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Official Samurai History Book List and Discussion

AnimalSquabbles
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5:57 AM - Mar 08, 2018 #1

I'm fascinated by the Mongols and the Sengoku period of Japan. I have been reading/watching every book/video I come across in regards to both topics for a long time now. I've recently started to branch out in order to learn more about the onin and genpei war and my search has led me to stumble upon this community. I've now discovered a few books i never heard of prior to finding this community, i also own books i dont see mentioned on here.

I'd like to consolidate all book discussion into this one hub for anyone like myself who's looking to pick up books. Whether you're looking for books on a certain topic, sharing your collection, or reviewing a current read, all book discussion is welcome.

CURRENTLY READING "In Little Need of Divine Intervention" by Thomas D. Conlan. I believe i've seen Conlan mentioned on here before. Anyway, Takezaki Suenaga fought in both Mongol invasions of Japan and had scrolls commissioned to depict his actions in both engagements. This reprints his scrolls with translation into english. Just started today and am thrilled it exists.

WANT As some of you may have seen, I very much want an english translation of the "Koyo Gunkan". Until that is a thing, my attention is on "The Chronicles of Nobunaga" by Ota Gyuichi and translated into english by J.S.A. Elisonas and J.P Lamers. The price being in the $200-$300 will delay that though :(

General Questions
- i've read "Tokugawa Ieyasu: Shogun" by Conrad Totman but a book with the same title by Sadler seems to be the most referenced book in regards to Ieyasu, any comparitive insights?

- any english books focused on Honda Tadakatsu?

BOOKS ON THE MONGOL INVASIONS OF JAPAN

"Ghenko, The Mongol Invasion of Japan" by Nakaba Yamada
Possibly the most indepth, however a good portion of it is on the relationship between the Mongols and Korea.

"Khubilai Khan, His Life and Times" by Morris Rossabi
Has a chapter covering Khubilai's failed invasions of Japan then another retrospective on whether or not his failed invasions of Japan and Java were a result of his poor decision making while falling into an alcoholic depression following the death of his favorite wife and son.

"Khubilai Khan's Lost Fleet" by James P Delgado
Enjoyable read that covers the invasions as well as the search and discoveries of the sunken Mongol Armada ships
Last edited by AnimalSquabbles on 5:09 AM - Sep 05, 2018, edited 3 times in total.
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ltdomer98
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5:47 PM - Mar 08, 2018 #2

AnimalSquabbles wrote:CURRENTLY READING "In Little Need of Divine Intervention" by Thomas D. Conlan. I believe i've seen Conlan mentioned on here before.
Yeah, he's a hack. Totally knows nothing. :lulz: (He's my PhD advisor).
wrote:Until that is a thing, my attention is on "The Chronicles of Nobunaga" by Ota Gyuichi and translated into english by J.S.A. Elisonas and J.P Lamers. The price being in the $200-$300 will delay that though :(
It's good. That said, they suffer from an infatuation with Ota Gyuichi much like Fujimoto Masayuki does. There are some problems I've found with the translation (as with any translation, to be fair), though the only part I've really looked at in detail to compare is the section on Nagashino, and I can't fairly expect them to interpret things the same way I would. They do at least try to think about which parts of Gyuichi's account are good and which aren't (the earliest parts are almost useless in terms of "facts.")

wrote:- i've read "Tokugawa Ieyasu: Shogun" by Conrad Totman but a book with the same title by Sadler seems to be the most referenced book in regards to Ieyasu, any comparitive insights?
Can't stand the Totman book. Sadler is so dated it's comic, but everyone in English ends up copying him for a long time. Morgan Pitelka's Spectacular Accumulation is good but not a bio of Ieyasu per se. The academic trend is to get away from Big Man Biographies so I'm not sure if anyone's going to tackle him anytime soon.
wrote:- any english books focused on Honda Tadakatsu?

None that I'm aware of.

wrote:"Ghenko, The Mongol Invasion of Japan" by Nakaba Yamada
Possibly the most indepth, however a good portion of it is on the relationship between the Mongols and Korea.

"Khubilai Khan's Lost Fleet" by James P Delgado
Enjoyable read that covers the invasions as well as the search and discoveries of the sunken Mongol Armada ships
These two are on my list to get to eventually, so post a thread with your thoughts if you like.

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AnimalSquabbles
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6:04 PM - Mar 14, 2018 #3

ltdomer98 wrote: These two are on my list to get to eventually, so post a thread with your thoughts if you like.
Well i'd like to re read them before going into an actual review, but ill briefly share my overall takeaways.

