The 47th Samurai (Bob Lee Swagger Series #4)

( 99 )


In The 47th Samurai, Bob Lee Swagger, the gritty hero of Stephen Hunter's bestselling novels Point of Impact and Time to Hunt, returns in Hunter's most intense and exotic thriller to date.

Bob Lee Swagger and Philip Yano are bound together by a single moment at Iwo Jima, 1945, when their fathers, two brave fighters on opposite sides, met in the bloody and chaotic battle for the island. Only Earl Swagger survived.

More than sixty years later, ...

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The 47th Samurai (Bob Lee Swagger Series #4)

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In The 47th Samurai, Bob Lee Swagger, the gritty hero of Stephen Hunter's bestselling novels Point of Impact and Time to Hunt, returns in Hunter's most intense and exotic thriller to date.

Bob Lee Swagger and Philip Yano are bound together by a single moment at Iwo Jima, 1945, when their fathers, two brave fighters on opposite sides, met in the bloody and chaotic battle for the island. Only Earl Swagger survived.

More than sixty years later, Yano comes to America to honor the legacy of his heroic father by recovering the sword he used in the battle. His search has led him to Crazy Horse, Idaho, where Bob Lee, ex-marine and Vietnam veteran, has settled into a restless retirement and immediately pledges himself to Yano's quest.

Bob Lee finds the sword and delivers it to Yano in Tokyo. On inspection, they discover that it is not a standard WWII blade, but a legendary shin-shinto katana, an artifact of the nation. It is priceless but worth killing for. Suddenly Bob is at the center of a series of terrible crimes he barely understands but vows to avenge. And to do so, he throws himself into the world of the samurai, Tokyo's dark, criminal yakuza underworld, and the unwritten rules of Japanese culture.

Swagger's allies, hard-as-nails, American-born Susan Okada and the brave, cocaine-dealing tabloid journalist Nick Yamamoto, help him move through this strange, glittering, and ominous world from the shady bosses of the seamy Kabukicho district to officials in the highest echelons of the Japanese government, but in the end, he is on his own and will succeed only if he can learn that to survive samurai, you must become samurai.

As the plot races and the violence escalates, it becomes clear that a ruthless conspiracy is in place, and the only thing that can be taken for granted is that money, power, and sex can drive men of all nationalities to gruesome extremes. If Swagger hopes to stop them, he must be willing not only to die but also to kill.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
In the midst of the bloody battle for Iwo Jima, two soldiers clashed; in their hand-to-hand combat, only one survived. Now Philip Yano, the son of the brave Japanese soldier who died that day, has traveled to the United States, hoping to recover his father's sword. Eventually, his quest leads him to the Idaho doorstep of Bob Lee Swagger, the son of the American serviceman who killed his father. A Vietnam vet himself, Bob Lee agrees to help Yano in the search. They find the sword, but it doesn't take long for this unlikely pair to discover that the weapon has a pedigree far more hallowed and dangerous than that of any standard World War II issue. Readers of Point of Impact and Time to Hunt won't have to be told that Bob Lee Swagger wades into the ensuing danger with heroic aplomb. A gritty, tightly sprung, manly thriller.
Daniel Woodrell
If the wholesale violence is not a deterrent, readers will find that Washington Post film critic Hunter is a great entertainer, one of our finest practitioners of the classic blood-soaked and propulsive American thriller. With fluid, confident prose he writes big stories of a man, mostly alone, who must go forth for us all and slay the dragon. And, dear reader, there are yet dragons about, cleverly passing as rogue elements of the government, gangsters, terrorists from abroad, disguised but still with us.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

Bob Lee Swagger, retired marine master sniper and hero of bestseller Hunter's 1993 thriller, Point of Impact(forthcoming as the film Shooter), returns in this riveting homage to the myth of the samurai. Philip Yano, the son of the Japanese officer who commanded the bunker on Iwo Jima where Swagger's marine father won the Medal of Honor in 1945, approaches Swagger about a missing sword wielded by his father, Hideki, during the battle for the island. The sword turns out to be not just a family heirloom but a national treasure that evokes echoes from the most sacrosanct corners of Japanese history. Yano's search reveals there are those who will gladly kill for the honor it bestows upon the possessor. Plunged into a Japan where honor and loyalty outweigh even one's own life, Swagger finds that an old warrior like himself still has much to understand. While the action builds to the inevitable climax, the joy of the journey will keep readers turning the pages. (Sept.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

