Written many years after the age of the samurai, Nitobe reaches back in time, through legend, folklore, and history to bring forth romantic accounts of the “soul of Japan”, the “bushido” of the nation. He identifies it from the outset of the book as a living, breathing, organic element of Japanese identity, not a fossilized item locked in a box, or something to be cataloged and forgotten.

This is a book that does some comparative analysis and perhaps “stretches” between Japanese and Western culture, even to the point of drawing Biblical parallels. I thought that was interesting, not so much in terms of it being a viable notion, but more that the book really speaks from the time in which it was written where writers of the turn of the century (the book was published in 1905) were quite keen to find similarities between such diverse cultures.

The snippets and examples of “great samurai” are throughout, and Nitobe originally wrote this book in English. The style is excellent and a delight to read.