Ghenko was somewhat underwhelming to me. Maybe i put my expectations too high though. After reading the OSPREY campaign book on the Mongol Invasions of Japan, i found the Ghenko and figured it to be the premier source for info on Mongols vs Japan. Instead, a third of the book is on Korea (Koryu) interaction with China and the Mongols. Another third of the book begins the preliminary dealings with Mongols and Japan correspondence with Korea as intermediary. Once, you get past that it does go into very deep detail on the skirmishes that happened on the Mongols campaigns in Japan. A bit of a dry read though.

Lost Fleet was an easy read. It jumps around covering multiple topics which include the 3 waves of individuals that set out in search of the fleet, ship construction (especially at time of the invasion), the expeditions and discoveries and the invasion itself. The narrative analysis seems to validate that the invasion/ships were poorly made in a rush and led to their failure.

Both seem essential if you interested in the Mongol invasion.
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AnimalSquabbles
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5:03 PM - May 17, 2018 #4

I'm currently reading "Battle of Okehazama 1560: Hell Awaits" by Les Paterson. I'm not sure what this book is. It's obviously based on a true historic event. All the people in the book, such as Oda Nobunaga, Takeda Shingen etc were real life individuals. The descriptions of events and battles are historically true... but there's dialogue and conversations between the characters as if it were a novel. There's no possible way to know what was said word for word in these private moments. Plus, Imagawa Yoshimoto has been confronted by his brothers ghost several times.
Last edited by AnimalSquabbles on 5:04 PM - May 17, 2018, edited 1 time in total.
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10:25 AM - Aug 09, 2018 #5

AnimalSquabbles wrote:I'm currently reading "Battle of Okehazama 1560: Hell Awaits" by Les Paterson. I'm not sure what this book is. It's obviously based on a true historic event. All the people in the book, such as Oda Nobunaga, Takeda Shingen etc were real life individuals. The descriptions of events and battles are historically true... but there's dialogue and conversations between the characters as if it were a novel. There's no possible way to know what was said word for word in these private moments. Plus, Imagawa Yoshimoto has been confronted by his brothers ghost several times.
I'm pretty sure it's meant to be fiction.
Les is (was?) a regular here in the Archives. I think he goes by "owari no utsuke". I vaguely recall him mentioning he was writing a novel at some point.

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AnimalSquabbles
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3:54 PM - Aug 10, 2018 #6

hashiba_hideyoshi wrote:
AnimalSquabbles wrote:I'm currently reading "Battle of Okehazama 1560: Hell Awaits" by Les Paterson. I'm not sure what this book is. It's obviously based on a true historic event. All the people in the book, such as Oda Nobunaga, Takeda Shingen etc were real life individuals. The descriptions of events and battles are historically true... but there's dialogue and conversations between the characters as if it were a novel. There's no possible way to know what was said word for word in these private moments. Plus, Imagawa Yoshimoto has been confronted by his brothers ghost several times.
I'm pretty sure it's meant to be fiction.
Les is (was?) a regular here in the Archives. I think he goes by "owari no utsuke". I vaguely recall him mentioning he was writing a novel at some point.
Thanks. I wasn't too familiar with the term, but i guess "historical fiction" fits.
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owari no utsuke
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5:28 PM - Aug 10, 2018 #7

I am still here. The book is a historical fiction. The names of the area and KIA list is from the Okehazama locals. I am part of the Arimatsu Okehazama Preservation Committee as well. I know the locals. I visit the battlefield and the research center on a yearly basis. As for Yoshimoto's brother's ghost, found that in a history magazine Saigen Nihonshi April, 30th, 2002. Local historian now 100 years old Wataru Kajino has something on it too in Jimoto no Koro Katatru Okehazama Shimatsuki.

As for English readings, I am reading Neil McMullins 1977 thesis Oda Nobunaga and the Buddhist Institutions. He published a book in 1984, Buddhism and the State in Sixteenth Century Japan. I did send Kitsuno a copy of the thesis.