Memo to bad guys: Don't mess with Bob Lee Swagger (Black Light), even if he is getting old. Swagger returns in an exciting adventure that begins in the closing days of World War II, when Bob Lee's father, Earl (Havana), earns the Medal of Honor on Iwo Jima and takes a Japanese officer's samurai sword as a souvenir. Decades later, Bob returns the sword to the dead officer's son and family. But the sword turns out to be historically and politically important, and the Japanese family is slaughtered to get it. This horror causes Bob Lee to obsess about both avenging the family and retrieving the sword. In effect, he becomes a samurai, and his confrontations with the murderers are extremely bloody. Although heavy on both the explanations of Japanese customs and the sordid world of incredibly savage Japanese criminals, this work is compelling, exciting, and satisfying, a dark adventure that will appeal to thriller fans. Hunter is also a chief film critic at the Washington Post, where he won a Pulitzer Prize in 2003. Recommended. [See Prepub Alert, LJ5/15/07.]
—Robert Conroy

Kirkus Reviews
Starts in Iwo Jima. Ends in Tokyo 60-plus years later. In between, the Swaggers, father and son, slay their usual multitudes. Earl Swagger, Congressional Medal of Honor winner, doesn't believe in glory. As do all the good men in this novel-Japanese as well as American-he believes in duty. But they are such romantics, these hard-shelled soldiers. In a bunker on Iwo Jima in 1945, for instance, U.S. Army Sergeant Swagger, locked in mortal combat with Japanese infantry Captain Hideki Yano, considers himself dead. "He got me. He beat me," he thinks just before the killing knife is suddenly pulled back. Why? Because something persuades Captain Yano that his adversary has samurai worthiness. Just a moment or two earlier, Sergeant Swagger had a similar, life-prolonging insight into the character of Captain Yano. It's love actually, though of course that's a word banned from their warrior's lexicon. Flash forward to the present. In Idaho, one day, Bob Lee Swagger, late of the U.S. Marines, a chip off the old block, receives a visit from Philip Yano, a Japanese chip. Goes without saying, doesn't it, that the two are instant friends. Philip, seeking his father's sword, lost on Iwo, wonders if Bob Lee has it. Bob Lee checks out various attics, disinters it, journeys to Tokyo to present it to an overjoyed Philip. That very night, for reasons too complicated to delineate here, Philip and his entire family are murdered, a crime the Japanese authorities seem less outraged by than Bob Lee, who suddenly has what his iron soul has yearned for-a mission. Hunter's latest (American Gunfight: The Plot to Kill Harry Truman-and the Shoot-out That Stopped It, 2005, etc.) gets a bit operatic toward the end, butSwaggerin'-never to be taken seriously-is always fun. Agent: Esther Newberg/ICM
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781606407790
  • Publisher: Findaway World
  • Publication date: 11/28/2008
  • Series: Bob Lee Swagger Series, #4
  • Format: Other
  • Edition description: Playaway pre-loaded audio player
  • Product dimensions: 4.60 (w) x 7.80 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Stephen Hunter
Stephen Hunter has written fifteen novels. The retired chief film critic for The Washington Post, where he won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Distinguished Criticism, he has also published two collections of film criticism and a nonfiction work. He lives in Maryland.
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Read an Excerpt


Showa Year 20, Second Month, 21st Day
21 February 1945

A quiet fell across the bunker. Dust drifted from the ceiling. The burnt-egg stench of sulfur lingered everywhere.


It was a private. Takahashi, Sugita, Kanzaki, Asano, Togawa, Fukuyama, Abe -- who knew the names anymore? There had been so many names.

"Sir, the shelling has stopped. Does this mean they're coming?"

"Yes," he said. "It means they're coming."

