The Last Shogun by Ryotaro Shiba
The Life of Tokugawa Yoshinobu

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Tokugawa Yoshinobu, born in 1837, came to power thirty years later as the fifteenth successor to the Tokugawa shogunate. Though his ancestral claim and his will to become a shogun were never as powerful as those of his enemies, he far outclassed them. Coming to power just as the Tokugawa regime was suffering the worst military defeat in its history, Yoshinobu strongly suspected that the rule of the Tokugawa -- the third and longest lived of Japan's three warrior governments -- was swiftly becoming an anachronism. During a year of frenetic activity, he overhauled the military systems, reorganized the civil administration, promoted industrial development, and expanded foreign intercourse, all with the farsighted aim of creating a unified Japan, Pro-imperial interests, alarmed by these reforms, moved against him, precipitating the Boshin Civil War and the final defeat of the shogunal armies. To the surprise of his enemies, he capitulated, retiring to Mito to live quietly for the rest of his life studying the new art of photography.

About Ryotaro Shiba

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Carpenter is a professor of English literature at Doshisha Women's College of Liberal Arts and one of the foremost translators of Japanese literature working today.
Published May 1, 1998 by Kodansha Amer Inc. 255 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Literature & Fiction, Travel. Fiction

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As the late Shiba admits, the story of Tokugawa Yoshinobu (1837-1913) the 15th and last shogun of Japan, is not one that ""lends itself easily to retelling"" even for those very familiar with the history of the shogunate--the military, as opposed to the civil, government that ruled Japan.

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