Yes, I am working on another one, Nobunaga and Dosan (Saito Dosan). Blessed by the Okehazama board for taking me to the Muraki Castle site and Teramoto area.
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Parallel Pain
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5:13 AM - Aug 11, 2018 #8

Are you going to use the traditional narrative (that Dosan was an oil merchant) or the new research (Dosan's father started out as a monk, but became a powerful retainer of Mino's Nagai family, and Dosan continued to climb from there)
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owari no utsuke
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1:53 PM - Aug 11, 2018 #9

I am going the traditional route and explain it in the epilogue. The Rokkaku letter about Dosan's father was written four years after the Battle of Nagargawa (1560). Yoshitatsu, in my opinion still had bad blood about his father. That same year, 1560, Yoshitatsu marries his daughter to the Rokkaku. Since it is possible that Yoshitatsu is the senior partner of the deal, he probably ordered the Rokkaku to write up something about his grandfather to destroy Dosan's legacy. I actually discussed this with the monk at Jozaiji Temple in Gifu. He said no one has ever thought about that.

It gets better. Earlier this year I found out that the Rokkaku sent an army to help out Nobunaga at the Battle of Okehazama. It was discovered that one of the Rokkaku's retainers was killed in action and some of the relics are at Chofukuji Temple near the Arimatsu Okehazama Battlefield. Yoshitatsu probably knew this and made a deal with the Rokkaku to keep Nobunaga in check.
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AnimalSquabbles
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8:35 PM - Aug 11, 2018 #10

owari no utsuke wrote:I am still here. The book is a historical fiction. The names of the area and KIA list is from the Okehazama locals. I am part of the Arimatsu Okehazama Preservation Committee as well. I know the locals. I visit the battlefield and the research center on a yearly basis. As for Yoshimoto's brother's ghost, found that in a history magazine Saigen Nihonshi April, 30th, 2002. Local historian now 100 years old Wataru Kajino has something on it too in Jimoto no Koro Katatru Okehazama Shimatsuki.

As for English readings, I am reading Neil McMullins 1977 thesis Oda Nobunaga and the Buddhist Institutions. He published a book in 1984, Buddhism and the State in Sixteenth Century Japan. I did send Kitsuno a copy of the thesis.

Yes, I am working on another one, Nobunaga and Dosan (Saito Dosan). Blessed by the Okehazama board for taking me to the Muraki Castle site and Teramoto area.
Awesome. Despite my confusion, i did enjoy it. What was the source of "Hell Awaits!"? Is that quote attributed to Nobunaga somewhere. Powerful quote im thinking on embroidered on my jiu jitsu belt.
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owari no utsuke
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9:26 PM - Aug 11, 2018 #11

"Hell Awaits" is a song by the metal band Slayer. Just had a nice ring to it.
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Parallel Pain
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3:21 AM - Aug 12, 2018 #12

owari no utsuke wrote:I am going the traditional route and explain it in the epilogue. The Rokkaku letter about Dosan's father was written four years after the Battle of Nagargawa (1560). Yoshitatsu, in my opinion still had bad blood about his father. That same year, 1560, Yoshitatsu marries his daughter to the Rokkaku. Since it is possible that Yoshitatsu is the senior partner of the deal, he probably ordered the Rokkaku to write up something about his grandfather to destroy Dosan's legacy. I actually discussed this with the monk at Jozaiji Temple in Gifu. He said no one has ever thought about that.

It gets better. Earlier this year I found out that the Rokkaku sent an army to help out Nobunaga at the Battle of Okehazama. It was discovered that one of the Rokkaku's retainers was killed in action and some of the relics are at Chofukuji Temple near the Arimatsu Okehazama Battlefield. Yoshitatsu probably knew this and made a deal with the Rokkaku to keep Nobunaga in check.
Very interesting. So your hypothesis is that both Dosan and his dad were actually normal (if low ranking) samurai, and that being monks and oil merchants were actually something Yoshitatsu made up?

Also do we know how many men Rokkaku sent and why?
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AnimalSquabbles
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2:54 AM - Aug 13, 2018 #13

owari no utsuke wrote:"Hell Awaits" is a song by the metal band Slayer. Just had a nice ring to it.



Well, that's utterly disappointing. lol
Last edited by AnimalSquabbles on 2:56 AM - Aug 13, 2018, edited 1 time in total.
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AnimalSquabbles
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5:33 PM - Aug 17, 2018 #14

I'm debating picking up "Japonius Tyrannus" as well as "The Tale of the Genji"
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owari no utsuke
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2:23 PM - Aug 18, 2018 #15

I just received a message from the Kajino family who are caretakers of the Arimatsu Okehazama Battlefield. If the Rokkaku did send an army to aid Nobunaga, it was less than 1,500 men. According to documents at Chofukuji Temple at Okehazama, 1,500 and war dead 272.
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Parallel Pain
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1:13 AM - Aug 19, 2018 #16

Wow. 1,500 men and 272 dead is no joke. That's almost 30% dead. And the final assault on Yoshimoto was with only 2,000 men according to the Shinchōkōki.