The officer's name was Hideki Yano and he was a captain, 145th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Battalion, under Yasutake and Ikeda, attached to Kuribayashi's 109th Division.

The blockhouse was low and smelled of sulfur and shit because the men all had dysentery from the tainted water. It was typical Imperial Army fortification, a low bunker of concrete, reinforced over many long months, with oak tree trunks from what had been but was no longer the island's only oak forest, the sand heaped over it. It had three firing slits and behind each slit sat a Type 96 gun on a tripod, a gunner, and a couple of loaders. Each field of fire fanned away for hundreds of yards across an almost featureless landscape of black sand ridges and marginal vegetation. The blockhouse was divided into three chambers, like a nautilus shell, so that even if one or two were wiped out, the last gun could continue to fire until the very end. It was festooned everywhere with the latest imperative from General Kuribayashi's headquarters, a document called "Courageous Battle Vows," which summed up everyone's responsibilities to the Sphere.

Above all else, we shall dedicate ourselves to the defense of this island.
We shall grasp bombs, charge the enemy tanks and destroy them.
We shall infiltrate into the midst of the enemy and annihilate them.
With every salvo we will, without fail, kill the enemy.
Each man will make it his duty to kill ten of the enemy before dying.

"I am scared, sir," said the private.

"I am too," said Yano.

Outside, the captain's small empire continued. Six pits with Nambu guns in each, each gun supported by gunner, loader, and two or three riflemen flanked the empire to left and right. In further spider holes were martyrs with rifles. No escape for them; they knew they were dead already. They lived only to kill those ten Americans before they gave their lives up in sacrifice. Those men had it the worst. In here, no shell could penetrate. The concrete was four feet thick, riven with steel rods. Out there a naval shell from the offshore fleet could turn a man to shreds in a second. If the shell landed precisely, no one would have time for a death poem.

Now that the attack was upon them, the captain became energized. He shook off the months of torpor, the despair, the terrible food, the endless shitting, the worries. Now, at last, glory approached.

Except of course he no longer believed in glory. That was for fools. He believed only in duty.

He was not a speech maker. But now he ran from position to position, making sure each gun was properly cocked and aimed, the loaders stood ready with fresh ammunition strips, the riflemen crouched to pick off the errant demon American.


A boy pulled him aside.

"Yes?" What was the boy's name? He could not remember this one either. But these were all good boys, Kagoshima boys, as the 145th was drawn from Kyushu, the home of Japan's best soldiers.

"I am not afraid to die. I am eager to die for the emperor," said the boy, a superior private.

"That is our duty. You and I, we are nothing. Our duty is all."

But the boy was agitated.

"I am afraid of flames. I am so afraid of the flames. Will you shoot me if I am engulfed in fire?"

They all feared the flamethrowers. The hairy beasts were dishonorable. They chopped gold teeth from dead Japanese, they bleached Japanese skulls and turned them into ashtrays and sent them home, they killed the Japanese not decently, with gun and sword -- they hated the blade! -- but so often from miles out with the big naval shells, with the airplanes, and then when they got in close, they used the horrible hoses that squirted flaming gasoline and roasted the flesh from a man's bones, killing him slowly. How could a warrior die honorably in flames?

"Or the sword, Captain. I beg you. If I burn, behead me."

"What is your name?"

"Sudo. Sudo from Kyushu."

"Sudo from Kyushu. You will not die in flames. That I promise you. We are samurai!"

That word samurai still stiffened the spine of every man. It was pride, it was honor, it was sacrifice. It was worth more than life. It was what a man needed to be and would die to be. He had known it his whole life; he had yearned for it, as he yearned for a son who would live up to it.

"Samurai!" said the boy fervently, now reassured, for he believed it.

Able Company caught primary assault. It was simply Able's turn, and Charlie and Item and Hotel would offer suppressive fire and flanking maneuvers and handle artillery coordination, but it was Able's turn to go first. Lead the way. Semper fi, all that fine bullshit.

