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Samurai: The Weapons and Spirit of the Japanese Warrior

1 rating: 3.0
A book by Clive Sinclaire

This is a lavishly illustrated introduction to the martial art and artistry of the samurai, the ancient Japanese military class that generated a unique culture-within-a-culture. While the visual emphasis is on the intricately designed weaponry and armor … see full wiki

Tags: Books
Author: Clive Sinclaire
Publisher: Lyons Press
1 review about Samurai: The Weapons and Spirit of the Japanese...

Most useful for historians and collectors...

  • Jun 14, 2008
Rating:
+3
I happened to run across the book Samurai: The Weapons and Spirit of the Japanese Warrior by Clive Sinclaire at the library, and it caught my eye. I've long been fascinated by Japanese culture, and I thought this would be an interesting read related to the true essence of a samurai's existence. It's not the most riveting material I've ever read, but it's definitely comprehensive and valuable if you are deeply interested in Japanese weaponry for historical or collection purposes.

Contents:
What is a Samurai?; The Samurai's Armour; A Brief history of Japanese Swords; The Sword of the Samurai (Nihon-to); Polearms (Yari, Naginata, and Nagamaki); Archery (Yumi and Ya); Guns of the Samurai (Tanegashima); Glossary; Bibliography; Index

The vast amount of the material here deals with the sword, the most common and important part of a samurai's arsenal. Sinclaire goes into quite a bit of detail related to the history of swordsmithing over the years, as well as the different styles of swords that evolved over time. I hadn't ever given much thought as to how evolving forms of armed combat caused the sword to shift from stabbing to slicing instruments. Sinclaire also includes a large number of illustrations and photos to document much of his information. Seeing sword blades stripped of all their ornaments gave me a greater appreciation for what care and craftsmanship went into them. If I were ever to start collecting Japanese weaponry, this would be a book that would reside on my shelf. But from the perspective of a relatively uninformed reader, the material was a bit hard to follow with all the detailed historical references. I'm guessing it was due to the unfamiliar Japanese names, and the difficulty that a Western reader would have in keeping them straight when presented with hundreds of years of history in a relatively short number of pages.

If this is an area of interest for you, it'd be hard to go wrong by reading this book. If you're only mildly interested in the subject, you'll probably end up skimming by the end and studying the detailed photographs.

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