation, but had deep value in the more scholarly details of the time and role. This one is much less detailed about the society and complex interactions of Japanese society with the samurai. It would be perfect for a young adult looking for information about pre-Meiji Japan, but if you're looking for deeper info (such as is commonly used in the SCA for "background" of the period), you're probably better off looking for more focused books on great figures (Miyamoto Musashi would be a good one to start with, or Ieyasu Tokugawa).
Fun read, but not a good reference book.
Reviewer: David B