There was a problem, however. There was always a problem, this was today's: Able's CO was shaky. He was new to the 28th and rumors had it that a connected father had gotten his son the command. His name was Culpepper and he was a college boy from some fancy place who talked a little like a woman. It wasn't anything anybody could put a finger on, not homo or anything, he just wasn't somehow like the other officers. He was fancy, somehow, from fancy places, fancy houses, fancy parents. Was Culpepper up to it? Nobody knew, but the blockhouse had to go or Battalion would be hung up all day here and the big guns on Suribachi would continue to shatter the beachhead. So Colonel Hobbs assigned his battalion's first sergeant, Earl Swagger, to go along with Captain Culpepper that morning.

"Culpepper, you listen up to the first sergeant. He's old breed. He's been around. He's hit a lot of beaches. He's the best combat leader I have, you understand."

"Yes sir," said Culpepper.

The colonel drew Earl aside.

"Earl, you help Culpepper. Don't let him freeze, keep his boys moving. I hate to do this to you, but someone's got to get them boys up the hill and you're the best I've got."

"I'll get 'em up, sir," said Swagger, who looked like he was about 140 percent United States Marine Corps, chapter and verse, a sinewy string bean of a man, ageless in the sergeant way, a vet of the 'Canal, Tarawa, and Saipan and, someone said, Troy, Thermopylae, Agincourt, and the Somme. They said nobody could shoot a Thompson gun like the first sergeant. He'd fought the Japs in China before the war, it was said.

Swagger was from nowhere. He had no hometown, no memories he shared, no stories of the good old days, as if he had no good old days. It was said he'd married a gal last time home, on some kind of bond tour for the citizens back there, and everybody said she's a looker, but he never pulled pictures or talked much about it. He was all guile, energy, and focus, seemingly indestructible but one of those professionals with what some would call a gleam in his eye who could talk any boy or green lieutenant through anything. He was a prince of war, and if he was doomed, he didn't know it, or much care about it.

Culpepper had a plan.

Swagger didn't like it.

"Begging the captain's pardon, it's too complicated. You'll end up with your people all running around not sure of what to do while the Japs sit there and shoot. I wouldn't break Able down by squads but by platoons, I'd keep a good base of fire going, and I'd get my flamethrowers off on the right, try and work 'em in close that way. The flamethrowers, sir, those are the key."

"I see," said the young man, pale and thin and grave and trying so hard. "I think the men are capable -- "

"Sir, once the Japs see us coming, it's going to be a shit storm out there. They are tough little bastards, and believe you me, they know what they are doing. If you expect men to remember maneuver patterns keyed to landmarks, you will be disappointed. It has to be simple, hard, basic, and not much to remember, or the Japs will shoot your boys down like toads on a flat rock. The important goddamn thing is to get them flamethrowers in close. If it was me, I'd send the best blowtorch team up this draw to the right" -- they looked at a smudged map at the command post a few hundred yards back -- "with a BAR and a tommy-gunner as cover, your best NCO running the show. I'd hold your other team back. Meanwhile, you pound away from your base of fire. Get the bazookas involved. Them gun slits is tiny but a bazooka rocket through one is something the Japs will notice. Sir, maybe you ought to let me run the flamethrower team."

But the colonel said, "Earl will want to lead. Just let him advise, Captain. I need him back this afternoon."

"But -- " the young captain protested.

"Sergeant Tarsky is a fine man and a fine NCO. You let him move some people off on the left when we go. He's got to get a lot of fire going, and the people here in front, they've got to be working their weapons too. I need a lot of covering fire. I'll take the blowtorch team up the right. The Japs will be hidden in monkey holes, but I can spot 'em. I know where to look. So the BAR man can hose 'em down from outside their range. We'll get in close and burn 'em out, then get up there and fry that pillbox."

Culpepper hesitated a second, realized this smart, tough, duty-crazed hillbilly from some dead-end flyspeck south of perdition nobody had ever heard of was dead right, and saw that his own prissy ego meant nothing out there.

"Let's do it, First Sergeant."

The Type 92s fired 7.7 mm tracer. White-hot bolts of illumination cut through the mist and the dust. Through the gun slit, you could not see men, not really -- but you could sense them, maneuvering a foot at a time through the same chaos. Where the bullets struck, they lifted clouds of black sand.

