Ray's Reviews > The Lone Samurai: The Life of Miyamoto Musashi

The Lone Samurai by William Scott Wilson
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's review
Nov 15, 2008

it was amazing
bookshelves: historical-fiction
Recommended for: fans of japanese history & swordsmanship
Read in November, 2008 , read count: 1

Miyamoto Mushashi, Japanese kensai (sword-saint), definitely one of the greatest swordsmen of all time. During his first 30 or so years, he fought in over 60 duels, loosing none. He also took part in 4 major battles. In his later years he took up painting, sculpting, even writing (his classic The Book Of Five Rings is still in wide use today). He eventually died in his 60s of old age.

But perhaps the most impressive fact is that he did this all as a masterless, wandering swordsman (shugyosha). In medieval Japan, with it's rigid social structure, Musashi managed to live his entire life as a free man, occasionally accepting guest status under a lord but nothing more.

The author (who is the one responsible for translating Hagakure into English) not only tells the tale of Miyamoto Musashi, but takes time to tell the other side when there are alternate accounts of the same event. He also goes into great detail on the artists and monks that Musashi met during his lifetime, and speculates on meetings that probably happened but were not documented.

As an added bonus, the book also includes an extensive chapter on dramatic work about the life of Musashi, not just films but Kabuki theater and the like.
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