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Book; The Maker of Modern Japan, The Life of Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu
In the course of Japanese history, there have been five great military leaders,
Taira No Kiyomori and Minamoto No Yoritomo, both in the 12th Century,
while in the 16th Century there was Oda Nobunaga, followed by Toyotomi Hideyoshi and
finally Tokugawa Ieyasu.
Ieyasu was a cunning, ruthless leader, a skilled warrior, brilliant tactician and a shrewd statesman.
Why, can be easily ascertained through Professor Sadlers’ heavily researched, finely detailed and
exciting book. It takes the reader from Ieyasu’s birthplace in Okazaki Castle, through his years
as a child hostage to his father’s enemies, to the battle of Okehazama and his freedom.
We read about his near annihilation at the Battle of Mikatagahara, achieving victory at Nagashino
alongside former enemy Oda Nobunaga, stalemate at the Battle of Komaki Nagakute, his rise to
power and influence and the ultimate battle for supremacy at Sekigahara. Finally the book closes
with Ieyasu having handed the hereditary position of Shogun to his son and establishing the
Tokugawa bakufu, a government that would continue to rule for some 250 years. Retired to
Sumpu Castle, he retained a tight control over the nation, dying after a short illness in 1616
at the age of 74.
First published in 1937, The Maker of Modern Japan, The Life of Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu,
was quickly recognized as an outstanding contribution to Western knowledge of both this brilliant
military dictator, and of Japanese history。Despite very few black and white illustrations and
some rudimentary maps, this book is a work of art. Written in an easy to follow style,
(the author himself apparently disdained books peppered with references) this volume remains,
even after 70 years, the foremost book on Tokugawa Ieyasu.
Author A.L. Sadler was professor of Oriental Studies at the University of Sydney from 1922 to 1948.
He also served as Professor of Japanese at the Royal Military College of Australia. He wrote a
number of books on Japan and published numerous translations of Japanese literature.
Through this book, the character of Ieyasu comes to life, and the reader finds themselves being
inexplicably drawn to this calculating figure. Tokugawa Ieyasu is without doubt, one of histories
most influential leaders. That he, and this book, aren’t better known in the West is a travesty.
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