"There," said the captain, pointing, and the gunner cranked his windage to the right, the finned barrel revolved on its mesh of gears, and the gun rocked, spent cartridges spilled, the tracer lashed, and in the vapors shapes stumbled and went down amid the stench of sulfur.

"Sir," someone yelled from the leftmost gun chamber.

Holding his sword so it would not clatter, the captain ran through the connecting tunnel.


"Sir, Yamaki says he saw men moving off on the left. Just a flash of them moving directly away from our position." Gun smoke filled the room, thin and acrid, eating at nasal tissues, tearing up eyes.


"I couldn't see, sir."

Well, it had to be. The American commander wouldn't move his people directly at the guns. The hairy beasts never did that; they didn't have the stomach and they weren't eager to die. They would die if necessary, but they weren't hungry for it. Glorious death meant nothing to them.

The captain tried to think it out.

He'd either go to his left or right, and you'd think he'd go to his left. There was more cover, the vegetation was thicker, and it was hard to bring direct fire because the ridge was steeper. You were mostly in danger from grenades, but the Americans didn't fear the Japanese grenades, because they were so underpowered and erratic.

The captain tried to feel his opponent. His imagination of a white man was someone impossibly big and hairy and pink. He conceived of a cowboy or a ghost, but he knew there'd be intelligence guiding it. The Japanese had learned the hard way over the years that the Americans may not have had honor but they had intelligence. They weren't stupid, they weren't cowards, and there was an endless supply of them.

It came down to left or right? He knew the answer: the right. He'd go to his right. He'd send the flamethrowers up that way because it was less obvious: there wasn't much cover, he'd run into spider holes, but he had the skill to overcome the spider holes. It seemed more dangerous, but a smart hand would have the advantage if he knew how to use terrain and was aggressive.

"I'll take care of it. You men, keep firing. You won't see whole targets, you'll see shapes. Fire on shapes. Be samurai!"


The captain ran back to the central chamber.

"The little gun," he ordered. "Quickly."

A sergeant brought him the submachine gun called the Type 100, an 8 mm weapon whose central design had been stolen from the Germans. It had a wooden stock, a ventilated barrel, and a magazine fitted horizontally to the left from the breech. They were prizes; there were never enough of them to go around. What we could have done with a million of them! We'd be in New York today! The captain had to lobby General Kuribayashi personally to get one assigned to his position.

He threw on a bandolier hung with pouches full of grenades and spare magazines, buckling it tight to his body. Carefully, he disconnected his sword from his belt, laying it aside.

"I want to ambush the flamethrower attack. I'll intercept them well beyond our lines. Give me covering fire."

He turned, nodded to a private, who unlatched the heavy steel door at the rear of the blockhouse, and scrambled out.

"What's your name, son?"

"MacReedy, First Sergeant."

"Can you shoot that thing?" Earl said, indicating the sixteen pounds of automatic rifle the boy held.

"Yes, First Sergeant."

"How 'bout you, son? Can you keep him loaded and hot?"

"Yes, First Sergeant," said MacReedy's ammo bearer, laden with bandoliers of BAR mags.

"Okay, here's what we're going to do. I'm squirming up the ridge. I'm going to check out the draw. When I see a monkey hole, I'm going to put tracer on it. You're with me in a good prone. Where I put tracer, you put five rounds of ball thirty. Hold tight, stay on my forty-five tracer. Tracer won't go through them logs the Japs use as revetment, but the thirty will, 'cause it's moving three times as fast. Your buddy there's going to feed you mags as you run dry. He'll switch them on you. You got that, son?"

"Got it, First Sergeant," said the assistant gunner.

"Now you blowtorch guys, you hang back. We got to clear this out before I can get you up on the ridge and you can get to work. Okay?"

There was a mumble of reluctant assent from his loose confederation of troops clustered just below the ridge, a couple of low, "Yes, First Sergeant."

"And another thing. Out here, where there's Japs, I'm Earl. Forget all the First Sergeant bullshit. Got it?"

