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CompleteMartialArts.com - Osaka 1614-15: The Last Samurai Battle (Campaign)


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Manufacturer: Osprey Publishing
Average Customer Rating: Average rating of 5.0/5Average rating of 5.0/5Average rating of 5.0/5Average rating of 5.0/5Average rating of 5.0/5

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Binding: Paperback
Dewey Decimal Number: 355
EAN: 9781841769608
ISBN: 1841769606
Label: Osprey Publishing
Manufacturer: Osprey Publishing
Number Of Items: 1
Number Of Pages: 96
Publication Date: 2006-06-27
Publisher: Osprey Publishing
Release Date: 2006-06-27
Studio: Osprey Publishing

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Editorial Reviews:

In 1614, Osaka Castle was Japan's greatest fortification, measuring approximately 2 miles in length with double circuits of walls, 100 feet high. It was guarded by 100,000 samurai, loyal to their master: the head of the Toyotomi clan, Toyotomi Hideyori. The castle was seemingly impenetrable, however the ruling shogun of the age, Tokugawa Ieyasu, was determined to destroy this one last threat to his position as Japan's ultimate ruler. This book explores the complex background of this bitter struggle, as well as the battle experiences of the opposing forces, in a compelling exploration of the conflict that led to the eventual triumph of one dynasty over another.


Spotlight customer reviews:

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: TURNBULL KNOW HIS ERA LIKE NO ONE ELSE DOES.
Comment: I HAVE BEEN READING TURNBULL'S BOOKS FOR YEARS EVER SINCE I STUMBLED ACROSS A OLD TITLE OF HIS FROM THE 80'S.IF WANT THE ULTIMATE AUTHORITY IN THE ERA OF THE SAMURAI, READ HIS BOOKS.ANYONE ELSE IS A WASTE OF YOUR TIME.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: Turnbull Assaults Osaka-jo
Comment: Osaka 1615, Stephen Turnbull's latest Osprey effort, is a welcome addition to the sparse English sources on Japanese warfare. Much of the information in this volume is presented in English for the first time, and Turnbull does a good job of detailing the movements and maneuverings of the two armies. I found his coverage of the many small battles occurring at the beginning of the Winter Osaka Campaign to be particularly well done and helpful. The orders of battle are highly detailed and extensive. As always, Turnbull excels in his ability to breath life into what could otherwise be a straightforward military history with many stories of the `glorious' (and not so glorious, as in the case of a commander who was lying drunk in a brothel as his fort was being captured) deeds performed. The volume is loaded with prints, woodcuts, and modern photos of the battlefields from Turnbull's archives (one of the best and most diverse sources to be found outside Japan). Colorful and detailed maps round out the volume. At 96 pages, it's not quite as extensive as could be hoped for, but hey, that's Osprey.
I'd like here to address some points made by another reviewer that I found rather odd, as Turnbull covers them all in his volume.
1)"Unfortunately, Turnbull is somewhat weaker on examining the actual military aspects of the campaign, such as why the Tokugawa won (yes the artillery was important, but simply not decisive at this point in history due to slow rate of fire and limited battlefield mobility)"
Artillery fire WAS the decisive factor in the Winter campaign (and henceforth the campaign as a whole). After several failed assaults on the Osaka castle defenses, Ieyasu decided to take a different approach. He knew his best bet was to prompt Lady Yodo (Toyotomi Hideyori's mother) to coerce her son into entering peace negotiations. Ieyasu knew Lady Yodo well, and his keen insight into her nature led him to believe that opening up on her living quarters with his artillery would have the desired effect...and he was right. The artillery bombardments of the keep (along with the entreaties of Yodo's family members sent as envoys by Ieyasu) drove the Toyotomi to a disastrous agreement with Ieyasu that ended up leaving the castle stripped of much of its defenses. The superior range of the Tokugawa cannon meant that they could bombard the keep at will without fear of retaliation. Rate of fire and mobility were simply not important factors, and for that matter even the physical damage they caused. Without the artillery, it's likely that the siege would have taken many extra months or perhaps years...if the Tokugawa coalition held that long.
2)"...or how many casualties occurred."
Turnbull doesn't discuss this for the simple reason that there exist no contemporary records of casualties for the battles as a whole. Anything on his part would be no more than wild speculation.
3)"Turnbull's methodology for the most part ignores how units fought or operational decisions in favor of spotlighting individual behavior."
Welcome to the world of samurai warfare, where operational decisions many times tended to be on the `There's the enemy-go get them!' and `We're being attacked-go get them' level. Some armies such as the Shimazu or Uesugi would pull off well planned ambushes and assaults, but these were the exception rather than the rule.
4)"After reading the description of the main actions on 3-4 June 1615 I found it difficult to gauge from this volume why exactly one side prevailed (other than the obviously higher level of initiative on the Tokugawa side)."
As Turnbull explained, the Toyotomi forces (outnumbered two to one) found their initial assault blunted as the Tokugawa continually brought fresh troops into the battle (while the Toyotomi forces became more and more tired and depleted). When the assault ground to a halt, the Toyotomi commander (Sanada Yukimura) was killed and their exhausted forces broke.
The book is not without its faults (I'd give it 4.8 stars rather than 5)...there are a few typos (for example, Kyushu is spelled Kyosho on page 9). The map of the battle of Domyoji on pages 70-71 has some mislabeling (there are two number 3's on the map-one of which should be #2-and number 1 & 2 on the map should both be labeled `1'). The same map also shows further troop positions on the Toyotomi side that do not agree with Japanese sources and appear to be incorrect. There's also some statements made to the effect that the walls and outworks of the castle look now just as they did in 1615-not so, as the original Toyotomi walls and structures were covered with dirt and built upon for the `Tokugawa' version of Osaka castle built around 1620. Likewise, the present keep is said to be based upon the Toyotomi version of the keep-however, the dimensions, number of roofs, and even something as basic as the castle's color are completely different.
All in all, however, Turnbull has done an exceptional job with the book given the limited space. There's something to be learned here for both serious scholars and casual readers. Highly recommended for any aficionado of Japanese history!


