From a leading expert in Japanese history, this is one of the first full histories of the art and culture of the Samurai warrior. The Samurai emerged as a warrior caste in Medieval Japan and would have a powerful influence on the history and culture of the country from the next 500 years. Clements also looks at the Samurai wars that tore Japan apart in the 17th and 18th centuries and how the caste was finally demolished in the advent of the mechanized world.
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- Katharina Wagner
Quick overview of the history of the samurai
So, as the title of the book should already tell you, it's a brief history of the samurai. And it was - 12 hours of listening for about a thousand years of history. Shortening history to such a short amount of pages or time read is an incredibly difficult task, and Jonathan Clements did a good job with it.
I have been on somewhat of a Sengoku Era kick lately and this takes up most of the time of the book as well, compared to other epochs. But the early beginnings of the samurai were interesting as well - I was familiar with the history in very broad strokes, but having it get told in slightly more detail to fill in some blank spots in my own history knowledge was very good
But - it's just a brief overview. As such, it is fun to get a rough overview, but it is lacking in depth. I look forward to reading up more about the topic and I want to read up more - but the bibliography is sadly not there. I didn't expect it to be read out - who wants to listen to that? - but I would have been happy if there would have been a pdf of the Bibliography for further reading.
Jonathan Keeble had a lovely voice and read the book very well. I loved the intonations of the direct quotes and how he changed his voice to stress them.
What I didn't like was the pronunciation of the Japanese names. I can't speak for the Chinese and Korean names, but the Japanese terms were... not good. I hate to be that guy who gets all huffy about it but it was distracting at best, hurting my ears at worst. I don't have the best pronunciation of Japanese either, I do know enough to do small talk, just to cover my own credentials.
Worst offender was Ieyasu - the Ie part of his name specifically. He pronounced it Ai-ee-yasu or something and that's just plain bad. When the name came up the first time I had to go back and listen to it again. I'm not putting it solely on Keeble here - having a reading guide provided by the publisher for those names might have been a good idea. He doesn't need to learn Japanese just to read a book.
Aside from the Japanese pronunciation issues I had, I will definitely check out more works read by him. He was an excellent narrator.