From a leading expert in Japanese history, this is one of the first full histories of the art and culture of the Samurai warrior. The Samurai emerged as a warrior caste in Medieval Japan and would have a powerful influence on the history and culture of the country from the next 500 years. Clements also looks at the Samurai wars that tore Japan apart in the 17th and 18th centuries and how the caste was finally demolished in the advent of the mechanized world.
©2010 Jonathan Clements (P)2014 Audible Ltd
Yes but with caveat that it's not about samurai warfare or fighting skills etc. but more just history
Classics, history, historical fiction, marketing, Napoleonic stuff and of course 'Boys own Adventure'. This is my bent. Occasional self help as well.
Well told and superbly narrated this book is an excellent overview of the Samurai. From the start to present day we see the history, the development, and finally the demise. The book shows how the idea of Samurai was used and abused in the 20th Century for political, social and media goals. Jonathan Clements has opinions and views but generally the book covers the topic in a level handed way to make the reader (listener) feel it is balanced and objective. Just over 12 hours long, it is a brief view of the Samurai which if this subject interest you, you'll fly through and find fascinating.
Loved the book and the narrator is excellent.
More focus on the culture of the Samurai
It is probably just me - but I was expecting an indepth look at the Samurai culture as if I wanted to know about say the Spartan culture. It is probably in there but i was asleep by then. This book I guess as the name implies is a history - but it is more about who did what to whom and when etc. etc. As an audiobook I found it very boring - finally stopped listening to it.
This is a great book discussing the rise, peak and fall of the Samurai. Written by a westerner - it's accessible, but avoids western cliches about Japan and does a good job of relating cultural/historic complexities. It's a good overview; rich with the storied characters of Japan's past. The book moves along at a pleasant pace - covering nearly 700 years of history - and doesn't get mired in the innumerable details.
Jon is a great reader with a pleasant voice, accent and intonation. His voice changes for quotations were fun as well. I have no idea if he pronounced the Japanese words/names correctly, since I don't speak Japanese.
"Title is a Misnomer"
It was actually an account of the aristocracy of Japan rather than about the Samurai themselves. A certain amount of background is required to understand the theme but the background became the bulk of this book. I'm sure a book entitle a 'Brief History of European Knights' would be disappointing if it was mainly about the Kings and Queens of Europe.
Anyone who had had a brief lesson in Japanese pronunciation. It was distracting at times.
Not for me, I'm afraid, I found it tedious.
Change the title to a 'Brief History of Japanese Rulers'.
"More than swords and honour, much more"
Yes. As I have said in my other 'brief history' reviews, these books are excellently narrated and draw you in and hold attention.
The tales of the Togugawa dynasty is particularly memorable, but there are many small nuggets of wonder in the history of the Samurai class.
Being a fact based book this question is not really relevent. But it's worth noting the book is very well structured as it leads you through the history of the Samurai class and it is easy to follow, despite the culture shock of being an ignorant Westerner.
No I listened during travelling etc
the book is a history of the Samurai class, there are plenty of battles, honorable and less than honorable tales but this book gives you a great insight into Japan's history and, surprisingly, their modern society.
"Anecdotes bring life to samurai history"
As a Japanese school child, Japanese History was just dates and names, but this audiobook brought these historical people and incidents to life for me. Samurai are all too often depicted through rose tinted glass, but Clements delivers the stories of human foibles with a dry sense of humour, and he got me laughing out loud often.
I have been a massive fan of European history but not of my own country, because of the way history was taught in Japan when I was a child. If this was my History textbook, I would have read it in bed.
The only reason why I gave four stars, not five, for the performance is because Keeble's pronunciation of Japanese words are often incorrect. Otherwise his delivery lets you suck into the drama of Japanese history.
It is well researched, and quotes and anecdotes are so well chosen that you cannot help but be interested in these historical characters and incidents. It is not a long book, but Clements achieves a lot, telling the story of the long era of samurai concisely, and educate and entertain you at the same time. I would recommend this for anyone who is interested in Japan or History.
"A good listen"
Interesting; comprehensive; enjoyable.
I'm a bit of a Japanese history addict and have been since I was seven. Because Japanese history is so rich people tend to only focus on a particular period, such as the Sengoku, Kenmu, or Meiji. This book, however, manages to give a reasonably detailed history of all the periods, which was the best thing I liked about it.
Jonathan Keeble's performance is fine, his voice doesn't become annoying at all. I don't think you get a better experience of the book over reading it though, as his pronunciation of Japanese words isn't very good. However, this isn't too irritating and so doesn't detract from the overall experience.
Yes. I've actually listened to it several times now.
If you're interested in Japanese history you'll enjoy this book, even with the poor pronunciation.
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