With all the adventure, derring-do, and bloodcurdling battle scenes of his earlier book, Nathaniel’s Nutmeg, acclaimed historian Giles Milton dazzles readers with the true story of William Adams—the first Englishman to set foot in Japan (and the inspiration for James Clavell’s bestselling novel Shogun). Beginning with Adams’s startling letter to the East India Company in 1611—more than a decade after he’d arrived in Japan—Samurai William chronicles the first foray by the West into that mysterious closed-off land. Drawing upon the journals and letters of Adams as well as the other Englishmen who came looking for him, Samurai William presents a unique glimpse of Japan before it once again closed itself off from the world for another two hundred years.
Spotlight customer reviews:
Customer Rating: Summary: Makes history exciting and accessible Comment: I found this to be a superbly written book, filled with fascinating details and enough excitement to fill a novel. Using quotes from contemporary sources, Milton brings history to life by focusing on the human elements rather than dry chronology. I can't wait to read the rest of Milton's books. Customer Rating: Summary: one of the best books on Japanese/European history Comment: I'm moving to Japan in a few months and one of my buddies suggested I read the book before I go. It's very entertaining and gives you the mindset behind what makes the Japanese tick-truly amazing culture. Customer Rating: Summary: I'm happy to have this book in my shelf Comment: In my case, I learned about William Adams watching the PBS Empire Series which I recommend as a complement of this delightful book. What a story, supposedly bound to the East Indies as part of a Dutch Enterprise, Williams Adams is one of the few to reach Japan after a long and difficult voyage. From there comes an exquisite recount of Adams stay in feudal Japan of the 1600 which include a view of their customs and cities and the efforts made by other English Men to establish a trade spot in the Land of the Rising Sun. Is impressive how Williams Adams became a personal advisor of the Shogun Ieyasu and how he became part of this culture that remember him even after 200 years of his death. This book was also an excellent portrait of the Portuguese and Dutch East Indies Company of the time, the expulsion of Jesuits and eradication of Catholicism from Japan, and also provide some interesting information about the natives of Africa's Guinea Ecuatorial and of course, the South of Chile (passing the Magellan Strait).
You can see a letter sent by Adams in 1613 in the British library site. Enjoy!!! Customer Rating: Summary: Move over, Richard Chamberlain Comment: Everyone is familiar with "Shogun"; if not the book, then surely the lengthy TV mini-series. But the real story of the English pilot, William Adams is far more interesting. This is a wonderful book that encapsulate an era of exploration, the first halting attempts of economic empire-building, and the dawn of the Shogunate. And while Adams' personal story is not quite as dramatic as James Clavell's pilot, it is certainly more interesting and entertaining. Especially remarkable was to watch the speed of navigational developement and international operations over a period of a mere thirty years. One forgets at times that Jamestown and Plymouth were established within a few years after Adams' arrival in Japan, and by the time of his death, the Eastern Seaboard was almost entirely settled. A wonderful view of a time less well understood and frequently miscaracterized. Customer Rating: Summary: absorbing Comment: Did you know that James Clavell's "Shogun" was based on the story of an actual Westerner who had gone native in Japan in the early 1600's? I sure didn't.
I thought Clavell was just spinning tales out of whole cloth. No, no; there really was a marooned Englishman there named William Adams, although as we learn from Milton's book, he wasn't quite as mixed up in high politics as was John Blackthorne.
Milton relates Adams's intriguing story in the straightforward style of popular history. It is not written in the form of fiction; Milton here is writing for a large non-scholarly audience. There are no footnotes: Any references or Japanese terms the general reader probably can't handle are explained in the running text.
In addition to an index, the book features several maps and black-and-white woodcut-type illustrations throughout the text.