With that Earl began his long squirm. He crawled through volcanic ash and black sand. He crawled in a fog of sulfur-stinking dust that floated up to his nose and tongue, layering him with grit. He held his Thompson tight like a woman, felt the two BAR gunners with him close, and watched as Jap tracer flicked insolently above. Now and then a mortar round landed, but mostly it was dust in the air, cut with flecks of light, so brief, so fast you weren't sure you really saw it.

He was happy.

In war, Earl put everything behind him. His dead, raging father no longer screamed at him, his sullen mother no longer drifted away, he was no longer the sheriff's boy, hated by so many others because they so feared his father; he was nobody but First Sergeant and he was happy. He had the United States Marine Corps as a father and a mother now, and the Corps had embraced him and loved him and nurtured him and made him a man. He would not let it down and he would fight to the death for its honor.

Earl got to the crest of the little ridge and poked his head up. Before him he saw a fold in the sandy soil that led up to the blankness of a higher ridgeline, a rill that was a foothill to Suribachi, which rose behind them, blocking all view of the sea. It was 2/28's job to circle around the volcano, cut the mountain off from resupply, then inch up it and take out the mortars, the artillery emplacements, the artillery spotters, and the spider holes and pillboxes that dotted its scabrous surface. It had to be done one firefight at a time, over a long day's dying.

The landscape of the draw seemed empty, a random groove cut in the black sand, clotted with clump grass and bean vines. The odd eucalyptus bush stood out amid the desolation.

Once he would have led men up and all would have died. But like his peers, he had learned the craft of war.

He looked now for gnarled root groupings in the clump grass and eucalypti, for patches of lemongrass, for small, stunted oak trees, for the Japanese had a genius for digging into them, for building small, one-man forts, impregnable to artillery but at the same time inescapable. There was no such thing as a back door. Thus they would die to kill. Retreat and surrender were terms they did not comprehend.

"You set up, MacReedy?"

"Yes, Earl."

"On my fire."

Copyright © 2007 by Stephen Hunter
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 99 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 100 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 5, 2011

    Surprisingly good

    After reading the premise of this book, I was hesitant. Being of Japanese ancestery (2nd generation, Katano Clan), I doubted Mr. Hunter's ability to properly convey the Japanese culture and history involving an item so deeply set in their culture.

    I can admit when I was wrong, as I was extremely impressed. He must have had a lot of research involved, and had someone intimately knowledgeable of all things Japanese review this novel, as I could find very few mistakes, and only on minor points. Definitely a page turner, and I finished this book in just over a day. Definitely recomended reading for anyone wishing to know more about Japanese culture and history.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 5, 2013

    Solid contribution to the Swagger series.

    Was unsure whether I would like this one as I consider most movies regarding samurais to be childish prattle.
    When the book started, I thought Bob was going to end up in a duel with the son of the man who Bob's father had killed in WWII.
    Once that man was killed off, then the story took on some fascinating details.
    Still had to suspend disbelief regarding Bob's swift mastery of the art of swordfighting but overall highly entertaining if not entirely credible.

    David Blocher

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2013

    Highly Recommended

    A different place for Bob Lee. Modern Japan and Training with a Sword instead of a Rifle. I'm a fan of Japan in general and I read every line closely.I feel that the book got a lot of the culture correctly. The action is great. A must read in the series.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 9, 2011

    more from this reviewer


    Not entirely in a good way.

    Bob Lee Swagger's (now 60 years old) next mission in this book involves moving to Japan, becoming an expert swordsman in less than a week, and then fighting off six yakuza swordsmen (who have been studying the sword for their entire lives) without so much as breaking a sweat.

    Yeah. Sure.

    That isn't to say that I didn't like the book. The writing was, in Stephen Hunter's normal fashion, superb. The action sequences were very detailed and kept me on the edge of my seat. I just feel that this should have been a stand-alone novel not centering around the hero that we've grown to love as a marine corps sniper. This book had nothing whatsoever to do with shooting, the jungle, or guns.

