Forrest Norvell's Reviews > Shogun: A Novel of Japan

Shogun by James Clavell
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's review
Aug 04, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: japan, historical-fiction, goat-choker
Read in July, 2010

Although this book isn't perfect (large chunks of expository explanation somewhat clumsily dropped into dialog, a tendency to compress 250 years of Tokugawa bakufu history into the end of the Sengoku / the beginning of the Tokugawa shogunate, alarming amounts of melodrama), it does a great job of portraying a completely alien philosophy and sharply limning a very different era (note that said era may never have actually happened). As interesting for its stark portrayal of the violent differences between the Catholic and Protestant approaches to trade, colonialism, and proselytization in Asia as it is in the portrayal of a marooned European "innocent" embroiled in the politics of the Era of Warring States.

As a footnote, the actual personages involved in the formation of the Tokugawa shogunate are at least as interesting, and as much larger than life, as their counterparts described in the book. The actual events in which they participated may have been considerably more quotidian (and not so blood-drenched) as the events depicted within the novel, but a lot of what they did was at least as thrilling to people interested in the history of the region.
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