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Hagakure: The Secret Wisdom of the Samurai Paperback – May 27, 2014
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"Dr. Bennett possesses a profound knowledge of, and deep insight into, the world of Japanese bushido. This expertise has been enhanced by his extensive practical experience of the traditional martial arts of Japan, and his proficiency in this domain is highly acclaimed." —Tetsuo Yamaori, former Director of the International Research Center for Japanese Studies
"[Alex Bennett] is the very best writer on martial arts alive today and [his] work needs to be showcased to the general public." —Don Warrener, President, Budo International
"[A] strong point is a scholarly and succinct introduction that grounds the work in historical and social context, equipping the reader with a cultural map of Yamamoto's world. Footnotes provide valuable background and add resonance throughout, keeping names and familial relations straight, highlighting pertinent cross-references and generally rendering the work accessible to contemporary readers." —The Japan Times
"…the most impressive part of the book for us was Bennett's introductory chapter…It puts the Hagakure into its proper historical and social setting as well as examining 'bushido' […] with a critical eye and a look at how Jocho's life experiences and psychology is reflected in the work—and does so elegantly and brilliantly. This translation is well worth picking up just on the strength of this chapter." —TheShogunsHouse.com blog
About the Author
- Publisher : Tuttle Publishing (May 27, 2014)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 288 pages
- ISBN-10 : 4805311983
- ISBN-13 : 978-4805311981
- Item Weight : 10 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.13 x 0.8 x 8 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #26,037 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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I really wanted to like this book. I love translations of historical Japanese, but there's a very fine line that depends entirely on who is doing the translating. Sometimes they read more like fiction, painting vivid imagery and sucking you back in time right into feudal Japan. Other times they read like college textbooks, overly detailed and getting bogged down in every little aspect that constantly interrupts your engagement. This book kind of rides that line but definitely leans towards the latter.
I have a lot of respect for the author, his breadth of knowledge in regards to this is on a level I can never hope to achieve, but his writing style just doesn't flow as nicely as I wanted it to. Reading this is mentally exhausting. I can only do a few pages at a time before I feel so fatigued that I need to go and watch tv or do something braindead to give myself a rest. Some sections are worse than others, often you'll come across pages that are 75% footnotes and you're constantly darting back and forth to find what he is referencing.
If I feel like being studious I'll bust this out but it's definitely not an everyday read. Your experience may vary, Overall its a cheaply priced book and I would still recommend adding it to your collection, but its more informative/educational than it is fun and entertaining.
In terms of the book itself, it was different than I expected. I'd known about the book for sometime, yet never pored through it. As a longtime martial artist, I felt some kind of calling to read it, as I'm sure many others have as well. Plus, I've always had a fascination with samurai and feudal Japan. But enough about me.
I found the book simple yet deep. It's full of many accounts and stories which teach how a samurai should act (and sometimes should NOT act) as well slightly cryptic tales, of which one decides their own interpretation of. It can be a little repetitious, but perhaps that's one hidden tool behind it.
At times, I couldn't help but feel that I was reading the book somewhat out of context. Although, footnotes are provided, I can't say for certain whether the book can be taken in the utmost literal sense. However, there is surely wisdom to gain from each book, which can certainly benefit a modern-day individual. It's up to you to decide what to take away from it, I suppose.
Not a bad book, but you'll have to put in a little work with this one in order to get results. If anything, your understanding of samurai way of life will be enhanced. I think, anyway ...
I mean, I understand that maybe the best thing to do in a fight is to go all out with all your strength, might, and speed. But it says that you shouldn't back away from a fight, you should jump in right away lest you lose the best chance to act. Forget about planning an attack, just get on with it. And if you die that way, there is no shame, because at least you died in an 'heroic' act. Sure, the ultimate honor for a Samurai was to die in battle...but wouldn't you want to plan and strategize so that your side is sure to win? Or how about when he says not to spend money on so many things, and only buy what is absolutely necessary to live. But then goes on to say that he despises young people that don't spend money on extravagances; mainly for other people, but still.
A lot of times the author just sounds like an old man that is lamenting changing society. Even 300 years ago they were complaining that the younger generations were losing their hard work ethic and morals!
I couldn't bring myself to finish it. Partly because it is made up of a bunch of short sayings and stories, and is thus difficult to read much in one sitting, and partly because it just doesn't hold any interest. I spent more time with "The Book of Five Rings", even though that is also all about Samurai spirit and training.
Top reviews from other countries
As well as a strange collection of historical snippets, general code of conduct and downright humourous interpretations of Japanese history and culture.
The information in this book is very powerful and encouraging.