A Brief History of the Samurai

  • by Jonathan Clements
  • Narrated by Jonathan Keeble
  • 12 hrs and 1 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

From a leading expert in Japanese history, this is one of the first full histories of the art and culture of the Samurai warrior. The Samurai emerged as a warrior caste in Medieval Japan and would have a powerful influence on the history and culture of the country from the next 500 years. Clements also looks at the Samurai wars that tore Japan apart in the 17th and 18th centuries and how the caste was finally demolished in the advent of the mechanized world.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Anecdotes bring life to samurai history

Any additional comments?

As a Japanese school child, Japanese History was just dates and names, but this audiobook brought these historical people and incidents to life for me. Samurai are all too often depicted through rose tinted glass, but Clements delivers the stories of human foibles with a dry sense of humour, and he got me laughing out loud often.

I have been a massive fan of European history but not of my own country, because of the way history was taught in Japan when I was a child. If this was my History textbook, I would have read it in bed.

The only reason why I gave four stars, not five, for the performance is because Keeble's pronunciation of Japanese words are often incorrect. Otherwise his delivery lets you suck into the drama of Japanese history.

It is well researched, and quotes and anecdotes are so well chosen that you cannot help but be interested in these historical characters and incidents. It is not a long book, but Clements achieves a lot, telling the story of the long era of samurai concisely, and educate and entertain you at the same time. I would recommend this for anyone who is interested in Japan or History.

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- Tweetingcheetah

Title is a Misnomer

What disappointed you about A Brief History of the Samurai?

It was actually an account of the aristocracy of Japan rather than about the Samurai themselves. A certain amount of background is required to understand the theme but the background became the bulk of this book. I'm sure a book entitle a 'Brief History of European Knights' would be disappointing if it was mainly about the Kings and Queens of Europe.


Who might you have cast as narrator instead of Jonathan Keeble?

Anyone who had had a brief lesson in Japanese pronunciation. It was distracting at times.


You didn’t love this book--but did it have any redeeming qualities?

Not for me, I'm afraid, I found it tedious.


Any additional comments?

Change the title to a 'Brief History of Japanese Rulers'.

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- Ryuto

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-02-2014
  • Publisher: Audible Studios