It sounds like either the final assault was mostly done by Rokkaku's men.

Or Rokkaku's men participated in the defenses of the forts around Ōdaka, allowing Nobunaga to concentrate his own men. This could explain the high casualty, as such high casualty rate usually comes from a defeat.

Or there were combat events not recorded in the Shinchōkōki.

This also raises the question why Rokkaku aided Nobunaga, and how did 1,500 men cross Mino into Owari (wasn't Yoshitatsu technically at war with Nobunaga?)
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owari no utsuke
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1:56 AM - Aug 20, 2018 #17

Right after the Battle of Okehazama, Yoshitatsu made an alliance with the Rokkaku. I am still trying to figure out where the Rokkaku did their fighting. I have other sources about the Rokkaku's participation at Okehazama. I should have something soon.
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owari no utsuke
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5:44 PM - Aug 22, 2018 #18

According to the Mikawa Fudoki, the Rokkaku sent an army of 2,300. I think that number is way too high. When I chatted with the local Okehazama historian, if the Rokkaku did send army, it had to be around 1,500 or lower.

As for books, I ordered Shingen-The Last Campaign by Terje Solum. Looking forward to reading it.
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AnimalSquabbles
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6:17 PM - Aug 23, 2018 #19

owari no utsuke wrote:As for books, I ordered Shingen-The Last Campaign by Terje Solum. Looking forward to reading it.
What are the "Saga of the Samurai" books by Solum like? I've seen them listed online but judging by the title, volumization and artwork I assumed they were fiction. Now that you've posted this, i've looked into them more and they seem somewhat similar to the Osprey Publishing books.
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Parallel Pain
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2:22 AM - Aug 24, 2018 #20

I'm going to start a separate thread so we don't clog up this one for being off topic
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AnimalSquabbles
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8:34 PM - Sep 18, 2018 #21

JUST FINISHED:

"Samurai William: The Englishman Who Opened Japan" - by Giles Milton

I was hoping to get some inside perspective from an english speaker who was present in the sengoku period, but there wasn't much. It's mostly covering his journey at sea, life on the boat and in captivity as well as other journeys at sea in search of or to Japan. There's brief mention of Ieyasu going out to the battle of Sekigahara but thats about it. There is a good amount of detail on the Jesuits though if anyone is interested in that.

Osprey publishings "Kawanakajima 1553-64 japanese power struggle" by Stephen Turnbull

Awesome, just like all the others from Osprey. Very informative, great pictures and illustrations. Good to have something focused on this 'battle' alone. I learned alot i didnt know before, like the fact that the battles were years apart, Shingen and Kenshin werent present at all of them, Kansukes actual plan etc etc


CURRENTLY READING

"Japonius Tyrannus: The Japanese Warlord Oda Nobunaga reconsidered" by Jeroen Lamers :)
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Wicked L
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1:21 AM - Sep 21, 2018 #22

The Needle Watcher by Richard Baker, is the best book on Will Adams, its the very rare occasion that a novel has been praised and referenced by historians . Baker really did his research on this book .
It was almost a film Dino De Laurentis bought the rights, Kurosawa and  David Lean were to have directed the Japanese and English parts, Mifune, Peter O Toole  and Oliver Reed were set to star . NBC picked up the Clavell book and announced Sean Connery as the lead, and the Needle Watcher was cancelled .
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AnimalSquabbles
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4:33 PM - Oct 09, 2018 #23

JJST FINISHED:
"Japonius Tyrannus: The Japanese Warlord Oda Nobunaga reconsidered" by Jeroen Lamers

I enjoyed it. I've seen several reviews that say it's a dry read that focuses mainly on Nobunagas relationship with Yoshiaki. I feel niether of those statements are true. It was an easy read and there's alot more discussed than Yoshiaki. There's alot of interesting inside info I hadn't known before, like his sanctions on Yoshiaki, being offered the title of shogun, and Katsuie being the first appointed governor of his own territory.

One comment from other reviewers I do agree on is that it doesn't go in depth in battles at all. Even the most popular battles like Nagashino basically get summed up in one paragraph at most.

Also, a side note. The quality of paper may be the best i've encounter. The pages are thick and made the experience more enjoyable to me lol.
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