New paperback edition. The true story of the Last Samurai, on which the film with Tom Cruise was loosely based, depicts the tragic world of the brilliant warrior and reluctant rebel caught between tradition and a changing world.
On September 24, 1877, Saigo Takamori, one of Japan's most loyal and honoured samurai, died in the bloodiest conflict Japan had seen in over 200 years - a battle led by Saigyo and his band of loyal students. Now, more than 125 years after his death, Saigyo remains a legendary yet enigmatic figure in Japan. Why would Japan's greatest warrior, whose sole purpose was to serve his country, set in motion a civil war and lead a group of rebel soldiers to overthrow the government that he had personally helped to restore? Saigyo had resigned from government and returned to his native Satsuma to open a military academy for former samurai warriors. His group of disgruntled samurai resented the rapid modernization of Japan even more than did Saigyo. They set forth to slow the hand of change with their swords, making Saigyo the reluctant leader of their uprising. Old Japan and new Japan met in battle - swords against artillery - and old Japan lost. Legend still has it that Saigyo died on the battle field by his own sword, upholding samurai honour to the end.