The founder of Japan's first modern corporation was a swaggering swordsman who packed a Smith and Wesson. He was an outlaw who led a band of stalwart samurai to overthrow the shogun. He was also one of the most colorful figures in Japanese history. His name was Ryoma, which is the title of the first literary biography of this truly Renaissance man to appear in the English language.
"Without this genius Japan would have lost its independance and been colonized by a European nation over a century ago," says Tsutomu Ohshima, Chief Instructor of Shotokan Karate of America, the oldest karate organization in the United States.
"Of the many heroes who lived and died during the turbulent years leading up to and following the Meiji Restoration, Ryoma was the most deserving of the appellation 'a man for all nations,'" says Saichiro Miyaji, Japan's most distinguished biographer of Sakamoto Ryoma. "I am very pleased to see the ideas and magnificent human statute of Ryoma presented in the English language on the eve of the 21st century."
Mid 19th-century Japan was a caldron of political upheaval and intrigue. It was a time of bloody inner-fighting among samurai. It was also the end of three centuries of feudalism under shogunal rule. This most enthralling age in the annals of Japan brought forth some of the most fascinating men in that nation's history. These men modernized Japan, and laid the foundation for the militarism of WWII and the economic powerhouse of today. This close look into the years and minds of these two-sworded men provides a deep insight into the political, cultural and psychological roots of modern Japan.
"In the present age of economical, political and social turmoil, Japan desparately needs a farsighted leader in Ryoma's calibre," says Tae Moriyama, principal of the Modern Japanese Language School in Tokyo, and author of several books on Japanese lanuage, history and culture. "Hillsborough has woven the elaborate story of Ryoma with pinpoint accuracy and a profound insight into the most exciting period in Japanese history. The author's infatuation with the life of this leader of men is alive of each page of this truly captivating book."
It is a cultural loss that an historical figure of such magnificent stature could have failed to gain the full attention of the Western world for nearly a century and a half. It is a tragedy that the general public's sources of information about the era of the samurai have, for the most part, been travesties of Japanese history and culture in the forms of popular fiction and movies. Ryoma - Life of a Renaissance Samurai, a new literary biography by Romulus Hillsborough, rectifies the situation.
This historical hardback edition is a collector's item. It is a literary biography on a magnificent scale, and a treasure chest of historical anecdotes, events and ideas never before presented in the English language.
NOTE: Ryoma-Life of a Renaissance Samurai will not be available in stores until May, 1999. It may be ordered directly from the publisher, however, as of January, 1999.
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