Iron Admirals: Naval Leadership in the Twentieth Century

By Ronald Andidora | Go to book overview

2
Samurai in Nelson's Shadow

I

On the morning of July 8, 1853, Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry led four U.S. Navy ships into Japan's Edo Bay. The nation that he approached was insular by virtue of its worldview as well as its geography. Japan was a feudal society whose daimyo overlords ruled private fiefdoms and commanded personal armies made up of hereditary warriors called samurai. Although the emperor reigned in his splendid palace at Kyoto, true executive power emanated from the shogun's fortress at Edo. The shogun was a military dictator who embodied the all-pervasive authority of the samurai caste. His office was created in 1192 when Japan's most powerful warrior decided to rule in his own right rather than pay homage to existing imperial institutions. The shogunate gradually reduced the emperor to a figurehead and then saw its own power diluted by the rise of the daimyo. However, in the early seventeenth Century, Ieyasu Tokugawa reestablished the shogun's ascendancy over the local warlords. His descendants remained in charge for more than 250 years.

Japan's first contact with Western civilization dated from the arrival of a Portuguese ship in 1542. Her rulers came to view the resulting intercourse with Europe as a dubious blessing. The foul smelling, hairy barbarians brought cholera and venereal disease along with the benefits of foreign trade. Their most virulent strain of infection was Christianity. Jesuits, Franciscans, and Dominicans vied for Japanese souls with a great degree of success. Ieyasu Tokugawa understood that Europe's monarchs used spiritual

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Iron Admirals: Naval Leadership in the Twentieth Century
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Maps ix
  • Preface xi
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • 1 - Nelson's Legacy 1
  • 2 - Samurai in Nelson's Shadow 11
  • 3 - The Man Who Could Lose the Empire in an Afternoon 45
  • 4 - The Fighter and the Strategist 91
  • 5 - The New Legacies 149
  • Notes 161
  • Bibliography 171
  • Index 175
  • About the Author *
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