I received a copy of Samurai History: A Beginner’s Guide from Vincent in return for a review along with a request to leave a review on Amazon. My first problem was finding an author name. Vincent sounds OK but it seems there might be more to the author name than that. I live in Indonesia where many people claim ownership of only one name, but this did not seem to be the case here. Beyond that, I couldn’t find the book on Amazon. I queried the person who sent me the request. The answer I received was “There is no author mentioned in the Book because it is an outsourced Book. Vincent holds all publishing and book rights to the Book so you can simply use Vincent as the author if you need to.” This makes me feel like I am part of a dark conspiracy to avoid something. So, for anyone else asking for a review of an “outsourced book,” sorry, I don’t do this anymore. On the other hand, I received a link to the book on the Amazon site. I have no idea why I could not access it earlier.
This is an 18-page six-chapter non-fiction book delivered to me in PDF format. Its use of specific dates leads me to believe it is a non-fiction book. The absence of any references is a serious weakness. I don’t even know Vincent’s last name; it is difficult for me to trust him as a historian.
If the book started out with chapter one, it would have been a better piece. But Vincent started out with an introduction written in the tone of a car salesman. It gave me no information but assured me I would be a better person for having read the book. One example: “It’s time for you to become an amazingly informed reader on the samurai basics. Samurai History is sure to provide nothing short of an enriching reading experience.” There is no information here, as is true for the rest of the Introduction chapter. Advertising hype, for me, is annoying.
Chapters one through six are essentially a collection of headlines and topics. A reader could not expect much more in 18 pages. Thus, the need for references.
In chapter one we have this: “The Ashikaga shoguns embraced culture more than its first and third warrior government counterparts. They led the samurai by example in their patronage of calligraphy, Kabuki, ink painting, the Noh Theater, and Chado – also known as the “Way of Tea.” I looked back to see if this segment was about the second warrior government; it was. I know nothing about the Noh Theater or Chado. A list of references would have helped; it could replace the annoying introduction (but not in the same place).
In chapter 2 we have: “Bushido is employed in the social structure of present day Japan and also is popular as a business model worldwide, in various forms.” And I wonder what these forms are. Examples would be nice. If no examples, please give references.
“Bushido also has also played a huge role in martial arts throughout the years and on every continent.” I guess I have to trust the writer on this but I have doubts about Antarctica.
In chapter 3: “The samurai actually were often highly encouraged to read and write full-length books, which included some of the world’s earliest novelizations.” References would be great here. The unreferenced opinion screams for a specific reference. And that is without considering what a “novelization” might be.
In chapter 4: “Naginata: The naginata was a polearm that was used by samurai foot soldiers in combat.” That comment could have been left out. Its absence, just like its presence, left my knowledge base unaffected.
In chapter 5: “Weapons. The samurai crafted many weapons, some of which are still made today.” I wonder what any of them are. Examples? References?
In chapter 6: “The research of other battleground sites has yielded, again and again, similar results.” OK, so research was done, the writer just doesn’t want to show sources. Got it.
I have no idea why this was written. What was the purpose? I doubt it was done as an academic paper (no references, no citations, no page numbers). Who was or is the intended audience? If it was for me, Vincent missed the mark.