Books that I’m reading, considering, enjoying and lambasting.

You remember that book Shogun by James Clavell? It was one of the first books I read after moving to Japan and I was simultaneously engrossed in the Japanese history, and annoyed by the cloying writing and narrative. For anyone who reacted similarly, Giles Milton has written Samurai William, the truer story of the same character. All the fascinating history, in a compelling narrative, without any of the saccharin ooze of Shogun.

 

 

 

An open-veined cry for kinder politics, kinder social systems, and a return to the progressive incline that characterized the growth of western democracies up until the eighties. Title aside, which I find a bit heavy handed, the book is actually quite optimistic, itemizing various steps and priorities that could be made that would get us back on track. I found myself spinning his ideas for weeks afterwards, and his insights came up in several conversations.

 

 

This book has haunted me for decades. Seriously. I probably read it last when I was ten. Then, while digging through stuff in my mother’s basement, I came across it again. I realized that through all the purges that my possessions have endured, and there have been many, this book survived. For some reason, with zero recall of its content, it maintained a hold on me. So, on a warm September afternoon, I lay out on a deck chair and read it cover to cover. I couldn’t put it down. A little research proved that it was the mid volume in a trilogy, all of which are out of print. After reading, I considered finally letting it go… Clearly a hopeless thought. Still, it sits on my shelf.

 

 

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