Title/Author(s): African Samurai: The True Story of Yasuke, a Legendary Black Warrior in Feudal Japan by Thomas Lockley & Geoffrey Girard
Publisher: Hanover Square Press
In a nutshell (Publisher):
The remarkable life of history’s first foreign-born samurai, and his astonishing journey from Northeast Africa to the heights of Japanese society.
When Yasuke arrived in Japan in the late 1500s, he had already traveled much of the known world. Kidnapped as a child, he had ended up a servant and bodyguard to the head of the Jesuits in Asia, with whom he traversed India and China learning multiple languages as he went. His arrival in Kyoto, however, literally caused a riot. Most Japanese people had never seen an African man before, and many of them saw him as the embodiment of the black-skinned (in local tradition) Buddha. Among those who were drawn to his presence was Lord Nobunaga, head of the most powerful clan in Japan, who made Yasuke a samurai in his court. Soon, he was learning the traditions of Japan’s martial arts and ascending the upper echelons of Japanese society.
In the four hundred years since, Yasuke has been known in Japan largely as a legendary, perhaps mythical figure. Now African Samurai presents the never-before-told biography of this unique figure of the sixteenth century, one whose travels between countries, cultures and classes offers a new perspective on race in world history and a vivid portrait of life in medieval Japan.
Verdict: Must-read if you’re intrigued by this subect!
Honestly I had a hard time getting into this book because of its formatting (which I’m sure has been fixed now that it’s published), I find it a little distracting.
Putting that aside I think the authors did an amazing job researching and writing this book. The way it was written made this book accessible to readers, history lovers especially, who are interested in knowing more about the slave trade, warfare and politics, Jessuit missionaries and the effort they made to convert people to Christians during that time period.
I was very intrigued by Yasuke’s life and how he started as a slave then became a bodyguard to the head of the Jesuits in Asia, Valignano. When he arrived in 1579, in Japan, I can imagine the ruckus that surrounded him when he was first seen, as Japanese people have never seen an African man before, let alone one that commanded strength and presence. Not only was he good at his job, but he was able to learn the Japanese language easily too.
Researching about Yasuke wasn’t easy as the author had indicated, as there weren’t much information and resources available pertaining to him. Despite that, this book made for an interesting read.
I’d highly recommend this to history lovers. Take your time in reading this tome. It’s worth it! And the pictures definitely helped bring me back to that time period! I’m getting a copy of this for my dad for his birthday! Oh! Apparently there’ll be a movie made about Yasuke too!
Thank you Netgalley and Hanover Square Press for providing me a free eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Have you read this? What did you think? If you haven’t, do you plan to read it? Please share with me your thoughts!
Thank you for stopping by and HAPPY READING! May the force of good books be with you always!