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The Forty-Seven Rōnin
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The Forty-Seven Rōnin vendetta is one of the most famous incidents in Japanese history, but it is also one of the most misunderstood. John A. Tucker seeks to provide a credible account of the vendetta and its afterlife in history. He suggests that, when considered historically and holistically, the vendetta appears as a site of contested cultural ground, with conflicts, disagreements, and debates characterizing its three-century history far more than cultural unanimity about its values, virtues, and icons. Tucker narrates the incident as the historical event that it was, within the context of Tokugawa social, political, cultural, and spiritual history, before exploring the vendetta as conflicted cultural ground, generating a steady flow of essays, novels, plays, and ideologically driven expressions intrinsic to the course of Japanese history. This engaging, accessible study provides insights into ways in which events and debates from early modern history have continued to inform developments in modern Japan.


‘The definitive book-length study by a uniquely qualified scholar of one of Japanese history's most contested events, the Akō rōnin vendetta. Using primary sources, John A. Tucker details the complexity of the event itself, which pitted private morality against the feudal social order, and then traces its three centuries of enduring fascination in the popular imagination.'

Peter Nosco - University of British Columbia, Vancouver

‘Few stories from Japan are more powerful, more provocative, or more elastic than that of the heroic (or villainous) Forty-Seven Rōnin. Tucker's exegesis is a masterful engagement with this classic tale, its myriad interpretations, and its various forms of social and cultural impact. With characteristic sensitivity and impressive scholarship, Tucker develops the central concept of vendetta into a force of historical richness and importance.'

Chris Goto-Jones - University of Victoria, British Columbia

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