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Heart of a Samurai
     

Heart of a Samurai

4.2 29
by Margi Preus
 

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In 1841 a Japanese fishing vessel sinks. Its crew is forced to swim to a small, unknown island, where they are rescued by a passing American ship. Japan’s borders remain closed to all Western nations, so the crew sets off to America, learning English on the way.
Manjiro, a 14-year-old boy, is curious and eager to learn everything he can about this new culture

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Heart of a Samurai 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 29 reviews.
HomeSchoolBookReview More than 1 year ago
Did you know that for some 250 years into the middle of the nineteenth century, Japan was a closed society where no foreigners were allowed and any Japanese citizens who went abroad could be executed upon returning because people were afraid that they had been corrupted and might poison Japan's culture? The experiences and efforts of one young man helped to change all that. In 1841, Manjiro is a fourteen-year-old boy who lives near Shikoku, Japan. His fisherman father had died, and he is out on a fishing boat with four friends when a storm blows them to sea and casts them on a small, unknown island where they subsist until they are rescued by a passing American whaling ship, the John Howland, captained by the kindly Mr. Whitfield, who wants to adopt Manjiro. Renamed John Mung, Manjiro begins working with the whalers. The ship stops in Honolulu, Hawaii, where his four friends decide to stay, but Manjiro chooses to sail on with Captain Whitfield who adopts him to his home in New Bedford, MA, where he settles down on Whitfield's farm at nearby Fairhaven, attends both the Stone School House and Bartlett's School of Navigation, and is apprenticed for a while to a cooper, all the while facing prejudice from some. During this time he grows homesick for Japan, hoping that somehow he might be able to help the Japanese overcome their prejudice against foreigners. After shipping out on the whaling ship Franklin with the promise that he might be taken to Japan, which turns out not to be true, Manjiro, by then nearly age 24, travels to California to work the gold fields in search of enough money to finance a trip back to Japan. Will he make it? And even if he does, will he survive? Heart of a Samurai is a truly great historical/biographical fiction book for middle school age readers. The vast majority of the events and people in the story are real. The author says that some incidents and characters are fictional "to provide conflict and advance the story as well as to acknowledge the prejudice and ill will that Manjiro faced in a time and place where animosity toward Japan and its isolationist policies was in full flower." There is a helpful glossary in the back with Japanese words, whaling terms, and sailors' lingo, along with a bibliography for further reading. Many of the illustrations are those drawn by Manjiro himself. Anyone who is interested in Japanese culture, the history of whaling, or just a good, action-packed, adventure story will find this novel fascinating.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read this book , it begs to be read.Wonderful tale heart warming, loving , and great. I think everyone should give it a chance.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
this book is the best book i have ever read i loved it it is funny and hartwarming i give it 5 stars higly recomended!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Cami Johnson More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best books ive ever read. Its the right amount of funny,heart-warming, and a must read. If you dont really understand the beggining then its hard to get the rest of the story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book, it really is a must read. The deatails are so intense you would think you were there. The author did a marvelous job and here other books are'nt half bad either… -Briana
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent read for both adults and children age 10 and up
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I havent read this book but it is a battle of the books book 2013 and i heard its good
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this fricing book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book i haven fineshed yet but so far it is one of the Best books i have ever read i wish i could get it on my nook that would be verry helpful because i use it where ever i go and the paper back copy i have is due ak to the library soon but I LOVE this book its verry exsiting.
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Lawral More than 1 year ago
After being shipwrecked right at the opening of the story, Manjiro and his friends are rescued by the John Howland. The John Howland was a whaling vessel. It hunted whales for their blubber, baleen, and the spermaceti in the heads of the especially lucrative sperm whales. The descriptions of the hunting, killing, and butchering of the whales is not overly graphic, but as someone who grew up with an uncle down the street from Sea World (back when it was still an educational park rather than the kind of place that has roller coasters) and my own yearly unlimited pass, it was hard for me to read. But whaling is an important part of this book. It is Manjiro's quick thinking during a kill, along with his ability to quickly pick up the English language, that earned him his American name, John Mung, and a permanent place among the crew. At the end of the John Howland's time at sea, the captain even adopts Manjiro, now John, and raises him as his own, providing him with the best schooling Massachusetts could offer, an apprenticeship, and even his own pony. John's time in Massachusetts is fraught with prejudice. He's certainly not warmly welcomed by the whole of his new community. He faces taunts and bullying, and the captain and his wife even have to change churches twice before finding one that will accept their adopted son. John's maturity and nobility when dealing with all of this seems to stem from his desire to live up to all that the captain has given him. While this is wonderful and may even be true, I wish that John had more faults that just the propensity to bounce right off his pony. Throughout the book he has fears and hesitations and the story definitely has conflicts, but John Mung never really does. I didn't feel like he was a realistic character who showed growth as a person rather than a historical figure. But my biggest problem with Heart of a Samurai isn't a problem with the book at all; it's a problem with how it was described to me (and to everyone else on the front cover of the finished copy). Manjiro's life was clearly an adventurous one, but only because it actually happened. This is not an adventure book, and I think we're doing it and its readers a disservice by describing it that way. For an adventure book, it drags in places, like most of John's time in Massachusetts and the various points in his life when he's sitting around waiting to starve to death. The actual "high seas adventures" don't take up a lot of the text. Instead, it's rich with historical details and based on the life of a real mover and shaker in the international politics of the mid-1800s. Don't give this to your adventure lovers. Give it to your history buffs instead. Book source: ARC picked up at ALA
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I hated this book so much I cried
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I did not like it. Good story, but there is no details, and time moves by way too fast. It talks about when he was 15, then says he is 17, before the end of the thing happening when he eas 15. The story was ok, but not the rest.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is about a poor son of a fisherman with a low status in japanese society in the1800s but has always wished of becoming a samuria though he knows is not possible. Untill he is lost in a storm, after many weeks he is brought aboard a whaling ship and is brought to America where he learns about American society and culture and, upon returning to his country many years later he is interrogated and then told to tell of his time in America. After he is granted his wish to become what he has always strived for.