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Samurai Tales: Courage, Fidelity and Revenge in the Final Years of the Shogun
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Samurai Tales: Courage, Fidelity and Revenge in the Final Years of the Shogun

3.55  ·  Rating Details  ·  33 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
"Samurai Tales" is about the legendary men reborn from the samurai class who fought for the helm of power in 19th century Japan. In an internecine war that was unique in its scope and character, Hillsborough gives us a rare and fascinating look at the men who were willing to sacrifice their lives for their leaders and their country. Names like Sakamoto Ryoma, Kondo Isami a ...more
ebook, 344 pages
Published August 30th 2011 by Tuttle Publishing (first published September 10th 2010)
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Graeme Dunlop
If you're genuinely interested in what real Samurai were like, this is a good place to start. Warning, though: if you have a vivid imagination there is plenty of visceral descriptions here. Blood, guts and death.

I found this fascinating. It's a series of stories and vignettes from the 1860's in Japan, a time of turmoil and national change, rooted in xenophobia and sacrifice and clinging to old ideals and trying to embrace the new.

I think the last chapter should have been the first: "A Brief Hist
M.L. Sparrow
May 24, 2016 M.L. Sparrow rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Occasionally this book felt a bit like reading an essay and wasquite hard going to begin with,especially for someone who doesn't know much about that time period, but once I got into it I really enjoyed it. It's basically a collection of short stories that highlight the Samurai code, with the focus often being onseppuka, which is pretty much suicide, but seen as an honourable way to die.

The politics and all the different players were a bit hard to keep track of at time, but I generallyfound that
Mar 04, 2014 Onoskal rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is quite good, if what you're looking for is a guide to how it went when Meiji Restoration is under way. Beware though for those who have vivid imagination and weak stomach; every gory detail is always included, including spurting bloods and broken bones. It adds to the realism of the story-telling though. The annals of history is not filled by flowers and cheers; it is often paved by the blood and the bones of those who live it.
Aug 13, 2012 Chrissy rated it it was ok
I had highish hopes for this when I picked this up, but was not entirely suprised it did not open well the foreward giving some rather weebish vibes, and from there on decending into boring.

Some of the stories were mildy interesting, but in the end I was glad it was over, and now I think on read Hillsborough's Shinsengumi with aprehension rather than excitement.
CoCo Milardo
May 16, 2014 CoCo Milardo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A well-written, detailed account on the history of the Revolution in Japan. It leaves nothing to the imagination and describes in sometimes gruesome detail how the Samurai died by the sword, either in battle or execution. During some executions, they would test out the sharpness of new swords on criminals hoping it would cut through the hardest part of human body - right across the chest. Sometimes the sword test would be on corpses. Other times, there would be a request to test the sword on a l ...more
Stefanus Andre
Jan 22, 2016 Stefanus Andre rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
* Interesting stories about the last samurai.

* Due to the short stories format, the book becomes repetitive.
Jul 09, 2012 Philip rated it really liked it
A fascinating insight into the last years of the shogunate, as seen through the eyes of the main protagonists on both sides of the struggle for power in 1860s Japan. The tales are an interesting way to bring this period to life - not an historical novel, not an academic study, but something quite different. At the same time this is the drawback of the book, not all tales fit equally well together, and the style of writing is not always fluid. But recommended still, a highly original and accessib ...more
Feb 08, 2013 Hakensio rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is not a normal book about tales, nor is a book that one could simply read like every other book. This is pure essence of how were the years of the samurai during the final period of the Shogun.

The book never leaves you alone. The author explains carefully the samurai society in the introduction, inserts maps to better understand where the stories are located and before every tale explains who shows up and where/when the events take place. Each tale deserves its time to be assimilated and c
Lauren Albert
An interesting collection of tales of real-life Samurai that grows dull by the end. Hillsborough certainly helps establish a "feel" for the lives of Samurai by using actual true stories rather than a straight narrative history. But the lack of coherence made me bored by the end. I did learn from it though and certainly someone with a particular interest in the Samurai of in Japanese history would enjoy reading it.
Quicksilver Quill
Nov 02, 2015 Quicksilver Quill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this collection of samurai tales dealing with the period leading up to the Meiji Restoration. Hillsborough has a nice way of taking you back in time and putting you in the midst of the action. It's an interesting read for anyone who wants to learn more about the samurai during a time of great change in Japan when the old ways and traditions were about to come to an end.
Kathryn O'Halloran
Jan 27, 2013 Kathryn O'Halloran rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japan
If you are interested in Japanese history, this is an easy read. It crosses the line between fact and fiction with the author imagining how events played out and adding a storyteller's details. In other parts he retells stories that have been passed down about historical characters. Much better than a dry history book.
May 12, 2011 Andy rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
While I do like the subject matter, it lacks style and there's little to no personal touch in it. Informative, but very dry and lacking of any charisma.
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My books tell the story of the samurai revolution that spanned the third quarter of the 19th century (aka Meiji Restoration). The samurai revolution transformed Japan from a country of hundreds of feudal domains under the control of the Tokugawa Shogun, into a modern industrialized world power under the unifying rule of the Emperor. It is the historical era that Japanese writers generally refer to ...more
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