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Taiko [Hardcover]

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Item description for Taiko by Eiji Yoshikawa & William Scott Wilson...

In the tempestuous closing decades of the sixteenth century, the Empire of Japan writhes in chaos as the shogunate crumbles and rival warlords battle for supremacy. Warrior monks in their armed citadels block the road to the capital; castles are destroyed, villages plundered, fields put to the torch.
Amid this devastation, three men dream of uniting the nation. At one extreme is the charismatic but brutal Nobunaga, whose ruthless ambition crushes all before him. At the opposite pole is the cold, deliberate Ieyasu, wise in counsel, brave in battle, mature beyond his years. But the keystone of this triumvirate is the most memorable of all, Hideyoshi, who rises from the menial post of sandal bearer to become Taiko-absolute ruler of Japan in the Emperor's name.
When Nobunaga emerges from obscurity by destroying an army ten times the size of his own, he allies himself with Ieyasu, whose province is weak, but whose canniness and loyalty make him invaluable. Yet it is the scrawny, monkey-faced Hideyoshi-brash, impulsive, and utterly fearless-who becomes the unlikely savior of this ravaged land. Born the son of a farmer, he takes on the world with nothing but his bare hands and his wits, turning doubters into loyal servants, rivals into faithful friends, and enemies into allies. In all this he uses a piercing insight into human nature that unlocks castle gates, opens men's minds, and captures women's hearts. For Hideyoshi's passions are not limited to war and intrigue-his faithful wife, Nene, holds his love dear, even when she must share it; the chaste Oyu, sister of Hideyoshi's chief strategist, falls prey to his desires; and the seductive Chacha, whom he rescues from the fiery destruction of her father's castle, tempts his weakness.
As recounted by Eiji Yoshikawa, author of the international best-seller Musashi, Taiko tells many stories: of the fury of Nobunaga and the fatal arrogance of the black-toothed Yoshimoto; of the pathetic downfall of the House of Takeda; how the scorned Mitsuhide betrayed his master; how once impregnable ramparts fell as their defenders died gloriously. Most of all, though, Taiko is the story of how one man transformed a nation through the force of his will and the depth of his humanity. Filled with scenes of pageantry and violence, acts of treachery and self-sacrifice, tenderness and savagery, Taiko combines the panoramic spectacle of a Kurosawa epic with a vivid evocation of feudal Japan.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   940
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1.5" Width: 6.25" Height: 8.5"
Weight:   2.55 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Jan 16, 2001
Publisher   Kodansha International
ISBN  4770026099  
ISBN13  9784770026095  

Availability  0 units.

More About Eiji Yoshikawa & William Scott Wilson

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EIJI YOSHIKAWA was born in 1892 near Tokyo. Beginning his literary career at the age of twenty-two, he continued to work as a journalist while writing novels that reached a large and appreciative readership. At the time of his death in 1962, he was one of Japan's most popular novelists. His memoirs have been translated as Fragments of a Past.

WILLIAM SCOTT WILSON, the translator, was born in 1944 and grew up in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. As an undergraduate student at Dartmouth College in 1966, he was invited by a friend to join a three-month kayak trip up the coast of Japan from Shimonoseki to Tokyo. This eye-opening journey, beautifully documented in National Geographic, spurred Wilson's fascination with the culture and history of Japan.

After receiving a B.A. degree in political science from Dartmouth, Wilson earned a second B.A. in Japanese language and literature from the Monterey Institute of Foreign Studies in Monterey, California, then undertook extensive research on Edo-period (1603-1868) philosophy at the Aichi Prefectural University, in Nagoya, Japan.

Wilson completed his first translation, Hagakure, while living in an old farmhouse deep in the Japanese countryside. Hagakure saw publication in 1979, the same year Wilson completed an M.A. in Japanese language and literature at the University of Washington. Wilson's other translations include The Book of Five Rings, The Life-Giving Sword, The Unfettered Mind, the Eiji Yoshikawa novel Taiko, and Ideals of the Samurai, which has been used as a college textbook on Japanese history and thought. Two decades after its initial publication, Hagakure was prominently featured in the Jim Jarmusch film Ghost Dog.

