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Publisher's Summary

Living and dying with bravery and honor is at the heart of Hagakure, a series of texts written by an 18th-century samurai, Yamamoto Tsunetomo. It is a window into the samurai mind, illuminating the concept of bushido (the Way of the Warrior), which dictated how samurai were expected to behave, conduct themselves, live, and die. While Hagakure was for many years a secret text known only to the warrior vassals of the Nabeshima clan to which the author belonged, it later came to be recognized as a classic exposition of samurai thought. The original Hagakure consists of over 1,300 short texts that Tsunetomo dictated to a younger samurai over a seven-year period. William Scott Wilson has selected and translated here 300 of the most representative of those texts to create an accessible distillation of this guide for samurai. No other translator has so thoroughly and eruditely rendered this text into English.

For this edition, Wilson has added a new introduction that casts Hagakure in a different light than ever before. Tsunetomo refers to bushido as "the Way of death", a description that has held a morbid fascination for readers over the years. But in Tsunetomo's time, bushido was a nuanced concept that related heavily to the Zen concept of muga, the "death" of the ego. Wilson's revised introduction gives the historical and philosophical background for that more metaphorical reading of Hagakure, and through this lens, the classic takes on a fresh and nuanced appeal.

©1979, 2002, 2012 English translation by William Scott Wilson. Introduction by William Scott Wilson (P)2014 Audible Inc.

What listeners say about Hagakure

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    4 out of 5 stars

Great Way to Experience the Book Again

I really enjoyed this audible, but I think it's important to note, I've read the book in paper form several times. I have paused to meditate on passages and contemplated the words in depth. Since I have such an ingrained understanding of the book already, this was an enjoyable refresher course for me.

But first time readers should definitely read the words from a book or e-reader screen. Many concepts and understandings in this book are not easy to grasp at first, especially if you are not familiar with ancient Japanese culture going into it. You will need to meditate on the meaning of many passages, and at times look up words in the dictionary to get their full meaning.

You will want to stop the book to further explore topics brought up in it, and audio form is not ideal for any of this. This book is not a novel, it's not a story, it has virtually no cohesiveness. It's like listening to your great, great grandfather jump from topic to topic when talking about World War II. The book has no true beginning or end. You can open it to any page and not feel any more or less lost than you would reading it in order from cover to cover.

Based on what this book is, how it is written, and how it is composed, I believe that audio is not the ideal format for it. But if you have read the book already, it is an excellent way to review the content inside.

106 people found this helpful

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Great narrator!

I feel like this book is only good if you are already interested in feudal Japan. I enjoyed it though. Not really a story as much as a collection of thoughts. The narrator did a great job and was recorded well which definitely helps.

33 people found this helpful

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  • LC
  • 10-14-16

Great insight

I have the written text and have read many times. I purchased this as I have not had time to read much lately and have not been disappointed by the narrators performance.

9 people found this helpful

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Familiarity with terminology needed

I admit to little knowledge of japanese terms. Some books are much harder to understand and follow in audio format. I have found that this book is one of those.

14 people found this helpful

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Mostly about servitude and feudal Japan.

The feudal Japanese concept of "honor" dictated a samurai lifestyle where life lost it's preciousness and an court order, whim or perceived slight could cost you your life. Not what I expected.

2 people found this helpful

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Deep source of wisdom.

Although the key principle of absolute commitment to the lord is difficult to accept, there's still a lot to follow.

5 people found this helpful

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satisfying

for anyone and everyone who loves Bushido and the esoteric knowledge of the pure warriors, this is the book.

15 people found this helpful

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Extreme cultural differences

As an American born & raised, it’s hard for me to embrace some of the core values illustrated by these stories, even though I do have an interest and appreciation for the Japanese culture. For example, hearing about how a samurai beheaded a child for the offense of accidentally stepping on his foot, and then immediately beheaded the child’s mother for daring to touch him... this does not inspire me with feelings of admiration. Only a few chapters later, another child insinuates himself into the household of a Lord, gains his trust and then tries unsuccessfully to assassinate him. The Lord is so impressed with the character of the child that he lets him go. Well, at least he didn’t step on the Lord’s foot, I guess.

Obviously I will admit vast differences in cultural values that may have made it difficult for me to appreciate the lessons behind this collection of stories. I found the majority of them to be unsatisfying, abrupt, and in many cases morally repellant. I think the greatest attribute of this book is in its historical value

12 people found this helpful

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AWESOME

I loved this book! If one seeks to learn Samurai culture and history, this book is for you. It is simply beautifully crafted in its words and wisdom.

6 people found this helpful

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An informative look into the samurai mind

Found extremely useful as research material into the mindset of a samurai in feudal Japan.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Tyler
  • 10-03-16

Samurai

Thought provoking and enlightening read. Well translated and interpreted. Definitely recommend for anybody with an open mind!

2 people found this helpful

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  • Jack
  • 07-15-21

Insightful

Good life lessons
Some stories lost in translation however
If you're looking for moral guidance check it out

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-11-20

A modern interpretation of old text is still old

This was a fascinating listen and gave me all the insights I imagined I would gain from such a book. While the narrator does a great job it is still quite a dry listen in places. Do not let this deter you though, just chose your place to listen to it wisely.

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  • IM1
  • 01-17-20

would be better as physical book

Japanese words are difficult to understand and remember for non Japanese readers/ listeners. would certainly be better as a physical book.
didn't work for me.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 10-19-19

insightful

Book lists short stories on samurai practises to give you an idea on the conduct of the samurai warriors.

many interesting elements and morals which can be brought forward and applied to daily life.

A must reed for the times.

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  • SbS DEFTxSTAR
  • 02-23-19

Just a subtle guide to lifes choices.

I've read this book before and now I've listened to it I certainly found it easier to follow while listening because of The Subtle nuances and language interpretation I've thoroughly enjoyed it well recommended for those like me who are interested in a spiritual walk without being really religious based and well recommended for a guide to life.

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  • Forever hopefull
  • 11-28-17

well read samurai classic

This is a classic samurai text and the narrator's reading of it was very good.

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  • Rebell
  • 09-02-20

interesting

This was an interesting read. A little bit weird and disconnected. There is no "story line" only a collection of things. No concept is expanded on or explained and demonstrated beside similar beliefs/behaviors.

It was a really weird listen. I liked the information but I also arrived at the end a bit... unclear and incomplete.

Great narration.