新書太閤記: A Novel

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Kodansha, Nov 1, 1992 - Fiction - 926 pages
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In the tempestuous closing decades of the sixteenth century, the Empire of Japan writhes in chaos as the shogunate crumbles and rival warlords battle for supremacy. Warrior-monks in their armed citadels block the road to the capital; castles are destroyed, villages plundered, fields put to the torch. Amid this devastation, three men dream of uniting the nation. At one extreme is the charismatic but brutal Nobunaga, whose ruthless ambition crushes all before him. At the opposite pole is the cold, deliberate Ieyasu, wise in counsel, brave in battle, mature beyond his years. But the keystone of this triumvirate is the most memorable of all, Hideyoshi, who rises from the menial post of sandal bearer to become Taiko - absolute ruler of Japan in the Emperor's name. When Nobunaga emerges from obscurity by destroying an army ten times the size of his own, he allies himself with Ieyasu, whose province is weak but whose canniness and loyalty make him invaluable. Yet it is the scrawny, monkey-faced Hideyoshi - brash, impulsive, and utterly fearless - who becomes the unlikely savior of this ravaged land. Born the son of a farmer, he takes on the world with nothing but his bare hands and his wits, turning doubters into loyal servants, rivals into faithful friends, and enemies into allies. In all this he uses a piercing insight into human nature that unlocks castle gates, opens men's minds, and captures women's hearts. For Hideyoshi's passions are not limited to war and intrigue - his faithful wife, Nene, holds his love dear, even when she must share it; the chaste Oyu, sister of Hideyoshi's chief strategist, falls prey to his desires; and the seductive Chacha, whom he rescues from the fierydestruction of her father's castle, tempts his weakness. As recounted by Eiji Yoshikawa, author of the international best-seller Musashi, Taiko tells many stories: of the fury of Nobunaga and the fatal arrogance of the black-toothed Yoshimoto; of the pathetic downfall of the House of Takeda; how the scorned Mitsuhide betrayed his master; how once impregnable ramparts fell as their defenders died gloriously. Most of all, though, Taiko is the story of how one man transformed a nation through the force of his will and the depths of his humanity. Filled with scenes of pageantry and violence, acts of treachery and self-sacrifice, tenderness and savagery, Taiko combines the panoramic spectacle of a Kurosawa epic with a vivid evocation of feudal Japan.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Dream24 - LibraryThing

I wasn't sure what to expect when I took a stab at reading this book. But I am glad I did because it opened up a whole world of what feudal Japan may have been like during that time period. The book ... Read full review

TAIKO

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

A homely, clever boy from the provinces survives a cheerless childhood and, through diligence, high-quality work, and devotion to his employers, eventually unites 16th-century Japan and becomes the ... Read full review

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About the author (1992)

EIJI YOSHIKAWA was born in 1892 in Kanagawa Prefecture, near Tokyo. He began his literary career at the age of twenty-two. During his thirties he worked as a journalist while continuing to write stories and novels, reaching a large and appreciative readership through having his work published, often
serially, in newspapers and popular magazines. At the time of his death in 1962, he was one of Japan's best-known and best-loved novelists. He received the Cultural Medal, the highest award for a man of letters, and other cultural decorations, including the Order of the Sacred Treasure.
CHARLES S. TERRY, the translator, was born in Mississippi in 1926 and graduated from Duke University. He first studied Japanese in the U.S. Navy during WW II and after the war received a master's degree from Columbia University in Japanese history. Resident in Japan since 1952, he also received a
master's degree in Chinese history from the University of Tokyo and has since been active as a translator of works on Japanese art, architecture and history. He died in 1982.

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