Seppuku: A History of Samurai Suicideby Andrew Rankin
This astonishing book charts the history and practice of ritual samurai suicide from ancient times until the 20th century through primary sources, both literary and historical, many of them never before translated into English. The author has worked from documents such as medieval war tales, records of the samurai domains, and execution handbooks. The book benefits
This astonishing book charts the history and practice of ritual samurai suicide from ancient times until the 20th century through primary sources, both literary and historical, many of them never before translated into English. The author has worked from documents such as medieval war tales, records of the samurai domains, and execution handbooks. The book benefits from an extensive introduction, footnotes, and bibliography, but is written also to appeal to the general reader. It is divided into four basic sections: "History to 1600" looks at cases of ritual suicide taken from historical texts from the 8th to the 17th century. "The Seppuku Ritual" draws on previously untranslated seppuku manuals from the 18th and 19th centuries to explain the correct procedure and etiquette, as well as the different stomach-cutting procedures, types of swords, attire, location, and even the refreshments served at the seppuku ceremony. "History after 1600" focuses on famed cases up to and including the 20th century, and "Paradigms" offers a selection of short quotations from authors and commentators down the centuries that sum up Japanese and non-Japanese attitudes to seppuku.
"As for when to die, make sure you are one step ahead of everyone else. Never pull back from the brink. But be aware that there are times when you should die, and times when you should not. Die at the right moment and you will be a hero. Die at the wrong moment, and you will die like a dog." Izawa Nagahide, The Warrior's Code, 1725
- Kodansha USA
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- 5.30(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.90(d)
Meet the Author
Andrew Rankin was educated at the universities of London (SOAS), Tokyo, and Cambridge, and lived in Japan for many years.
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This is a very well written book using parts of history to explain what did or may have happened. When I was in college, I signed up for a course called History of the Far East. by the third class my head was swimming trying to keep up with all of the names and the names of the different clans. I dropped the class after the fourth session because I had no idea how to keep up with all of the names. I once again had a difficult time with the names although it did get easier toward the end of the book. If languages are easy to you then this will be a easy read. One thing I did not know was there is a different name for different types of stomach cutting. Poor people have one kind, relatives have a kind and the list goes on and on. It is quite interesting that this book does away with what most people think about belly cutting. This term, belly cutting, is used quite a bit in the book and even with different names, it all goes back to the term belly cutting. Since I have never read a book with this as the main subject, I cannot compare it to another writer. I will say it is well worth the money and time to read the book. Just a note. The class started with 25 people, ten took the final, 3 passed the class.