Why this book?
I first read Shibumi in the 1970s when it was originally published, and it changed my entire philosophy about life. The cast of characters, led by assassin Nicholai Hel, his concubine Hana, and other characters are exquisitely well drawn, and each has their own distinct character traits, some endearing and others truly despicable. The book is at once exciting, sexy, funny, satirical, philosophical, and educational. Readers learn about Japanese, Chinese, and Basque cultures, World War II history, and even spelunking, all the while Nicolai deals with the evil forces of the CIA, NSA, MI5, and MI6. A brilliant writer, Trevanian was also a philosopher of sorts, giving us his take on society and how we relate to one another. One of those books that hold up well over time and you just never forget.
Why should I read it?
What is this book about?
Nicholai Hel is the world’s most wanted man. Born in Shanghai during the chaos of World War I, he is the son of an aristocratic Russian mother and a mysterious German father and is the protégé of a Japanese Go master. Hel survived the destruction of Hiroshima to emerge as the world’s most artful lover and its most accomplished—and well-paid—assassin. Hel is a genius, a mystic, and a master of language and culture, and his secret…