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Art of the Samurai

edited by Morihiro Ogawa, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2009, $45

Produced in conjunction with the Met’s recent exhibition “Art of the Samurai: Japanese Arms and Armor, 1156–1868”, this comprehensive and profusely illustrated volume explores in rich detail the history, manufacture, development and significance of that legendary warrior caste’s weapons, accoutrements and clothing. It is at once a fascinating tour of a now-vanished culture and a deftly nuanced rumination on the ways in which warriors seek to obscure—often for themselves— the cruel realities of their trade through artistic embellishment of the very tools of that trade. This 344-page tome— weighty in terms of both physical mass and intellectual content—is a fascinating and immensely fulfilling read that manages to succeed as both art book and history lesson.


Originally published in the March 2010 issue of Military History. To subscribe, click here