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Legends of the Samurai
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Legends of the Samurai

3.69  ·  Rating Details ·  189 Ratings  ·  14 Reviews
Over the decades the reputation of the samurai has grown to mythical proportions, owing to such films as Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai and Yojimbo as well as works such as James Clavell's epic Shogun. In Legends of the Samurai, Hiroaki Sato confronts both the history and the legend of the samurai, untangling the two to present an authentic picture of these legendary warri ...more
Hardcover, 432 pages
Published November 1st 1995 by Overlook Books
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Aug 12, 2016 Quiet rated it did not like it
Shelves: 日本人著者
It took me over a year to read this book.

I'm going to set this straight for anyone interested; this isn't a novel, this isn't history, this isn't a fable:
This is a coffee-table book.

It's not very interesting, and none of the dozens of stories about samurai are engaging, at least on a meaningful level. Most of the stories are little more than a few pages long, and often, as is the nature with hundreds of years old topics, there isn't much fact to go on. Ultimately, Sato's book, which attempts to
C.E. Crowder
Dec 20, 2011 C.E. Crowder rated it really liked it
This isn't a Japanese history text, but it could be a great supplement to one. It's a collection of Japanese legends and histories which feature samurai, presented chronologically but also divided into three parts: tales of individual heroics and other famed acts; tales of war that do verge on relating Japanese history; and a more philosophically themed section that mostly covers events of the Tokugawa period, featuring Musashi's Book of Five Elements and the revenge story of the Forty-Seven Sam ...more
Jan 20, 2014 Kayla rated it really liked it
As with all anthologies a choice was made here by the editor, indeed in this case several choices. The first was to assume that the reader already knew rather a lot about samurai in general, as well as Japanese history, and was simply looking to read some of what was written about them and by them. The second is naturally which excerpts to use. I really enjoyed the pieces of work that were chosen and I found them very interesting to read. This book left me wishing time and time again however tha ...more
Nov 12, 2012 Jesse rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sato writes in the introduction that he set out to write a book about the samurai that consisted in a truer account of the legendary warriors than most tales would have us believe. It consists of a collection of contemporary writings about the samurai (written by observers of the events as they had taken place) from the legends, accompanied by notes on translation, comparison to conflicting accounts, expert opinions on the accuracy or inaccuracy of the various accounts, and perhaps most invaluab ...more
Jan 14, 2013 Geoff rated it it was ok
A collection of short stories and parables from Japanese history. This is not at all what I expected. More primary source than secondary, it's definitive and rich, but it lacks analysis that would make it useful to someone like me. This should be aimed at western scholars of Japanese history. The cover and synopsis imply that it can teach history, and for most of us it utterly can not. It's not a comment on the content so much as the presentation. A misleading cover may have lured me into buying ...more
Jul 25, 2015 Ben rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015-read
All the research.
Nicole C
May 15, 2015 Nicole C rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Am intrigued with the way of the samurai and that was what attracted me to read this book. There are some very interesting stories but the middle drags on for some time and I lost my motivation to finish reading with about 50 pages left.
Aug 07, 2014 Anna rated it liked it
Őszintén szólva nem bánom, hogy sikerült a végére érnem a könyvnek.
Habár érdekel a kultúra, és abból is a szamurájok gondolkodásmódja, viselkedése, nekem ez egy kicsit sok volt, és egy csöppet (sőt, nagyon) száraz.
Ám azt nem vitatom, hogy voltak benne érdekes részek, elgondolkodtató történetek.
Apr 19, 2015 Steve rated it it was ok
I didn't enjoy reading this book, and I am so glad that I am done. The stories are told poorly, yet I did learn something about Samurai culture. The last half of Sato's "legends" seem to be focused on disembowelment and the moral choices of men who chose to end their lives.
Gail Hamilton
Aug 11, 2013 Gail Hamilton rated it really liked it
If you are interested in stories about samurai, including the 47 Ronin, and historical interpretations then this is the book for you. It can get to be tough sledding through all the samurai names (which change over time), but if that is your interest, the this is worth it.
Jessie B.
The subject matter of this book is interesting so I kept going half way through the book, but the style(I am blaming a very poor translation) makes the book dull and at times incomprehensible.
May 16, 2008 Joe rated it really liked it
This books is just a type of mythology/fiction type of history of samurai culture, the era of the Tokugawa, Nobunaga Oda, and other legendary figures during this period of Japanese history.
Anthony Rios
For the informed reader with a background in Japanese folklore, this book is invaluable as a reference to the great works of samurai legendry.
Stephen Hugh
Jul 19, 2009 Stephen Hugh rated it it was amazing
Very interesting look at the mythos of the samurai through literature and historical documents.
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Hiroaki Sato (佐藤 紘彰) born 1942, is a Japanese poet and prolific translator who writes frequently for The Japan Times. He has been called (by Gary Snyder) "perhaps the finest translator of contemporary Japanese poetry into American English."
More about Hiroaki Sato...

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