Eiji Yoshikawa was born in 1892 and died in 1962.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Contemporary
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General
3Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Historical
4Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > War

Reviews - What do customers think about Taiko?

More than samurais......  Feb 15, 2008
Sometimes hard going, always engrossing. While there are some artistic licences used, generally it holds true to known history of that period of Japan. I had to pay attention to the writing, as when I speed read, I will jump over some minor plot points. It is a good to read something other then western writing, and on a topic different to what most of us would have a passing familiarity with (At least). Occasionally, there is some insights as to the internal political stances (authors interpretation, based on historical records) of the factions, there are also glimpses of well developed characters also. No one individual is whooly good or bad. Grounds the story, and keeps it real.
Enjoyable, a good reward, not for speed reading.
Taiko...Loved it!  Dec 24, 2007
Well written and translated. Definitely not a book for beginners in this period of Japan. The names alone would baffle someone looking for light reading. Relatively accurate historically with a very compelling "rags to riches" storyline. A good, solid read for deveotees to this time frame.
One of the best book on Japanese unification history  Aug 20, 2007
I first read this book 20 years ago when I was in the primary school. Of course I did not understand it at that time. I picked it up again when I was in university and since then I have read it 3 times.

This book puts a lot of focus on the live of Toyotomi Hideyoshi from his youth to his rise as one of the powerful figure in Japan political landscape. Hideyoshi lived at the time when the Japanese political power was polarized into three shoguns, Takeda Shingen, Oda Nobunaga and Ieyesu Tokugawa.

The monkey face, this was how the young Hideyoshi being called by others, started his career as the low level servant at Oda Nobunaga clan. He was the personal servant of Oda Nobunaga himself, carrying Nobunaga's sandals. Overtime he rose as one of Nobunaga's trusted general. Hideyoshi's main strenght is his administration skill. He is able to manage people in achieving certain goals. He is also a master negotiator, being able to persuade some of Nobunaga's enemies to switch side. His big break came after Nobunaga's unexpected death. He quickly consolidated the power and basically took over the Nobunaga's clan.

Mr. Yoshikawa is very good in telling the stories and describing the mind and feeling of the characters. He is very good in reliving the heart and soul of the characters involved in the history. That's what make this book is very enjoyable to read. It's not a plain history book but it is more a romantic drama book.

The only set back that I have with this book is the closure or the ending. I feel that Mr Yoshikawa bring this book to an end too fast. The pace of the story is speed up and condensed right after the death of Nobunaga.

To conclude this review, this is one of several books that I read more than once. The other book from Mr Yoshikawa, Musashi, is also very highly recommended.

Awesome  Aug 6, 2007
Extraordinary! I cannot say enough of this novel. It is vast in depth and exposition of this era. The portrayal of Hideyoshi's rise to power is intriguing chapter by chapter.

The novel contains many of the protagonists of this time, all formidable and with many vying for the position of supreme ruler of Japan. Through it all the unassuming monkey-faced soldier with the peasant background rises to the forefront. Hideyoshi is underestimated by his peers, with the exception of those few who see past his mien and recognize the giftedness and genius of this man.

The shortcomings of the novel is its overt romanticism attributed to Hideyoshi. Historically, Hideyoshi was a political animal and during his reign he ordered the disastrous campaign against China and Korean, and his later persecution of Christians. The author does not write about his later life where these events took place. This leads to the second flaw, which is that the story ends too abruptly with Hideyoshi's execution of a political move which places him as the most pre-eminent Lord of Japan. We never see him as he finally rises to the title of Taiko. Yoshikawa tells us (as well as history itself) that Hideyoshi's mastery is inevitable at the point that the novel ends; however, it left me desiring the author to finish the story and that Yoshimoto would have written more. Still it is a novel that I have read again and again despite its length and minor shortcomings.
A dense but enjoyable book.  May 28, 2007
This book is a great read. It is something that can be enjoyed by those who have a interest in samurai literature, or people interested in history. The book at times seems to move slowly to get to something that the reader will know is inevitable. Also worth mentioning, the book has entirely too much emphasis on the names of every character, major and minor. all considered I am not dissapointed that I bought this book.

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