The Last Samurai: The Life and Battles of Saigo Takamori

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November 2003



On September 24, 1877, Saigõ 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 Saigõ and his band of loyal students. Now, more than 125 years after his death, Saigõ 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 Saigõ 's life, his machinations, and the dramatic historical events that shaped the life and death of Japan's favorite samurai. Exiled for misconduct, Saigõ 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. Saigõ 's coup was successful, and 1867 he led the drive to destroy the shogunate and to create a powerful new state. But with Saigõ 's victory came a crushing defeat: in his drive to modernize Japan, the Meiji emperor, whom Saigõ 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, Saigõ was given command of the new Imperial Guard, Japan's first national army in nearly a millennium. Saigõ 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


NOTE TO THE READER. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS. INTRODUCTION. 1. "POWERFULLY SENTIMENTAL" Saigo's Early Years in Satsuma. 2. "A MAN OF EXCEPTIONAL FIDELITY" Saigo and National Politics. 3. "BONES IN THE EARTH" Exile and Ignominy. 4. " TO SHOULDER THE BURDENS OF THE REALM" The Destruction of the Shogunate. 5. " TO TEAR ASUNDER THE CLOUDS" Saigo and the Meiji State. 6. "THE BURDEN OF DEATH IS LIGHT" Saigo and the War of the Southwest. NOTES. BIBLIOGRAPHY. SOURCES. INDEX.


MARK RAVINA is an Associate Professor of Japanese History at Emory University and Director of the East Asian Studies Program. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia.


"Ravina's portrait of Saigo is well drawn and sympathetic..." (Asian Affairs, November 2004) "...Reads like a thriller..." (Good Book Guide, February 2004) "...Ravina's writing grips with the intensity of a great adventure story and vividly portrays the upheavals caused to a nation..." (Yorkshire Evening Post, 24 January 2004) "...a pacy narrative that reads like a thriller, complemented by maps and photographs..." (The Good Book Guide, January 2004)
EAN: 9780471089704
ISBN: 0471089702
Untertitel: Sprache: Englisch.
Erscheinungsdatum: November 2003
Seitenanzahl: 265 Seiten
Format: gebunden
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