    It was still a good read, however, and I plan to get the next in the series to see what life holds next for the old sniper.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 9, 2011

    Waste of time

    Bob Lee Swagger,is totally unbelievable in this story. If it were listed under Sci/fi Fantasy, or Humor,it might be an acceptable read. Our hero, Bob Swagger, after a few weeks of training in Kendo and Japanese sworsmanship, singlehandsdly defeats six trained swordsman in one battle and then goes on to defeat the greatest, most feared swordsman in Japan, in single combat. If you can accept this, you might enjoy the book because the premise and storyline are good.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2009

    The Hunter Wins

    I loved Bob Lee in Point of Impact but I think this story was not needed. It is a good story, entertaining, and a fun read but requires a lot of leaps to accecpt. I just can not believe that He could learn enough on how to use a fighting sword in such a short time to combat those who have spent their whole lives learning the sword culture, history, and techniques.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 23, 2009

    Slice 'em Up!

    Blood, guts and gore! I loved it! "47th Samurai" is a snapshot of the darkside of the Japanese culture, where accuracy, focus and precision have carried over into their gangster element (Yakuza) and creates a challenging scenario of an American tough guy vs. samurai bad guys. In spite of conflict against modern day criminals there is honor, blood is shed by knife and sword as the American battles for his revenge on ancient Japanese terms.

    I didn't want the book to end!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 30, 2007

    Bob The Nailer Becomes Swagger The Samurai

    The plot lines for Stephen Hunter¿s latest Bob Lee Swagger novel have been adequately explored here already. My take on the ¿47thSamurai¿ will seem as equally mixed as many of Hunter¿s other readers/reviewers. I anxiously await each Swagger novel knowing I will be treated to literate writing that does not talk down to the reader as well as intricate detail on plot, family issues, personal codes of bravery, and most especially, on shooting paraphernalia and procedures. Certainly, this novel more fully explored the historical and psychological ties between Bob Lee and his father Earl: clearly, the impetus to the entire novel is their brief but life changing life together. Less explored was the apparent disintegration or at least aimless drifting of Bob¿s marriage to Julie(which at one time was his overriding passion). Hunter continues to write in an engaging literate style that often catches the reader in a rollercoaster style pace of excitement and commitment to the next chapter. Swagger¿s personal code of justice and life (a strange mixture of mountain values, machismo, self reliance, nobility, and honor) plays well in the Japanese world of bushido and samurai. His commitment to the central theme of this novel, finding and returning the sword his father brought home from the war to its rightful owner, is solely motivated by this Swagger Code. I do agree with other reviewers that we are asked to do some severe ¿suspension of disbelief¿ in several plotlines, most notably a 60 year-old Swagger becoming a dangerous swordsman after one week of practice with a master. I found myself thinking outside Hunter¿s box and wanting Swagger to pull out his rifle and use his warrior skills against those of the Yakuza. Or in the final showdown with Kando (perhaps the greatest swordsman in Japan), I would have loved Swagger to enter the killing area, confront Kando (like Clint Eastwood in a spaghetti western), pull out a .45¿and dispense ultimate justice. Ahhh, now that would have been a creative ending¿but certainly a violation of the Swagger Code.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2012

    Simply superb

    Much better paced than book #1 in the series. Authentic without being cheesy.

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  • Posted October 10, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Exciting reading!

    Again, Stephan Hunter comes through with a "hard to put down" book. Hunter makes the story interesting, exciting, yet believable. This is one that should be made into a movie.

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  • Posted April 13, 2011

    Excellent Highly recommended

    This is a great "Guy" book. I stumbled upon this book just this year and could not put it down. Great gift for your guy friend

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  • Posted March 23, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Now We Know

    Now we know what Earl Swagger did to earn his Medal of Honor. Stephen Hunter tells the rest of that story as he sets the stage for Bob Lee's latest adventure set mostly in Japan. Some of the plot elements are a bit of a reach for the 60 year old Bob Swagger but Hunter does it with a style that invites us to suspend skepticism and become absorbed by this tale of the marriage of honor from 2 cultures.
    Hunter is a better writer than Lee Child--more literate and allegorical--and the Swagger family is more motivated by a fine tuned sense of right and wrong combined with the ability to perpetrate violence when needed than Reacher. I enjoy reading Hunter. He's an outstanding writer and spins a complicated yarn that draws the reader in and holds on. This book ties up some of the loose ends from previous books featuring the Swaggers. If you've enjoyed previous Hunter books, you'll love the 47th Samurai. If you haven't read Hunter before, start here and then enjoy backtracking into the other stories of the Swaggers from Hunter.

