Электронная книга: Mark Ravina «The Last Samurai. The Life and Battles of Saigo Takamori»

The Last Samurai. The Life and Battles of Saigo Takamori

The dramatic arc of Saigo Takamori's life, from his humble origins as a lowly samurai, to national leadership, to his death as a rebel leader, has captivated generations of Japanese readers and now Americans as well– his life is the inspiration for a major Hollywood film, The Last Samurai, starring Tom Cruise and Ken Watanabe. In this vibrant new biography, Mark Ravina, professor of history and Director of East Asian Studies at Emory University, explores the facts behind Hollywood storytelling and Japanese legends, and explains the passion and poignancy of Saigo's life. Known both for his scholarly research and his appearances on The History Channel, Ravina recreates the world in which Saigo lived and died, the last days of the samurai. The Last Samurai traces Saigo's life from his early days as a tax clerk in far southwestern Japan, through his rise to national prominence as a fierce imperial loyalist. Saigo was twice exiled for his political activities– sent to Japan's remote southwestern islands where he fully expected to die. But exile only increased his reputation for loyalty, and in 1864 he was brought back to the capital to help his lord fight for the restoration of the emperor. In 1868, Saigo commanded his lord's forces in the battles which toppled the shogunate and he became and leader in the emperor Meiji's new government. But Saigo found only anguish in national leadership. He understood the need for a modern conscript army but longed for the days of the traditional warrior. Saigo hoped to die in service to the emperor. In 1873, he sought appointment as envoy to Korea, where he planned to demand that the Korean king show deference to the Japanese emperor, drawing his sword, if necessary, top defend imperial honor. Denied this chance to show his courage and loyalty, he retreated to his homeland and spent his last years as a schoolteacher, training samurai boys in frugality, honesty, and courage. In 1876, when the government stripped samurai of their swords, Saigo's followers rose in rebellion and Saigo became their reluctant leader. His insurrection became the bloodiest war Japan had seen in centuries, killing over 12,000 men on both sides and nearly bankrupting the new imperial government. The imperial government denounced Saigo as a rebel and a traitor, but their propaganda could not overcome his fame and in 1889, twelve years after his death, the government relented, pardoned Saigo of all crimes, and posthumously restored him to imperial court rank. In THE LAST SAMURAI, Saigo is as compelling a character as Robert E. Lee was to Americans-a great and noble warrior who followed the dictates of honor and loyalty, even though it meant civil war in a country to which he'd devoted his life. Saigo's life is a fascinating look into Japanese feudal society and a history of a country as it struggled between its long traditions and the dictates of a modern future.

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ISBN: 9780471690375

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Mark Ravina

Mark Ravina is a scholar of early modern Japanese history, and Associate Professor of History at Emory University, where he has taught since 1991. Outside of academic circles, he is likely most well known for his book The Last Samurai: the Life and Battles of Saigō Takamori, published in 2004.

Much of Ravina's scholarly work centers on notions of national identity and state-building in early modern Japan. Land and Lordship in Early Modern Japan, published in 1999, and thus far his only other book besides The Last Samurai, centers on this topic, as do a number of journal articles and talks given by Ravina. He is one of only a few scholars actively working to challenge those who equate the Tokugawa shogunate's authority with the "state" in Japan in this period. Working off of the ideas and terms coined by Takeshi Mizubayashi, Ravina explores the notion of a "compound state"[1] in which the daimyō (feudal lords) are not merely governors in the service of the Tokugawa regime, but rulers of semi-independent states within the greater Tokugawa state. This alternative to the traditional view of a monolithic, unified Edo period Japanese state invites not only rethinking of a great many aspects of Edo period history, but also engages with a wider ongoing scholarly discourse on the notions of "nation" and "state" in general. Numerous scholars, including Luke S. Roberts, Ronald Toby and John Whitney Hall have made reference to his work, engaging with it in their own pursuits of a reexamination of notions of statehood and national identity in the Tokugawa period. The influence of this new discourse on statehood is evident in the use of the plural "Japanese States" in the title of the newest book by Timon Screech, a specialist on Edo period art history: The Shogun's Painted Culture: Fear and Creativity in the Japanese States, 1760-1829.

Land and Lordship was translated into Japanese and released as Meikun no satetsu in 2004.

Ravina also served as a guest consultant in two documentary films about the samurai and Tokugawa Japan in 2003, following upon the success of the film The Last Samurai. The title and subject of his book on Saigō Takamori, upon whom the film's central character Lord Katsumoto was based, was purely coincidence.[2]

Having published a number of articles on state-building and national identity within Tokugawa Japan, Ravina is now turning towards addressing the subject as it pertains to Tokugawa Japan in a more global context.

He earned his BA from Columbia University in 1983, and his MA and PhD from Stanford University in 1988 and 1991 respectively.


Selected publications



  • State-building and Political Economy in Early-modern Japan. The Journal of Asian studies. 54, no. 4, (1995): 997
  • Japanese state-making in Global Context: World culture and Meiji Japan. in Richard Boyd and Tak-wing Ngo (eds.) State Making in Asia 2006. (ISBN 978-0-415-34611-5)
  • State-making in Global Context:Japan in a World of Nation-States. in Joshua Fogel (ed.) The Teleology of the Modern Nation-State: Japan and China. U Penn Press, 2004. (ISBN 978-0-8122-3820-4)


  1. ^ Toby, Ronald. "Rescuing the Nation from History: the State of the State in Early Modern Japan." Monumenta Nipponica 56:2 (2001). p201.
  2. ^ Mark Ravina | in Atlanta, Georgia at the Department of History, Emory University Archived 18 December 2010 at WebCite

External links

Источник: Mark Ravina

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Mark RavinaThe Last Samurai. The Life and Battles of Saigo TakamoriThe dramatic arc of Saigo Takamori's life, from his humble origins as a lowly samurai, to national leadership, to his death as a rebel leader, has captivated generations of Japanese readers and now… — John Wiley&Sons Limited (USD), электронная книга Подробнее...
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