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Publisher's 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 listeners say about A Brief History of the Samurai

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  • JHerring
  • 10-07-2017

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.

5 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Joseph
  • 30-12-2014

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

4 people found this helpful

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  • Michael
  • 08-08-2014

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.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Matt
  • 02-09-2014

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.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 26-01-2019

Good summary. Poor attempt at Japanese names.

I would say it's a great book but it was so hard to listen to the narrator screw up the pronunciation. He even says "sami rai". C'mon you can't even pronounce that right?

3 people found this helpful

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  • major
  • 30-07-2014

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

6 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-05-2021

Fascinating look into the fabled samurai

This is one of my all time favorite books to have listened to. The author does a fantastic job of separating the facts from the myths, and explaining the continuous intrigues of the samurai. I would highly recommend this book to anyone curious about military or Japanese history.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 31-08-2020

Beyond excellent

So perfectly written - nuanced, consistent, sophisticated. His work is truly extraordinary. I love Japanese history in part because Clements tells it so thematically and well. Absolute must-read

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  • D. Poydovski
  • 15-06-2020

Interesting, indeed. Must be red by all afectionad

Narator is very good. Story is well presented. Need time to study additionaly names, events, plots etc.
Good read

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  • frank
  • 17-04-2020

beautiful and sad

once again it's pretty amazing to listen to the stories 1 can never get as intimate as when reading on the sharing a book

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  • Tweetingcheetah
  • 27-07-2014

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.

15 people found this helpful

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  • Mr S.M.R.Plocki
  • 03-01-2016

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.

2 people found this helpful

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Profile Image for Ben Toovey
  • Ben Toovey
  • 31-01-2021

Long and boring

Too much detail and very forgettable. I prefer shorter and more captivating stories and just couldn't get into this.

1 person found this helpful

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  • GC
  • 15-07-2021

in Depth chronological work

Having spent time travelling throughout Korea and Japan I was able to associate much of the content to places and perceived historical lifestyles. I much enjoyed the well measured clear narrative but the content may be a little too detailed for a passing interest.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 22-06-2021

Everything is good other than the pronunciation of Japanese words

This was an engaging listen (with respect to history books in general). The performance was good overall but I have one complaint. Please, please(!) do a bit of research before narrating a book to learn how to pronounce names in another language. It shouldn’t be so hard to figure this out, right? And the people involved with making audiobooks should want to do a good job by correctly pronouncing names or words in another language, right? And it isn’t just one or two Japanese words I’m talking about, this book is about Japan! So if it was me who was narrating this book, I wouldn’t just make up pronunciations as I see fit but actually look up how these words are pronounced. Otherwise, it’s just cultural disrespect. It’s not just Western people who listen to these books about other cultures, so please, a little bit more sensitivity about other’s people’s cultures and languages.

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  • Thomas
  • 28-05-2021

A brief review of a brief history of the samurai.

Jonathan keeble is excellent as always and the book was incredible! Could barely stop myself from finishing it in one day.

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  • D. J. McCowan
  • 04-05-2021

An engrossing reading of a complex history

Excellent book and very well read, in a captivating manner like a fireside story. Very enjoyable!

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  • Iain
  • 29-03-2021

A srong starting point for a history of Japan

this book offers a good starting point if you want to know more about the history of Japan and the Samurai.

my one critique is that there must have been recording issues as the main narrators voice drops out to be replaced by another briefly but frequently. both have decent narrtion voices but it is slightly jarring

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  • Jim54
  • 05-03-2021

FAB

Wonderful history of Japan and great narrator. Would have liked more detail on the last chapters, a bit rushed

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Profile Image for Dale Robinson
  • Dale Robinson
  • 27-02-2021

brilliant overview

brilliant overview of the Samurai right up until today. Narration is consistent and lively enough not to be distracting but also not monotonous.

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