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  • Posted March 16, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Bob Lee Swagger series

    follows swagger's personna, but is a little over the in not realistic following the swagger skill set
    but can't get enough of bob lee

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  • Posted February 23, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Bob Lee: 60 and Swinging a Sword

    Readers of Stephen Hunter's Bob Lee Swagger books have already proven they can suspend belief for a few hundred pages in exchange for an action-packed story. So, if you have read and enjoyed Stephen Hunter's earlier novels featuring Bob Lee Swagger, or his father, Earl Swagger, you will like this book. Swagger's integrity, toughness, and honor are all present in this story.

    Swagger goes to Japan in this story, honor-bound to return a samurai sword to the family of the soldier who lost it in a battle to Swagger's father, Earl. Of course, after he arrives, all hell breaks loose and Swagger is forced to go up against a group of men who are schooled in the samurai sword fighting. To do this, Swagger has to be schooled himself, so thank goodness he has kept his 60-year-old body in good shape! But we all know that he's a great specimen, and with his quick hands and ability to concentrate, he is able to come close to par.

    Examining too closely the idea of a 60-year-old man leaving his wife and daughter at home to become a samurai may hinder some's ability to swallow this story, but we Swagger fans eat it up like ice cream.

    As in all Swagger novels, there is plenty of wise-cracking and lots of gore and blood, and vengeance. So if you aren't fond of gratuitous violence in your books, Swagger books are not for you.

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  • Posted February 17, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Bob Lee Swagger is at it again.

    Stephen Hunter has created a great character in Bob Lee Swagger. The 47th Samurai is another book that casts the ex-U.S. Marine Corps sniper in a drama of good against evil.<BR/><BR/>In this story, Bob Lee is getting older but through a series of random events becomes involved in a fight to avenge the death of a friend and former Japanese military officer. At the center of the story is a samurai sword blade that was used by a Japanese officer in World War II against Bob Lee Swagger's father. For reasons best left to the book to explain, everyone wants the blade. It's up to Bob Lee to retrieve the blade and give it to it's rightful owner.<BR/><BR/>Stephen Hunter does a good job of taking literary license with actual events in World War II and in giving a short but concise history of the Samurai. For those who have enjoyed reading other Bob Lee Swagger novels, this is a must-read. For those who have not read other Bob Lee Swagger novels, this reviewer suggests you start with Hunter's earlier novels to get a history of Bob Lee Swagger. You won't be disappointed with the read if you like action packed thrillers.<BR/><BR/>I'm a fan of Stephen Hunter, so my review may be skewed in his favor, but I found The 47th Samurai to be entertaining and thrilling. It was a good book to escape into.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2009


    I have read and enjoyed the previous six Swagger books. This story takes place in Japan and is full of violence, swords, dismemberment, blood and death. It is an unpleasant, disturbing book and many portions can be skipped. I had looked forward to this book, but found it a hugh disappointment.

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  • Posted October 30, 2008

    All you got...

    I'll take all the Bob Lee and Earl Swagger books there are. It's definitely a man's series with all the gun-talk, but I'm an older woman and I love it. I don't read any other books like these, except for Stephen Hunter's other books. Absolutely engrossing. Bob and Earl are both way bigger than life, but still believable.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2008

    Not worth the wait

    I've loved everything this author has wrote and anticipated this book for some time. I could not have been more dissapointed. Maybe it's my inability to relate to the sword as opposed to firearms. I know it's fiction but when it is not at least believeable, it makes it an effort to be engaged in the story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 28, 2007

    I loved it

    It captured my interest and was quite accurate when refering to swords and such. A good book

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2007

    Mr. Hunter does it again!

    I enjoyed every aspect of this book. My own history with martial arts, and the military, really pulled me into the story from the beginning. I read this book in one day! I highly recommend it!

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