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Samurai William : the Englishman who opened…

Samurai William : the Englishman who opened Japan (original 2003; edition 2002)

by Giles Milton

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6061116,110 (3.68)31
Title:Samurai William : the Englishman who opened Japan
Authors:Giles Milton
Info:New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2003, c2002.
Collections:Your library
Tags:japan, biography

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Samurai William: The Englishman Who Opened Japan by Giles Milton (2003)

  1. 10
    Shogun: A Novel of Japan by James Clavell (Cecrow)
    Cecrow: A fictional retelling of Samurai William.

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Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
A much wider-ranging book than I at first assumed, this is as much about the West's first incursions into Japan as it is the life story of William Adams. In fact, for the last third, Adams seems to recede from view, his place being taken from a more salubrious cast of characters.

https://youtu.be/q-cTtGAiyuA ( )
  soylentgreen23 | Mar 21, 2017 |
The story of William Adams, the first Englishman to live in Japan and gain high esteem in the shogun's court, is interesting. Giles Milton is a good storyteller, and the story is one of treacherous sea voyages, unruly seamen, and the rivalry and hate between the Catholic (Spanish and Portuguese) and Protestant (British and Dutch) colonizers. As with Nathaniel's Nutmeg, which is the only other book I have read by Milton so far, he tells the story of all, not just the title character, with its twists and turns. The wealth of information gathered here from historic records and letters is impressive, though at the same time Milton's easy going yet elegant language makes everything read like one epic story.
Why only three stars then? Well, compared to Nathaniel's Nutmeg, I found the fumbling adventures of Englishmen in Japan to be less captivating. It seems that there was very little business done, many incompetent "factors" who were just criminal-minded or good old drunks, and the only competent man, William Adams, was stuck in Japan, unwillingly trying to help the Englishmen to survive the shogun's and the local lord's trade policies. Beyond that there seems to be just a lot of sitting and waiting and drinking and whoring. In the end, I am not sure what the historical impact of this brief British presence in Japan was. Perhaps none. Certainly, for two centuries no other foreigner had access to the shogun's court like William Adams had. ( )
1 vote bluepigeon | Dec 27, 2013 |
A very well-written and interesting book about William Adams, the first Englishman in Japan. It managed to give plenty of information not only about Adams, but also Japan in general and all the things influencing Adams's life in Japan. And somehow it stayed interesting all the way through. Oftentimes, such indepth nonfiction books end up boring me with dry, uninteresting writing, but Giles Milton's is trully impressive. ( )
  BrynDahlquis | Apr 3, 2012 |
7 ( )
  agdturner | Aug 5, 2011 |
  agdturner | Aug 5, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0142003786, Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:03:49 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

"The true story behind James Clavell's best-selling Shogun Samurai William is the incredible tale of a man who tried to bridge two very different cultures during one of the earliest and most fascinating encounters between East and West." "In 1611, the merchants of London's East India Company received a startling letter from Japan, written by a marooned English mariner named William Adams. Even though foreigners had been denied access to this unknown land for centuries, Adams had been living there for years. He had taken a Japanese name, risen to the highest levels in the ruling shogun's court, and was now offering his services as adviser and interpreter."."Seven adventurers were sent to Japan with orders to find and befriend Adams in the belief that he held the key to exploiting the riches to be discovered there. But, overwhelmed by the exotic attractions of this new and forbidden country, and failing to grasp the intricacies of a culture so different from their own, the Englishmen quickly found themselves at odds with the ruling shogun. For more than a decade, the English, helped by Adams, attempted trade with the shogun. Faced with the difficulties of communicating, and hounded by scheming Jesuit monks and fearsome Dutch assassins, they eventually found themselves in a desperate battle for their lives."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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