In 1611, the merchants of London's East India Company received a mysterious letter from Japan, written several years previously by a marooned English mariner named William Adams. Foreigners had been denied access to Japan for centuries, yet Adams had been living in this unknown land for years. He had risen to the highest levels in the ruling shogun's court, taken a Japanese name, and was now offering his services as adviser and interpreter.
Seven adventurers were sent to Japan with orders to find and befriend Adams, in the belief that he held the key to exploiting the opulent riches of this forbidden land. Their arrival was to prove a momentous event in the history of Japan, and the shogun suddenly found himself facing a stark choice: to expel the foreigners and continue with his policy of isolation, or to open his country to the world. For more than a decade the English, helped by Adams, were to attempt trade with the shogun, but confounded by a culture so different from their own, and hounded by scheming Jesuit monks and fearsome Dutch assassins, they found themselves in a desperate battle for their lives.
Samurai William is the fascinating story of a clash of two cultures, and of the enormous impact one Westerner had on the opening of the East.
Literary Review - Martin Booth
... more than a readable populist history about the Westerner in the Orient; it is a glimpse into a bygone age of trade, war and cultural collision.
Publisher's Weekly - Steven I. Levine
Milton is a gifted storyteller with an eye for the graphic, often gruesome, detail. This is the kind of page turner that will keep you up way past your bedtime.
Milton has the knack for pointing out in history's vast tapestry those portions we most want to stare at. A remarkable tale that might have fallen from the inventive lips of Scheherazade.
Booklist - Kristine Huntley
Milton gives the exciting story both immediacy and flair; the bright, bustling world of seventeenth-century Japan comes alive through his pen, as do the many dangers and adventures Adams and his comrades face. This is history writing at its finest.
The Sunday Times - Katie Hickman
Giles Milton has once again shown himself to be a master of historical narrative. The story of William Adams is a gripping tale of Jacobean derring-do, a fizzing, real-life, Boy's Own adventure underpinned by genuine scholarship.
The Scotsman - Allan Spence
Milton's account of this remarkable life is rich in historical detail . . . It's a page-turner of a book, a good read, [and] an accessible, well-crafted piece of popularised history.
Lovingly researched and strikingly written.
Glasgow Herald - Hugh MacDonald
Milton brings his customary panache to his latest work. Samurai William is swash-buckling in its scale and execution.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
I've just read this book, and was spell bound. I found it to be informative, providing the much needed historical context both from the the Japanese and European perspectives.
As one who has spent the last 20 years in Japan, I'd say this is... Read More
Rated of 5
by Damien Noonan
What a fantastic book! Anyone who has a love of swashbuckling tales, sea faring, battle and medieval mindsets and cruelties of both English and Japanese peoples will relish this book. I was given the rare thrill of traveling alongside these bold... Read More
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