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The Lost Samurai (ePub)

Japanese Mercenaries in South East Asia, 1593–1688

Frontline eBooks Frontline: 17th-19th Century Military 17th Century 16th Century

By Stephen Turnbull
Frontline Books
File Size: 21.5 MB (.epub)
Pages: 192
ISBN: 9781526758996
eBook Released: 18th May 2021

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The Lost Samurai reveals the greatest untold story of Japan’s legendary warrior class, which is that for almost a hundred years Japanese samurai were employed as mercenaries in the service of the kings of Siam, Cambodia, Burma, Spain and Portugal, as well as by the directors of the Dutch East India Company.

The Japanese samurai were used in dramatic assault parties, as royal bodyguards, as staunch garrisons and as willing executioners. As a result, a stereotypical image of the fierce Japanese warrior developed that had a profound influence on the way they were regarded by their employers.

Whilst the Southeast Asian kings tended to employ samurai on a long-term basis as palace guards, their European employers usually hired them on a temporary basis for specific campaigns. Also, whereas the Southeast Asian monarchs tended to trust their well-established units of Japanese mercenaries, the Europeans, whilst admiring them, also feared them. In every European example a progressive shift in attitude may be discerned from initial enthusiasm to great suspicion that the Japanese might one day turn against them, as illustrated by the long-standing Spanish fear of an invasion of the Philippines by Japan accompanied by a local uprising.

It also suggested that if, during the 1630s, Japan had chosen engagement with Southeast Asia rather than isolation from it, the established presence of Japanese communities overseas may have had a profound influence on the subsequent development of international relations within the area, perhaps even seeing the early creation of an overseas Japanese empire that would have provided a rival to Great Britain. Instead Japan closed its doors, leaving these fierce mercenaries stranded in distant countries never to return: lost samurai indeed!

The book has drawn upon much detailed research, archival sources and it references many documents from the period. This volume is quite superb, and the author needs congratulating for this. He has produced a remarkably interesting book which undoubtedly will have many surprises to the reader as the author has uncovered many previously little-known details about expatriate Samurai history. Those people who are interested in Japanese martial history should read this tome as it will give you a vastly different perspective to the “traditional” image of the Samurai. These were Samurai who fought for foreign masters and eventually they became “Wild Geese” who could not return to their home islands after Japan closed its borders. This book will have many surprises for the reader and anyone with an interest in Samurai history / culture ought to read this wonderful tome.

Dr Stuart C Blank

An inherently fascinating, impressively well written, exceptionally informative, and meticulously detailed history, "The Lost Samurai: Japanese Mercenaries in South East Asia, 1593 - 1688" is a unique and unreservedly work of seminal scholarship. Enhanced for academia with the inclusion of a thirteen page Bibliography and a four page Index, "The Lost Samurai: Japanese Mercenaries in South East Asia, 1593 - 1688" is an extraordinary and especially recommended addition to community, college and university library Japanese/India/Philippines history collections in general, and Samurai Martial History reading lists in particular.

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Midwest Book Review

This is a fascinating read and something that warrants further investigation. If you are interested in the martial cultures of Japan and the samurai, this is an excellent book to give you a very different set of stories.

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Medieval Sword School

An interesting and engaging read, I have an interest in Japanese history and culture , but I’m no expert, so I found this book well presented, immersive and really interesting, it really was well thought out, researched and laid out. Thoroughly recommended to anyone interested in history, Japan or even war, great read.

NetGalley, Tara Keating

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

A very interesting book looking into a history group that I honestly had no idea had even been around, but this book was engaging and well written . History and Japanese buffs will love this book!

NetGalley, Heather Bennett

About Stephen Turnbull

Stephen Turnbull took his first degree at Cambridge and has two MAs (in Theology and Military History) from Leeds University. In 1996 he received a PhD from Leeds for his thesis on Japan’s ‘Hidden Christians’. In its published form the work won the Japan Festival Literary Award in 1998. Having lectured widely in East Asian Studies and Theology he is now retired and pursues an active literary career. His expertise has helped with numerous projects including films, television and the award-winning strategy game Shogun Total WarThe Lost Samurai is his 82nd book to be published.

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