A Brief History of The Samurai
Constable & Robinson Ltd.
The amazon.com product description:
From a leading expert in Japanese history, this is one of the first full histories of the art and culture of the samurai warrior. The samurai emerged as a warrior caste in medieval Japan and would have a powerful influence on the history and culture of the country for the next 500 years.Another non-fiction book on the history of Japan. And, another quick read, as I started and finished the book yesterday. They call it a brief history, and I think it is. The book covers from some time in the 7th century up to modern day. That is, some fourteen hundred years in 320 pages, not including notes or the index. Definitely an interesting overview.
I think this makes a good book for someone who's just starting out in reading about the history. Not too detailed, but clear and understandable. The best feature for someone new to the subject is the bibliography/suggested reading section. There's plenty of material there to look up after reading this book and keep studying.
A Brief History of the Samurai is very much a "names and dates" type history book though. But then, with just over three hundred pages to cover so much time, it's hard for it to be anything else, really. And there are all the books in the further reading to take you off in other directions if that's what you want.
Overall, I'd say this is a good starting point book to get a basic overview of Japanese history.