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Author Ravina, Mark, 1961-

Title The last samurai : the life and battles of Saigo Takamori / Mark Ravina.

Published Hoboken, N.J. : John Wiley & Sons, Inc., [2004]


Location Call No. Status
 UniM Bail  952.031092 RAVI    AVAILABLE
Physical description xvi, 265 pages : 24 cm
Contents "Powerfully sentimental", Saigo's early years in Satsuma -- "A man of exceptional fidelity", Saigo and national politics -- "Bones in the earth", exile and ignominy -- "To shoulder the burdens of the realm", the destruction of the Shogunate -- "To tear asunder the clouds", Saigo and the Meiji State -- "The burden of death is light", the war of the southwest.
Summary On September 24, 1877, Saigo Takamori, one of Japan's most loyal and honored samurai, died in the bloodiest conflict Japan had seen in over two hundred years -- a battle led by Saigo and his band of loyal students. Now, more than 125 years after his death, Saigo still remains a legendary yet enigmatic figure in Japan. Why would Japan's greatest warrior, whose sole purpose was to serve his country, set in motion a civil war and lead a group of rebel soldiers to overthrow the government that he had personally helped to restore? The Last Samurai sets forth to demystify Saigo's life, his machinations, and the dramatic historical events that shaped the life and death of Japan's favorite samurai. Exiled for misconduct, Saigo was pardoned in 1864 and called back to the mainland to train a group of Satsuma warriors. Their mission was to seize control of the imperial palace and restore the imperial house to its former glory. Saigo's coup was successful, and in 1867 he led the drive to destroy the shogunate and to create a powerful new state. But with Saigo's victory came a crushing defeat: in his drive to modernize Japan, the Meiji emperor, whom Saigo had helped bring to power, abolished all samurai privileges, including their ancient right to carry swords.
Now an acting member of a modernizing Meiji government, Saigo was given command of the newly formed Imperial Guard, Japan's first national army in nearly a millennium. Saigo supported many of the government's Western-style reforms, but he was torn by the sense that he was betraying his most stalwart supporters. Deeply ambivalent about the government he had helped create, Saigo sought to end his career with a final dramatic gesture: he sought to go as imperial envoy to Korea, where he would insist that the Korean king recognize the Meiji emperor. When his plan was denounced as reckless, Saigo resigned from government, returned to his native Satsuma, and opened a military academy for former samurai warriors. His group of disgruntled students resented the rapid modernization of Japan even more than did Saigo. They set forth to slow the hand of change with their swords, making Saigo the reluctant leader of their uprising. Old Japan and New Japan met in battle -- blades against artillery -- and old Japan lost. Saigo died in battle from a bullet wound, but legend still has it that he died by his own sword, upholding samurai honor to the end. In life, Saigo had represented all that was commendable in the samurai estate. In death, Saigo's legend grew even greater. The Last Samurai deftly traces the rise, fall, and rise again of Saigo's life, his legend, and his dedication to all he believed in: tradition, honor, and glory. This compelling book provides a fascinating glimpse into the final days of Japanese feudal society, the blood-swept path of Saigo's career, and his lasting impact on the nation to which he gave his life.
Subject Saigō, Takamori, 1828-1877.
Statesmen -- Japan -- Biography.
Japan -- History -- Restoration, 1853-1870.
ISBN 0471089702 (cloth)

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