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The Hagakure is one of the most influential of all Japanese texts—written nearly 300 years ago by Tsunetomo Yamamoto to summarise the very essence of the Japanese Samurai bushido (“warrior”) spirit. Its influence has been felt throughout the world and yet its existence is scarcely known to many Westerners. This is the first translation to include the complete first two books of the Hagakure and the most reliable and authentic passages contained within the third book; all other English translations published previously have been extremely fragmentary and incomplete. The principal pillars of Bushido are loyalty, filial piety, bravery and mercy. Yamamoto lived his life based on these principles and was willing to sacrifice his own life to bring them to ultimate fruition once his lord died. However, Shogunate law forbade Samurai retainers from taking their lives after their liege and master died, so Yamamoto became a monk instead—spending the last years of life in seclusion recording his wisdom and insights in the Hagakure for the edification and training of future Samurai warriors in the essence of bushido. Alex Bennett’s completely new and highly readable translation of this essential work is the only full version of the Hagakure published to date. Its extensive footnotes fill in many cultural and historical gaps found in previous translations. This unique combination of readability and scholarship gives Bennett’s translation a distinct advantage over all other English editions of this work. Reading this compendium of tales of a faithful and devoted samurai provides a unique insight into the nature of samurai service and its role in Japanese history and society until today.

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