Non-recommended Books

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Non-recommended Books

Post by IG Team » Thu Jun 16, 2016 8:20 pm

Musashi

"A history of warfare" by Fieldmarshal Montgomery.

On the first look, it's pretty neat, a look at the history of warfare, but when one bothers reading it, it's pretty clear that "Monty" is pretty much writing it from a completely biased and horribly arrogant British point of view (which is funny, especially when you consider that, by the time he was writing it, the British Empire had already, more or less, fallen apart). He, too, features a look at Japan. There are many odd, partly even outright stupid, claims he brings up. Just a few:

The Japanese -in any era- offered the God of War a human sacrifize before every military campaign.

There were two kinds of swords. (He's only referring to katana and wakizashi)

The primary weapon was the bow, the secondary the sword (while we know that, prior to the Edo period, the preferred weapon of a samurai was... the spear).

Battles were large scale duels (which can be contradicted easily by a look at the sophisticated battle formations used during the Sengoku period).

He, repeatedly calls seppuku "hara kiri", and obviously has never grasped the concept of bushido. He also calls Ieyasu a "chieftain", as if Ieyasu was the leader of some oddball tribe somewhere in the ass end of nowhere.

According to him, ashigaru were only peasant soldiers, who did nothing else but pillaging and plundering villages. Also, they didn't wear any armor and had only one weapon (strikes me as odd, when looking at paintings showing Nagashino or Sekigahara; and Hideyoshi would bite his head off for this).

Oda Nobunaga organized the building of fotresses and ships following European examples and became Shogun in 1573. Additionally, Oda Nobunaga had no interest in military business and left everything that had to do with the military exclusively to Hideyoshi and Ieyasu.

The battle of Sekigahara was in 1609 (I admit, there is a slight discrepancy with the Japanese and European date of the battle, since 1600 in the Japanese calender was a bit odd, but being 9 years off... that's a shame).

He also claims that the Chinese culture is only half as old as the European.

Most interestingly, he doesn't mention William Adams and the short English trade monopoly that was later taken over by the Dutch.

Personally, I never really understood the hype about "Monty", I consider him as a very overrated field commander (pretty much like his famous opponent Erwin Rommel, who, too, is a legend without any justification of this status), but ever since I read this book I think he was a total jackass. I can't really say what was more appalling when reading it, his outright stupidity or his complete ignorance and arrogance towards everything that was not British.

I won't go into his comments about WW2. Honestly, would he still be alive today, I'd write him a "nice" letter.

Monty wrote this in the 1960s though. You'd think people would have learned a bit more about Japan by that time, especially someone with the education of Monty. I don't think MacArthur would have written something like that.

But if you think that's worse, read one of Stephen Hayes' books. On a second thought, don't, you'll tear your hair out, that's how stupid his books are. I actually did, after I heard about him on samurai-archives.com. After some 20 or 25 pages I stopped, I just couldn't take it anymore.

Here are some of his claims:

1) Ninja carried straight swords and wore black (we know that the "ninjato", as we know it from western movies only, never existed. Shinobi carried the same weapons as samurai, and, interestingly, straight swords NEVER appear in Japanese movies (and if, then they're clearly NOT your standard katana-derivate, but some oddball special constructions, like in Zatoichi or Shurayukihime); and frankly, only a full scale idiot would wear black at night).

How did the black suit come into existence? It's so easy. Let's say, there was a writer in the Edo period, let's call him Masahiro. Masahiro was writing a kabuki play that would include a shinobi. Now he has a problem. The shinobi in one scene must be on the stage, but he must be invisible as well. How to do that? Then Masahiro remembers the stage staff on kabuki and bunraku stages. They're dressed... black, which indicates that they are invisible. So... why not dress the shinobi black? People in the audience would understand that he's invisible! Brilliant!

Now the sad part of this story is... somewhere in the 1860s a few dumbass foreigners would see such a play and see the black clothed shinobi and would think "shinobi always wear black".

2) Ninja were their own "caste" and inferior to the samurai. (Bull... the two most famous shinobi ever were, in fact, samurai. Hattori Hanzo and Yagyu Jubei; I only say... family names, only samurai had those)

3) Ninja used tactics considered to be "dishonorable" by samurai. (Makes me wonder how an Oda Nobunaga ever took an enemy fortress if this was true; Also, dishonorable compared to what? Nobunaga was killed by one of his own generals, a samurai; And during the Sengoku period everything was allowed, spying, treason, hostage taking, etc. Bushido didn't appear until the Edo period).

Amusingly he always uses the term "ninja", which, too, too, didn't really appear until the Edo period. And what's more funny, he and his wife claim that there are modern "ninja", now consider that he's trying to sell his oddball "nin-jutsu" techniques, too... Not that actual nin-jutsu is actually taught anywhere these days anymore, after all, it's the "art of stealth" and would include things like how to camouflage oneself properly, how to infiltrate a building or a fortress, maybe lockpicking, wilderness survival skills, etc. What you have as "nin-jutsu" these days is nothing more than some oddball martial art that stole parts from karate, aikido, etc.

I should start making money off the stupidity of people, too.

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