Shogun – James Clavell


Englishman John Blackthorne is shipwrecked off the coast of Japan in 1600, and finds himself in an alien world.  There are westerners present, mainly Portuguese Jesuits.  The priests view Blackthorne as a threat, knowing he wants to break their monopoly and encourage trade with Queen Elizabeth I. Blackthorne convinces fuedal warlord Toranaga that his military skills will help him rise to rule Japan.  To learn the culture, he is placed in the home of a local villager.  A translator, the beautiful but torn Mariko, helps him grow ever more eastern.  Blackthorne falls in love with her, even as he plots against the Catholics who oppose England.  After he saves Toranaga’s life, he is elevated to the rank of samurai.  Toranaga becomes Shogun (military dictator) in the end.  Although Clavell’s style is not literary, with many differing points of view, the book is meticulously researched, and provides an intimate look at the history and culture of Japan. 



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