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Ninja
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Ninja
A History
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The definitive history of the ninja, based on a wealth of historical texts, local Japanese sources, and John Man's own treks across Asia"An immensely entertaining history, packed with splendidly...
The definitive history of the ninja, based on a wealth of historical texts, local Japanese sources, and John Man's own treks across Asia"An immensely entertaining history, packed with splendidly...
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  • The definitive history of the ninja, based on a wealth of historical texts, local Japanese sources, and John Man's own treks across Asia

    "An immensely entertaining history, packed with splendidly blood-thirsty tales of derring-do, feats of endurance and self-sacrifice." —The Guardian

    Out of the violent chaos of medieval Japan, a remarkable band of peasants rose to become the world's most feared warriors—trained to perfect the art of ninjutsu, the deadly union of martial arts and deception. Today, however, these real life ninjas are overshadowed by legend and pop culture caricatures. Could they fly? Climb walls? Make themselves invisible?

    Drawing on a wealth of historical texts, local Japanese sources, and his own comprehensive treks across Asia, acclaimed author John Man takes us back to the ninjas' origins in China, through to their heyday in the bloody civil wars that ended with the unification of Japan in 1600. Man also illuminates the twentieth-century reemergence of the Japanese tradition of shadow warfare through the Nakano Spy School—the elite military-intelligence academy that operated as an extensive spy network during World War II—and reveals one former Nakano soldier, Onoda Hiroo, who may be the last surviving ninja.

    Compelling and absorbing, Ninja reveals at last the fascinating true history behind one of the world's most enduring legends.

About the Author-

  • John Man is the author of Attila, Genghis Khan, The Great Wall, Gobi: Tracking the Desert, Ninja, Samurai, and other works. Educated at Oxford and the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies, he was awarded Mongolia's Friendship Medal in 2007.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    February 11, 2013
    A historian and travel writer specializing in Asia, Man exposes the history of the secretive ninja, a.k.a. shinobi, and differentiates him from his public counterpart, the samurai. Unlike the latter, the survivalist ninja eschewed self-sacrifice and the seppuku (hara-kiri) ordeal, aiming to "get close to the enemy" in order "to learn and return." Westerners recognize ninjas as "sinister men in black" acting as "spies, scouts, surprise attackers, and agitators," but may not realize they originated in the old Japanese provinces of Iga and Koga as peasant farmers linked to neighbors and communities in self-defense networks. Man explains other salient figures of the ninja heyday (1400-1600C.E.) like the shogun (chief samurai and military dictator) and daimyo (feudal lord). As experts in covert warfare, ninjas underwent extensive training including the casting of spells, which were "useful but not infallible." Ninjas were believed to "guarantee a quick victory" during wartime, up until their 17th century demise. Man employs humor and a casual, travelogue style, interposing relevant personal anecdotes to illustrate how the ninja's day is long past, or else his art of invisibility is more effective than ever.

  • The Guardian "An immensely entertaining history, packed with splendidly blood-thirsty tales of derring-do, feats of endurance and self-sacrifice."
  • Literary Review "Ninja is a racy popular history of a difficult and often mythologised subject and should appeal to the armchair warrior in us all."
  • Simon Sebag Montefiore, author of Jerusalem: The Biography "One could ask for no better storyteller than John Man."
  • Kirkus Reviews "An intriguing look at the enigmatic world of the deadly Asian assassin. ... Fascinating. ... A thoroughly researched, appealing examination of the original 'men in black.'"
  • Bookreporter.com "As colorful and intriguing as the warriors it so vividly brings to life."

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