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Summary

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.

©2010 Jonathan Clements (P)2014 Audible Ltd

What members say

Average customer ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Anecdotes bring life to samurai history

Any additional comments?

As a Japanese school child, Japanese History was just dates and names, but this audiobook brought these historical people and incidents to life for me. Samurai are all too often depicted through rose tinted glass, but Clements delivers the stories of human foibles with a dry sense of humour, and he got me laughing out loud often.

I have been a massive fan of European history but not of my own country, because of the way history was taught in Japan when I was a child. If this was my History textbook, I would have read it in bed.

The only reason why I gave four stars, not five, for the performance is because Keeble's pronunciation of Japanese words are often incorrect. Otherwise his delivery lets you suck into the drama of Japanese history.

It is well researched, and quotes and anecdotes are so well chosen that you cannot help but be interested in these historical characters and incidents. It is not a long book, but Clements achieves a lot, telling the story of the long era of samurai concisely, and educate and entertain you at the same time. I would recommend this for anyone who is interested in Japan or History.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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Dry

Would you try another book written by Jonathan Clements or narrated by Jonathan Keeble?

Yes, but I would read any reviews first.

Who was your favorite character and why?

N/a

What aspect of Jonathan Keeble’s performance might you have changed?

None really.

You didn’t love this book--but did it have any redeeming qualities?

It was interesting in places but it listed lots of facts without being thought provoking.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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An Easy Listen

My second non fiction audiobook and a definite improvement on the first. An easy listen with the reader bring the right inflections, where needed.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Ryuto
  • Sheffield, United Kingdom
  • 22-10-14

Title is a Misnomer

What disappointed you about A Brief History of the Samurai?

It was actually an account of the aristocracy of Japan rather than about the Samurai themselves. A certain amount of background is required to understand the theme but the background became the bulk of this book. I'm sure a book entitle a 'Brief History of European Knights' would be disappointing if it was mainly about the Kings and Queens of Europe.

Who might you have cast as narrator instead of Jonathan Keeble?

Anyone who had had a brief lesson in Japanese pronunciation. It was distracting at times.

You didn’t love this book--but did it have any redeeming qualities?

Not for me, I'm afraid, I found it tedious.

Any additional comments?

Change the title to a 'Brief History of Japanese Rulers'.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

More than swords and honour, much more

Would you consider the audio edition of A Brief History of the Samurai to be better than the print version?

Yes. As I have said in my other 'brief history' reviews, these books are excellently narrated and draw you in and hold attention.

Who was your favorite character and why?

The tales of the Togugawa dynasty is particularly memorable, but there are many small nuggets of wonder in the history of the Samurai class.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

Being a fact based book this question is not really relevent. But it's worth noting the book is very well structured as it leads you through the history of the Samurai class and it is easy to follow, despite the culture shock of being an ignorant Westerner.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No I listened during travelling etc

Any additional comments?

the book is a history of the Samurai class, there are plenty of battles, honorable and less than honorable tales but this book gives you a great insight into Japan's history and, surprisingly, their modern society.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Joseph
  • 30-12-14

Well narrated

Absolutely loved this audio book. The details of the samurai and the period associated with certain characters were accurate and well presented.
ありがとう

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Michael
  • 08-08-14

An Excellent History of the Samurai

Well told and superbly narrated this book is an excellent overview of the Samurai. From the start to present day we see the history, the development, and finally the demise. The book shows how the idea of Samurai was used and abused in the 20th Century for political, social and media goals. Jonathan Clements has opinions and views but generally the book covers the topic in a level handed way to make the reader (listener) feel it is balanced and objective. Just over 12 hours long, it is a brief view of the Samurai which if this subject interest you, you'll fly through and find fascinating.
Loved the book and the narrator is excellent.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Lord Kinbote
  • 10-07-17

Excellent history of Edo period Japan.

Excellent history of Edo period Japan and of Samurai history in detail. Narration well done. Years of material to digest and research.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Matt
  • 02-09-14

A solid, brief overview.

What did you like best about this story?

This is a great book discussing the rise, peak and fall of the Samurai. Written by a westerner - it's accessible, but avoids western cliches about Japan and does a good job of relating cultural/historic complexities. It's a good overview; rich with the storied characters of Japan's past. The book moves along at a pleasant pace - covering nearly 700 years of history - and doesn't get mired in the innumerable details.

What about Jonathan Keeble’s performance did you like?

Jon is a great reader with a pleasant voice, accent and intonation. His voice changes for quotations were fun as well. I have no idea if he pronounced the Japanese words/names correctly, since I don't speak Japanese.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • A User
  • 30-07-14

Not what it seems

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

Yes but with caveat that it's not about samurai warfare or fighting skills etc. but more just history

5 of 9 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • TP
  • 12-05-18

Very descriptive

I spent several weeks listening to the stories and accounts of the samurai detailed in this book, I would recommend it to anyone interested in the historical timeline of Japan and their Samurai warriors

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • James A. Long
  • 09-05-17

Meh

Managed to make a fascinating time period sound quite boring. No small feat. Good narrator.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • John A. Ryan
  • 17-05-16

Probably should get a 5 it is a bit hard to follow

Very interesting study of the Samurai and I don't know if there is a better way to distinguish between the player's but I did have to back up and review the reading a number of times.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • BB Bray
  • 13-06-14

As Audio Book - Boring

What would have made A Brief History of the Samurai better?

More focus on the culture of the Samurai

Would you ever listen to anything by Jonathan Clements again?

No

Any additional comments?

It is probably just me - but I was expecting an indepth look at the Samurai culture as if I wanted to know about say the Spartan culture. It is probably in there but i was asleep by then. This book I guess as the name implies is a history - but it is more about who did what to whom and when etc. etc. As an audiobook I found it very boring - finally stopped listening to it.

3 of 10 people found this review helpful