Samurai William – Giles Milton

This one’s been on my radar for a while, so I took the opportunity of turning 33 to include it on my birthday wishlist. Et voila (merci a TJBR).

Reading well so far – plenty of late 16C/early 17C history, both of Japan, Asia and the Far East, and of Europe. Quite a change from euro-centric stuff I studied at school, college and university, and the global perspective is fascinating. It’s even inspiring me to dip my toe into reading some popular Economics texts….

So what’s it about? William Adams, a 17C sailor/navigator-pilot/adventurer who wound up living in Japan for more than a decade, and rising to the position of hatamoto in Shogun Ieyasu’s court, becoming fluent in japanese and owning large tracts of land and servants/slaves.

So yes, the story that I’d say provided the inspiration for James Cavell’s Shogun.

Verdict: Well, the Samurai William story off in the second half of the book, to be replaced by that of Richard Cocks, the manager of the English factory in Japan. And that shift of emphasis, and the lack of information on Samurai William, and what became of his Japanese family, was frustrating. That said, I’m sure that Giles Milton made the most of what limited information there is… and my disappointment with the second half of the book reflects the strenght of my enjoyment of the first half.

Buy it: Amazon link