Before you listen…
The samurai era conjures up many ideas for most of us: honor codes, poetry, tradition, and splendid warriors with legendary swords. This image was never truly accurate, but it was gone by the 1540s. The once-glorious capital was half in ashes, the old lords had nearly all been destroyed, and the country had been in anarchy for two generations. It was a time of total disaster, but also a time in which the class structure was fluid enough that a simple peasant would rise in time to reunify Japan, restore the prestige of the samurai … and erase any opportunity for men like him to do the same again.
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For Further Awesome Reading….
Hideyoshi by Mary Elizabeth Berry
The best and most expert source for the true history of the life of the great man, as well as the greater context of the Japan that had come before him and the Japan in which he lived.
A History of Japan 1334 – 1615 by George Sansom
Sansom was a beast at narrative history in the old style, when the idea was to tell the story of the facts in a compelling way rather than to get yourself published for saying something, anything, new. This is my main reference for the whole fascinating period from the ascendancy of the first Shogunate to the dawn of the last.
Taiko: An Epic Novel of War and Glory in Feudal Japan by Eiji Yoshikawa
For fun, high drama, visual detail, and a more immersive reading experience, this historical fiction biography of Hideyoshi is a great read!
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