By James Clavell,

Book cover of Shōgun

Book description

'Clavell never puts a foot wrong . . . Get it, read it, you'll enjoy it mightily' Daily Mirror

This is James Clavell's tour-de-force; an epic saga of one Pilot-Major John Blackthorne, and his integration into the struggles and strife of feudal Japan. Both entertaining and incisive, SHOGUN is a…

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Why read it?

9 authors picked Shōgun as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Shōgun is a historical novel set in 17th-century feudal Japan that is based on the life of an English sailor named Will  Adams who is shipwrecked there.

He became a samurai and a confidant of a warlord based on Ieyasu Tokugawa. It is a meticulously researched and richly detailed novel that combines historical events with fictional characters and storylines, dealing with themes of honor and loyalty in a world of samurai and daimyos.

It also explores relationships between Japanese and European traders, highlighting the clash of Western and Eastern values. At over 560,000 words long, it is a spellbinding narrative…

From Robert's list on learning about life.

I have always been fascinated by the Far East, so when James Clavell published Shōgun, I was enthralled throughout all its many pages. It allowed me to delve into the mysteries of that island nation, so isolated by location and culture from the world I knew.

Years later that fascination was further enriched when I went to work for a Japanese motor vehicle company. My department shared a work area with the Japanese representatives stationed in South Africa for 2 to 3 years, so I was able to build some form of relationship with them. When I visited Japan…

The year is 1600 and finds the hero, Blackthorn shipwrecked just off the shores of Japan. He has a front-row seat in the turbulent metamorphosis of Japan’s society from a society of medieval fiefdoms to a more modern country and the quest of a warlord to unite these fiefdoms and become the Shogun or supreme military commander. The story is told over two books and became a smash TV series.

Clavell works in Japanese phrases in a way it’s understandable by English readers but for me, as an old Latin student, he has Blackthorn and Mariko, who is his guide…

From Jim's list on wars over the ages.

Set in Feudal Japan at the end of the 16th century, Clavell’s towering novel is for me the benchmark for historical epics. It balances sheer adventure with Clavell’s consummate eye for historical detail. If you want action, while feeling totally immersed in another time and culture, then Clavell’s classic is the book for you. I love the way he uses actual people and events to build a plausible and gripping story. Although a little long for contemporary tastes, it remains one of the best books of Asian fiction ever written, and one I come back to again and again.

Set in 1500, an English navigator’s ship crashes off the shores of Japan. He ends up falling into the hands of a determined warlord seeking to become the Shōgun, the ruler of Japan. Caught in a totally isolated, alien world, he struggles to both survive, and learn. Masterfully written, the story contains a classic, but tragic, love story, tons of action, and a life and death struggle for power. Clavell’s intense tale will lift you up and place you right in the center of the world of the Samurai. 

I love this book because it has one of the most interesting characters ever, in one of the most original stories I have ever read. I love any book that has something new I can learn from and Shōgun, takes you into old Japan and subtly makes you fall in love with it. The book taught me storytelling from the introspective angle of the characters. The book helped me become a writer, it put a floodlight on the two most important things in a novel for me, the story and the characters.

From Njedeh's list on original stories that make you think.

This was my first exposure to his Asian Saga, as well as my first immersion into a book that would take me into such a foreign world, and as the protagonist, John Blackthorne, I had to learn to speak Japanese, the culture, and politics. The characters are deep and vast, from England, Holland, Portugal, China to the most mysterious of all, 1600s Japan. Some beloved, others loathsome. With my theme of adventure romance, sweeping sagas, and favorite books, I love characters I laugh, cry, and bleed with. Before there was a video game, this was an interactive book, relentless and…

Shōgun dropped me into the middle of 17th century Japan and allowed me to imagine what it would have been like to live, fight, and survive in a world vastly different than my own. It beautifully pairs the traditions of the past with the excitement of a modern-day action movie. While not always historically accurate, it inspired me to learn more about this time period and even travel to Japan myself.

One of those blockbuster airport novels of the 70s which also just happens to be an outstanding piece of literature. The main characters are fictional but squarely based on historical characters and events.

John Blackthorne is the pilot of a Dutch ship which is shipwrecked in Japan a couple of years before the Battle of Sekigahara (1600). Everything about the Japanese is incomprehensible to Blackthorne but gradually he assimilates and becomes an important piece in the political game being played out between the ruthless and bloodthirsty regents presiding over a very precarious peace.

Another wonderfully experiential novel in which –…

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