Sunday, April 9, 2017

4 Ninja Stars for "True Path of the Ninja" by Antony Cummins and Yoshie Minami

In the interest of full disclosure, I was given this book for review purposes.

Title: True Path of the Ninja-The Definitive Translation of the Shoninki
Author: Antony Cummins and Yoshie Minami
Publisher: Tuttle
Format: Softcover
Pages: 192
Cover Price: $12.95

Take Away: A great portrayal of what and who the real ninja were.

    I had read another of Mr Cummins, and Ms. Minami's books before (The Last Samurai School, and Samurai and Ninja) and I always appreciate the translations that they provide.  I even interviewed Mr Cummins on the Martial Thoughts Podcast (Episode XX).  The authors job is to translate real ninja scrolls as well as provide comment on them to explain what they really mean.  Their books always provide some background to make sure the reader understands both the context and the connotation that was undoubtedly written into the scrolls.


    The book is a translation of Natori Masazumi's Shoninki.  It includes several sections on how to infiltrate enemy areas, how to gain information while there, and how to in effect, "think" like a ninja.


    The writing is one of the strong points of this book.  The translations are done very well, to the point that it is easy to read and understand as a modern English speaker.  Before each section of the scroll, the authors give a small, couple paragraph introduction on what is contained in that particular section.  I believe this helped the reader be able to understand each of the translated sections even better.


    The one problem I have isn't with the book or the authors at all.  It is with the scroll that was translated itself.  This was the last scroll that a ninja was supposed to be familiar with.  So it kind of glances over some of the more "ninja-like" stuff such as the equipment and weapons.  However, those are found in the other books.  Those items are not in the purview of this particular scroll, so I cannot find fault with that.


    Overall, I had a good time reading this book.  I mean come on...What part of NINJA SCROLL wouldn't be exciting to you?  As I said, the book was well written and the information was easily accessible.  It gave you the big picture aspect of being a ninja in the times when ninja were employed. I enjoyed how they passed down the ideas of infiltration, not by sneaking in all ninja-like, but by disguising yourself as wood cutter, or a begger, and walking around town.  Any book that says "bribe the clergy with gold" has to be good, right?  So overall I'm going to give this book 4 out of 5 Ninja Stars because it is a good read, the subject matter is interesting, and well presented.  I just think because of the way the original scroll was to be used, it felt as if you were missing something when reading it.  

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