This time out, we've got two reviews by Michael, who begins with a (very) brief one on Russell Freedman's The War To End All Wars: World War I:
The War To End All Wars is a well written book about World War 1. It is an amazing book that you can't stop reading. The book is different than any other book because World War 1 was overshadowed by World War II. You'll learn a lot from it.
Rating: Love it
Michael's second review is a more through one on Margi Preus' Heart of a Samurai:
Manjiro Nakahama was a traditional Japanese fisherman who fished in a small rowboat near the island of Nakahama and rarely ventured far from shore. In 1841, when he was 14, he went fishing with a group of friends and got caught in a storm.The book is about Manjiro Nakahama's survival story. Author Margi Preus was so interested in Manjiro's adventure she wrote a book about it, called Heart of a Samurai. The book is from Manjiro's perspective and details his life from getting stranded at sea to the end of the Edo era in Japan. After getting stuck in the storm, living in the small boat, he and his friends find an island that they manage to survive on. Later a whaling ship saves them and Manjiro goes on the biggest journey of his life.
You will want to read this this 2010 book because it is all about Manjiro a young Japanese boy living in the time of the Sakoku Policy. In this book you learn a lot about Japan at that time.
Here is some background information on the book: In 1639, shortly after Shogun Tokogawa came to power and the Edo Era began, Japan closed it's borders to the outside world. This policy was called Sakoku, and meant that people could not go in or out of Japan. It was formed to protect the Japanese from unwanted foreign influences. When the borders closed, the Shogun did everything he could to protect the Japanese culture from outside influences. The Shogun prohibited any language other than Japanese to be spoken in the country. Christianity was not allowed, and Japanese Christians were persecuted. For the people of Japan living in 1639-1854, the world was hidden from them.
Sakoku made the Japanese unaware of inventions or events that were happening in other parts of the world. However, despite the closed borders, the people enjoyed a rich economic and cultural lifestyle. The isolation brought an extended time of peace. Without the warrior class fighting and stealing money as they did during wartime, this portion of the population had little income and nothing to do. They found themselves borrowing from the merchants who enjoyed a more powerful, useful position in this new economic situation. Social levels were shifting in favor of merchants. Japan was in peace for so many years they not ready when Commodore Mathew Perry threatened to attack them with 7 big ships loaded with cannons. The Japanese had never seen so many large heavily armed ships and were powerless against them. Japan had no choice but to sign a treaty, opening their borders to foreign interests.
Rating: Love it
More reviews from Michael and our other contributors will be appearing in the next several days. To find out how you can submit a review or two, click here.