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Samurai Rising
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Samurai Rising
The Epic Life of Minamoto Yoshitsune
Minamoto Yoshitsune should not have been a samurai. But his story is legend in this real-life saga. This epic warrior tale reads like a novel, but this is the true story of the greatest samurai in...
Minamoto Yoshitsune should not have been a samurai. But his story is legend in this real-life saga. This epic warrior tale reads like a novel, but this is the true story of the greatest samurai in...
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  • Minamoto Yoshitsune should not have been a samurai. But his story is legend in this real-life saga.
    This epic warrior tale reads like a novel, but this is the true story of the greatest samurai in Japanese history.
    When Yoshitsune was just a baby, his father went to war with a rival samurai family—and lost. His father was killed, his mother captured, and his surviving half-brother banished. Yoshitsune was sent away to live in a monastery. Skinny, small, and unskilled in the warrior arts, he nevertheless escaped and learned the ways of the samurai. When the time came for the Minamoto clan to rise up against their enemies, Yoshitsune answered the call. His daring feats and impossible bravery earned him immortality.
    From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpts-

  • From the book Few warriors are as famous as the Japanese samurai. We rememberthose beautiful swords and those fearsome helmets. Werecall, with both horror and fascination, how some chose to endtheir own lives. But no one can understand the Japanese samuraiwithout knowing Minamoto Yoshitsune.Yoshitsune's story unfolds in the late twelfth century,during the adolescence of the samurai. Yes, cultures have theiryouth, maturity, and old age, just as people do. During Yoshitsune'slifetime the samurai awakened. Their culture was bold,rebellious, and eager to flex its muscle. The samurai would ultimatelydestroy Japan's old way of life and forge a new oneusing fire and steel and pain.Yoshitsune was at the very heart of this samurai rising.Hostage, runaway, fugitive, rebel, and hero, he became themost famous warrior in Japanese history. The reason is simple:Yoshitsune was the kind of man other samurai longed to be.

About the Author-

  • PAMELA S. TURNER is the author of Life on Earth—and Beyond, The Dolphins of Shark Bay (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), and the Orbis Pictus Honor Book The Frog Scientist (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). Pamela lives in Oakland, California.
    Back in college GARETH HINDS sketched legendary scenes from Yoshitsune's life—just for fun. Today he is the creator of highly acclaimed graphic-novel adaptions of Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, The Odyssey, Beowulf, and other classics (Candlewick). Gareth lives in Washington D.C.

Reviews-

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from November 15, 2015
    The life of 12th-century samurai Minamoto Yoshitsune unfolds in this compelling and often shocking nonfiction account. The opening warning doesn't lie: very few people die of natural causes. Even as a baby, Yoshitsune's life is tied to war and honor. After Yoshitsune's father, the leader of the Minamoto samurai, kidnaps the Retired Emperor as payback for favoring rival samurai leader Taira Kiyomori, Yoshitsune is taken from his family to live at the Kurama Temple. (His father is later beheaded.) Although he grows up among monks, his warrior heart leads him to escape and seek out samurai training. Soon, he learns that his half brother Yoritomo is rebelling against the Taira. How can Yoshitsune refuse an opportunity to reunite with his kin, avenge his father's murder, and conquer Japan? Turner describes how, with skill, brilliance, and mental toughness that borders on insanity, Yoshitsune attacks the Taira in infamous battles, including an audacious over-the-cliff attack on the fortress Ichi-No-Tani. He becomes a war hero to some, a loathsome figure to others, entering the lore with unforgettable consequences, including institutionalizing the ritual suicide known as seppuku and figuring in art from contemporary medieval songs all the way to modern manga. Samurai life isn't pretty. References to beheadings and seppuku are plentiful and may make some wince. The cast of characters listed becomes a handy guide in keeping up with the Minamotos and Tairas. A well-researched narrative told with true grit. (author's notes, timeline, glossary, chapter notes, bibliography) (Biography. 10-14)

    COPYRIGHT(2015) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    Starred review from December 1, 2015

    Gr 7 Up-Minamoto no Yoshitsune, the 12th-century Heian hero who defeated the rival Taira clan only to be undone by another member of the Minamoto group, is a samurai legend. His rise from obscurity, reckless brilliance in battle, and gruesome end (which helped establish seppuku as part of the warrior code) are irresistible features of a life that ended at age 30. A near-contemporary chronicle, Heike monogatari, and a nemesis's history, Azuma kagami, reporting Yoshitsune's deeds were too thin for the popular imagination, which immediately began embroidering on the sources. Turner unpicks some of the yarn but brightens the colors of what remains so that Yoshitsune, physically a small man, leaps from the pages, larger than life and twice as active. Everyone dies-violently-but the famous ends of Atsumori, Antoku, Kiyomori, and others are moving rather than grim. The text rips along, skillfully engaging teens in many swift turns of events. Historical and cultural references are impressively accurate, and Hinds's fluid brush-and-ink drawings and battle maps add useful detail. Although Turner often uses the word probably, the compelling narrative never strains credulity, and expert tricks help readers navigate Japanese names and sort out relationships. Students will find the 60 pages of endnotes equally fascinating and lively; a seven-page bibliography attests to the serious research behind the vivid (but never simplistic) writing. VERDICT Japanophiles, action lovers, and future historians will all find this book gripping.-Patricia D. Lothrop, St. George's School, Newport, RI

    Copyright 2015 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, *starred review *It's not often that "biography" and "page-turner" come together in one thought, but Turner's tale of the twelfth-century warrior Minamoto Yoshitsune is just the work to draw samurai fans from the manga and movie aisles into the nonfiction shelves. Murder and mayhem, intrigue and ritual suicide, family treachery, stolen royal regalia--Yoshitsune's story has it all, as rival Taira and Minamoto families vie for control in a power vacuum left by a weak Retired Emperor. Raised in a secluded monastery, Yoshitsune ran away and trained to be a samurai at fifteen, well past the age when boys usually acquired their skills. Under the aegis of his elder half-brother Yoritomo, Yoshitsune won a string of battles against the Taira but instead of lauding his victories, Yoritomo saw his brother as a threat and often subtly but publicly berated him. This only seemed to make Yoshitsune more focused on earning the honor due him, and by the tragic end of his career, he had become a popular figure bound for history and legend. Turner navigates the complex family and court relationships with commendable ease, occasionally tossing in a wry remark that supplies a touch of comic relief in so gory a tale: "When your half-brother sends assassins to kill you, it's a strong hint that your relationship is beyond repair." Plenty of support is also offered to readers making their first foray into the samurai world: a list of characters and places is located before the introduction; timeline, glossary (with pronunciations), and index can be found at the end. Annotated chapter notes state whether information is drawn from history or legend, and they remark on where traces of Yoshitsune's adventures can be found in present-day Japan. Hand this to long-faced kids whining that they "have to write a history report."

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