Shinsengumi: The Shogun's Last Samurai Corps
By Romulus Hillsborough; Tuttle Publishing, 2005
FROM FRONT COVER FLAP:
"The fall of the Tokugawa Shogunate, which ruled Japan for over two and a half centuries (1603-1868), was the greatest event in modern Japanese history.
The revolution, known as the Meiji Restoration, began with the violent reaction of samurai to the shogun's decision in 1854 to open the theretofore isolated nation to "Western barbarians." Though opening the country was unavoidable, it was seen as a sign of weakness by the samurai who clamored to "expel the barbarians."
Those samurai plotted to overthrow the shogun and restore the holy emperor to his ancient seat of power. Screaming "heaven's revenge," they wielded their swords with a vengeance upon those loyal to the shogun.
They unleashed a wave of terror at the center of the revolution--the emperor's capital of Kyoto. Murder and assassination were rampant. By the end of 1862, hordes of angry, renegade samurai, called ronin, had transformed the streets of the Imperial Capital into a "sea of blood."
The shogun's administrators were desperate to stop the terror. A band of expert swordsmen was formed. They were given the name Shinsengumi (or "Newly Selected Corps")--and commissioned to eliminate the ronin and other enemies of the Shogunate.
With unrestrained brutality bolstered by an official sanction to kill, the Shinsengumi became the shogun's most dreaded security force.
In this vivid historical narrative of the Shinsengumi, the first ever in the English language, author Romulus Hillsborough uses letters, memoirs, interviews and eyewitness accounts to paint a provocative and thrilling picture of this fascinating period in Japanese history."
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