African Samurai: The True Story of Yasuke, a Legendary Black Warrior in Feudal Japan

Lockley, Thomas & . Hanover Square: Harlequin. Apr. 2019. 480p. illus. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9781335141026. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9781488098758. BIOG
OrangeReviewStarYasuke has been a legendary character in the samurai mythos of Japan. The historical African warrior accompanied the Jesuits to Japan in the latter part of the 16th century, entering the service of Oda Nobunaga, a powerful feudal lord attempting to unify the country. While in Nobunaga's service, he became the first foreign-born samurai of Japan. Lockley (Nihon Univ., Sch. of Law, Tokyo) and Girard (Cain's Blood) use primary sources to piece together Yasuke's immersion into Japanese culture with a novelistic history that takes place at the height of one of Japan's most important cultural and political moments. While the authors may take some liberties with Yasuke's narrative, they do so with attention to their source material and the culture of the time. The story involves several figures alongside Yasuke, including samurai, ninjas, and Catholic missionaries.
VERDICT With fast-paced, action-packed writing, Lockley and Girard offer a new and important biography and an incredibly moving study of medieval Japan and solid perspective on its unification. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 10/15/18.]
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