Ninja: 1,000 Years of the Shadow Warrior

Ninja: 1,000 Years of the Shadow Warrior

4.6 20
by John Man
     
 

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Out of the violent chaos of medieval Japan, a remarkable band of peasants rose to become the world's most feared warriors—trained to perfect the art of ninjutsu, the deadly union of martial arts and deception. Today, however, these real life ninjas are overshadowed by legend and pop culture caricatures. Could they fly? Climb walls? Make themselves

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Overview

Out of the violent chaos of medieval Japan, a remarkable band of peasants rose to become the world's most feared warriors—trained to perfect the art of ninjutsu, the deadly union of martial arts and deception. Today, however, these real life ninjas are overshadowed by legend and pop culture caricatures. Could they fly? Climb walls? Make themselves invisible?

Drawing on a wealth of historical texts, local Japanese sources, and his own comprehensive treks across Asia, acclaimed author John Man takes us back to the ninjas' origins in China, through to their heyday in the bloody civil wars that ended with the unification of Japan in 1600. Man also illuminates the twentieth-century reemergence of the Japanese tradition of shadow warfare through the Nakano Spy School—the elite military-intelligence academy that operated as an extensive spy network during World War II—and reveals one former Nakano soldier, Onoda Hiroo, who may be the last surviving ninja.

Compelling and absorbing, Ninja reveals at last the fascinating true history behind one of the world's most enduring legends.

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Editorial Reviews

Simon Sebag Montefiore
“One could ask for no better storyteller than John Man.”
Literary Review
Ninja is a racy popular history of a difficult and often mythologised subject and should appeal to the armchair warrior in us all.”
The Guardian
“An immensely entertaining history, packed with splendidly blood-thirsty tales of derring-do, feats of endurance and self-sacrifice.”
Bookreporter.com
“As colorful and intriguing as the warriors it so vividly brings to life.”
Publishers Weekly
A historian and travel writer specializing in Asia, Man exposes the history of the secretive ninja, a.k.a. shinobi, and differentiates him from his public counterpart, the samurai. Unlike the latter, the survivalist ninja eschewed self-sacrifice and the seppuku (hara-kiri) ordeal, aiming to "get close to the enemy" in order "to learn and return." Westerners recognize ninjas as "sinister men in black" acting as "spies, scouts, surprise attackers, and agitators," but may not realize they originated in the old Japanese provinces of Iga and Koga as peasant farmers linked to neighbors and communities in self-defense networks. Man explains other salient figures of the ninja heyday (1400-1600C.E.) like the shogun (chief samurai and military dictator) and daimyo (feudal lord). As experts in covert warfare, ninjas underwent extensive training including the casting of spells, which were "useful but not infallible." Ninjas were believed to "guarantee a quick victory" during wartime, up until their 17th century demise. Man employs humor and a casual, travelogue style, interposing relevant personal anecdotes to illustrate how the ninja's day is long past, or else his art of invisibility is more effective than ever.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Library Journal
In a book that is part history and part travelog, British popular historian Man (Attila) takes a wide view in searching for the truth about historical “shadow warriors” and their modern counterparts. Early chapters trace the development of ninjas and their skills by sweeping through Japan’s tumultuous history with accounts of their exploits, interspersed with Man’s own observations on rumored ninja techniques and various historical locations (such as the former sites of the Koga and Iga schools of ninjutsu). Later chapters explore the concept of the “modern” ninja, ninja ideals in World War II espionage, the romanticization of the ninja figure, and the transmission of the idea to Western culture (focusing in particular on the James Bond film You Only Live Twice). Man writes entertainingly while providing vivid anecdotes and dispelling myths, but he’s limited by both the paucity of historical accounts of ninjas and his own reliance on English-language sources or a translator. While the later chapters supply some interesting viewpoints, their connection to legitimate ninja history at times feels tenuous.

Verdict An engaging volume for the casual reader or those with a general interest, but others in search of a sturdier volume on the subject might prefer to rely on Stephen Turnbull’s works such as Ninja: The True Story of Japan’s Secret Warrior Cult.—Kathleen McCallister, Univ. of South Carolina Lib., Columbia
(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Reviews
Intriguing look at the enigmatic world of the deadly Asian assassin. Historian and travel writer Man (Samurai, 2011, etc.) carefully plumbs the ninja's surprisingly intricate history of stealth strategizing. Popularly thought of as "comic-book creatures," the author re-establishes the folklore of these fearless "shadow warriors" and examines their historical roots in China, where a "proto-ninja" was first thought to have been enlisted. Shrouded in secrecy, these commissioned, intuitive masters of disguise were able to covertly insinuate themselves into situations, carry out orders of espionage or sabotage, and just as elusively, slip out unnoticed from even the most well-guarded fortresses. In an early chapter, the author provides a ninja-style how-to guide of self-protection secrets, though the origins of their skill sets are somewhat sketchy. Man postulates that these ninja talents may have arisen from bandits, mountain ascetics called yamabushi or nomadic monks. With a conversational delivery, the author offers a guided tour through Japan's many ninja tourist attractions and fascinating glimpses into the shinobi legacy, which survived a hierarchy of unifiers and shoguns only to eventually acquiesce to Western culture's mythical interpretation of them. In today's world, Man concludes, a good amount of fantasy is necessary to keep the spirit and the lore of the ninja alive. A thoroughly researched, appealing examination of the "original men in black."

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062202659
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
02/18/2014
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
501,958
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)

What People are saying about this

Simon Sebag Montefiore
“One could ask for no better storyteller than John Man.”

Meet the Author

John Man is the author of Attila, Genghis Khan, The Great Wall, Gobi: Tracking the Desert, Ninja, Samurai, and other works. Educated at Oxford and the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, he was awarded Mongolia’s Friendship Medal in 2007.

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Ninja: 1,000 Years of the Shadow Warrior 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Im the real zixzan not the imposter
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Greetings
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A good book by some standards. A little slow. Still a good book for anyone interestested in history.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
o--|============> um rate this 1-5 thanks - thuggninja144
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
O====|::::::::::::::::::::::::::/ T_T
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You little B#$%& i dont know who you think your talking too but mabe you should get your facts straight and think because zixans BROTHER was using his name you stupid skank!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Meh, not helping. Oh, um, Sunsetpaw is kitting at camp. That's where she is. And I'm not going to be at camp for it...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Helo im new...... im also looking fer a mate
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
THIS IS MY KATANA BLADE!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Zixzan is locked out and says to go to dog result one
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sighs
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Waks in. Is so stealthy that even Ninjastar doen't notice him come in. Stands in a corner and says, "Greetings."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Go to reunion res 2. We have kat celestia and rissencrest
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
U on?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bye
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Right.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hello