Customer Rating: Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5
Summary: Samurai Stories Galore
Comment: In Osaka 1615, Osprey Campaign #170, Samurai expert Dr. Stephen Turnbull provides an interesting summary of the final battle that unified Japan under the Tokugawa shogunate. I have been reading Turnbull's work since I was a student in Japan in the early '80s, when I also had chance to visit Osaka Castle. In short, Turnbull has a huge wealth of Samurai-related knowledge that he is able to convey on these pages to fascinate readers who enjoy Eastern tales of derring-do. Unfortunately, Turnbull is somewhat weaker on examining the actual military aspects of the campaign, such as why the Tokugawa won (yes the artillery was important, but simply not decisive at this point in history due to slow rate of fire and limited battlefield mobility) or how many casualties occurred. The author presents the reader with one Samurai account after another, but after awhile they start to appear as ciphers since we really don't know much about most of them. Turnbull's methodology for the most part ignores how units fought or operational decisions in favor of spotlighting individual behavior.

The volume follows the standard Osprey campaign format, with the usual 2-D and 3-D maps. Dr. Turnbull divides the campaign narrative into the winter and summer phases. I must admit that Dr. Turnbull adds good insight into Tokugawa Ieyasu's character, but most of the other leaders remain obscure. After reading the description of the main actions on 3-4 June 1615 I found it difficult to gauge from this volume why exactly one side prevailed (other than the obviously higher level of initiative on the Tokugawa side). Since the author admits that the final battle could have gone either way, this question deserved better analysis. Overall, this volume covers the subject fairly well, although it remains aloof from military issues, such as logistics, intelligence.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: Outstanding
Comment: I have been reading and enjoying Stephen Turnbull's books since 1978. His latest book about Osaka in 1615 as the last battle of the samurai is outstanding. I pre-ordered it knowing it would be good, but I was blown away by how comprehensive it was.
Turnbull has a seemingly enless number of stories about the samurai. Interesting anecdotes such as the question of Tokugawa Ieyasu being killed and replaced by a kagemusha (shadow warrior)is fascinating. I am looking forward to his next book due out this fall.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: Tokugawa versus Toyotomi....
Comment: This proves to be a valued addition to the Osprey Campaign series. The author, Stephen Turnbull wrote a great summary book on one of final major campaigns fought by the Japanese samurai during their heydays.

The campaign in question was Tokugawa Ieyasu's effort to secured his family rule of Japan by destroying the only other family who had the power and prestiage to challenge him. That family was the one of Toyotomi Hideyori, son of the great Taiko, Toyotomi Hideyoshi. While Battle of Sekigahara in 1600 created the Tokugawa Shogunate, Osaka Campaign of 1615 secured it for the next 250 years.

This book proves to be well written, well research and reflects strongly on the author's command of the subject. The author explains clearly the motives, directions and purpose of the campaign. The campaign ironically proves to be some sort of a Sekigahara Part II type of scenario since so many members of the Toyotomi army were made up of survivors who lost the first battle.

The book is organized into Osprey's typical set-up of introduction, background, commanders, troop type and finally the campaign itself. The entire book is exactly 96 pages long including the index. It come well illustrated, the maps are easy to read and followed and there some which proves to be very useful. The author have also provided some very nice order of the battle as well.

Overall, the book come highly recommended for anyone interested in Japanese samurai history. This book will go superbly well with Ospery's earlier book on Sekigahara by Anthony Bryant which proves to be equally well written.


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