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[personal profile] bobquasit
When I was a teenager my father had a heart attack. He survived, thank goodness, and is still fine these many decades later. But while he was bedridden and convalescing, our neighbors brought all sorts of books over to help him pass the time. They were mostly best-sellers of the time; books that I would never have read on my own, since I was a science-fiction fan.

Shogun was one of them. I'm not sure if Dad read it, but I sure did. And I've read it every six months or so, ever since.

Why? Several reasons:

1. It's incredibly readable. This is one of those amazing books that simply sucks you in and makes you live its story. Clavell had the rare gift of writing, and Shogun was his masterpiece.

2. It's really long. I'm an extremely fast reader, but even I can't get through Shogun in less than a week. And yet every time I finish it, I always wish there was more, and more...I'm lucky that I can re-read it within six months and enjoy it as much as ever.

3. It presents a fascinating and accessible take on an ancient culture. True, it may not be an entirely accurate picture of Japanese society in the 1600s (I just read an article by a scholar that sneered at the book unmercifully, although many scholars are far less negative about the book*). Still, I've learned a little Japanese from the book - enough to help me understand anime a bit better - and while the culture as presented is doubtless over-dramatized, I believe that it has still given me some useful insights into Japanese culture.



* - The article is one of many collected in Learning from Shogun, which is available as a free pdf online:

http://www.columbia.edu/~hds2/learning/Learning_from_shogun_txt.pdf

The specific article was "Japan, Jawpen, and the Attractions of an Opposite" by David Plath. It's the second article in the book, and it starts on page 20 (according to the pagination).

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