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The Courage of a Samurai: Seven Sword-Sharp…

The Courage of a Samurai: Seven Sword-Sharp Principles for Success

by Lori Tsugawa Whaley

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On the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066 known as the Day of Remembrance, I’m reading a motivational book written by a Sansei – an American with grandparents that immigrated to the US from Japan. She uses the Samurai Bushido or honor code to challenge her readers to live their life true to themselves. It is a motivational and challenging read but it is also so much more. The examples from history frequently involve Japanese Americans during WWII and it is a very personal history lesson. I also heard the warning that “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” and it felt very urgent and timely.

I recommend this book to anyone interested in the Nisei veterans of the 100th Infantry Battalion or the 442nd Regimental Combat Team or the Military Intelligence Service during WWII. I recommend this book to everyone that can use a pep talk about integrity, honor and loyalty. I recommend this book to anyone concerned about fake news, alternative facts, or our treatment of immigrants.

In full disclosure, I do have a connection to the author. We grew up in the same small town as neighbors. Unfortunately there was just enough difference in our ages that I can’t claim her as a friend. ( )
  CarolO | Feb 23, 2017 |
The Courage of a Samurai: Seven Sword-Sharp Principles for Success by Lori Tsugawa Whaley is a most incredible book. I am not a huge fan of self-help books, having read a few and decided that many sort of chewed over the same advice. This is not a self-help book. This is a book that awakens those dim memories of being taught when young how to live properly, of doing the right thing, and living a life of integrity and moral uprightness. In the preface the author speaks about things that will have readers nodding in agreement—how do you live your life according to principles when most people these days seem to have tossed ethics, integrity, truthfulness, and honour out the window? How can one pursue a life of doing what is right when everyone else seems to be doing what they want or what they think is right for them? How does one live ethically in a society dominated by materialism, selfishness, and the prevailing ideology of “me first!” in society and government.

The author uses the code of bushido, the principles of the samurai, the code of chivalry that permeates Japanese society, to awaken in readers what we know is right, and to encourage us to pick up those principles and use them, making our lives worthy and honourable. The author introduces the history and culture of Japan, the rise of the samurai class, the way of the warrior, in an engaging way that makes the history lesson really palatable and enjoyable. You’ll love learning these facts which open the reader’s eyes to Japanese society and behaviour, especially in times of terrible disasters.

Each chapter is devoted to a principle: Courage, Integrity, Benevolence, Respect, Honesty, Honour, and Loyalty. Each chapter is prefaced with a kanji, the Japanese ideogram for the meaning of the word. I found this so interesting and unusual. Lori uses stories of great and memorable people, many of them humble folk who would not consider themselves to be great or extraordinary at all—their deeds of heroism, their acts of selflessness, their “doing the right thing” illustrate that people who maintained these principles in their lives and actions rose to stand out above the rest. Much of this heroism happened during World War II and some stories brought me to tears. Lori also outlines the history of the Japanese people in the USA and their shocking treatment at the hands of the American government during the war, with the internment camps and alien classification because they were Japanese.

The book is so beautifully laid out in a way that facts and figures do not overwhelm the reader, but can be absorbed easily. Lori’s tone is conversational and laid-back, but amazingly enough, she manages to cover much ground and deep thinking in this fashion. This review cannot accommodate just how much interesting information is covered, and the author’s incredible research is very evident. I learned a great deal and my views on what is the right way to conduct oneself during life were reinforced. Relevant and appropriate quotes from leaders, philosophers, philanthropists, humanitarians, and deep thinkers are included as well.

I have always been fascinated with Japan, the samurai class, the way of the warrior, and I absolutely love the story of the 47 Ronin who sacrificed themselves to avenge the needless death of their master, to put right a great wrong. The fact that these samurai are still celebrated in Japanese culture today speaks volumes for what they stood for.

The author aims to inspire, empower, and educate readers, and by the end of this book, your faith in doing what you know is right, living by what could be construed as “old fashioned” values is reinforced. You’ll be inspired to forge your own warrior’s code and create a life of success and meaningfulness, using principles that will help you face and conquer today’s challenges, both personally and professionally. This is a must-read for anyone interested in finding the keys to creating a life lived well and lived worthily. Thought provoking, spiritual, and very moving. A stellar achievement by Lori Tsugawa Whaley. ( )
  FionaRobynIngram | Oct 31, 2016 |
For a veteran, the idea of living by a code is second nature. But, in today’s world, that idea –living by a unifying set of principles – is a bygone of eras past. Especially in the high-tech, Huxleyian world where everyone is entitled to fame and attention by virtue of their ability to exhibit what they eat or what they look like or what they’re doing at literally every second of the day.

Maybe I’m just old fashioned. If I am, I’ll live proudly with it.

It’s that old-fashioned sense that drew me to [The Courage of a Samurai] by Lori Tsugawa Whaley. She’s a local author up in the Seattle area, and I happened on her book in an independent bookstore and market – Kinokuniya. The sheer size and bustling environs of the store had my book-buying pulse pounding anyway. But I wanted something to remember the store by, as well as feed my bibliophilia. The beautiful cover and the fact that Whaley had been hosted for a signing event, and signed this copy, helped push me over the edge. But it was the book’s message that really appealed to me – living by a code.

The Bushido Code for a Samurai includes the following principles: Courage, Integrity, Benevolence, Respect, Honesty, Honor, and Loyalty. Whaley examines each principle in detail, starting with a description of the Japanese kanji for the principle. These sections, where she crosses into linguistic frontiers to explain how the different characters and their meanings combine, were easily the highlight of the book. She moves on to discuss the principle and then offer examples from life where those principles were followed by some person in Japanese history. Her descriptions of Senator Daniel Kim Innouye’s service and World War II’s Purple Heart Unit – the 100th Infantry Battalion and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team – were provocative and enlightening.

Whaley’s downfall is the all-too-often struck, repetitive self-help tone. The book is well researched and well thought out, but she seemed to lose her way when she reverted to life-coaching. She would have done well to make her points more subtly, letting the stories and her description of the kanji’s make her points.

Bottom Line: A great historical vignette, and a cool peek into Japanese culture, if you can forgive the ham-handed recitations.

3 ½ bones!!!!! ( )
  blackdogbooks | Apr 17, 2016 |
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Who were the samurai, and how could a people dedicated to war and violence have such an impact on a culture known for its politeness, manners, and aesthetic beauty? The samurai warriors of ancient Japan lived by a moral and ethical code known as Bushido, "the way of the warrior." This code of chivalry sculpted a culture and influenced all aspects of their lives and society. After the Japanese earthquake and tsunami of March 2011, the world witnessed the characteristics of Bushido, including courage, integrity, benevolence, respect, honesty, honor, and loyalty. This book presents these principles as a guide for navigating the challenges we all face with examples of individuals who exemplify their meaning in today's world. Sharpen your sword, and let the journey begin!… (more)

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