The Samurai Encyclopedia: A Comprehensive Guide to Japan’s Elite Warrior Class

Tuttle. Oct. 2022. 544p. ISBN 9784805317082. pap. $24.99. REF
Vaporis (history, Univ. of Maryland; Tour of Duty: Samurai, Military Service in Edo and the Culture of Early Modern Japan) provides more than 170 alphabetical entries, many illustrated and cross-referenced by topic such as “people,” “events,” or “samurai practices.” The longest entries—on castles and education—run several pages, and many include sources for further reading. A time line (1543–1889), a bibliography, and 15 primary-source documents (including excerpts from letters, a list of laws, and “An Account of Hara-kiri”) add to the book’s utility. The descriptions of disembowelment and ritual suicide are not for the faint of heart.
VERDICT Vaporis includes scholarly research but writes for the general reader. Interest in samurai culture is significant, and this non-sensational choice emphasizes scholarship.
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