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Gai-jin: A Novel of Japan [Paperback]

3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Feb. 2 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Though there have been numerous negative comments surrounding this book, I thought I would tackle it anyway. And I have to say it was well worth it.
I will admit that at times, Clavell has characters 'space out' when they are in the middle of a conversation. At times it is difficult to keep up with the transitions he goes through.
But I still had to give it 5 stars because I loved every minute of this book. The characters are superb and if you have read shogun and tai-pan then you feel like you are still in the same book only later in life.
Read it, it will not disappoint you...
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3.0 out of 5 stars Close, very close March 18 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The book is like the author's other saga book, save it covers too many sub plots and characters, to flow smoothly. On the other hand the descriptions of life in those times and places measure up to the others very well. I had to start this one several times, and almost push myself through due to all the data being thrown at the reader. Sho-gun and Tai-Pan have both been read several times by me and even now fully knowing the story and the plot, I have trouble laying the books down.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An historical novel that is second to none. Aug. 26 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The late James Clavell was a master story teller and this is one of his best efforts. Hard to put down.
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5.0 out of 5 stars ! May 31 2013
By Jon
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
Great purchase, couldnt be happier, Ive read every book in the series so far and keep coming back for the next one.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic read Jan. 11 2013
By Gary
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Fantastic historical details of early Japan and would be traders. Great read but there is somewhat graphic details of the Willow World (courtesans & prostitutes). That been said, the other details and characters of the story are truly well developed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Gai-jin - An unworthy end to a great career. Sept. 10 1997
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I was captivated by Shogun, and it sparked what has come to be a life-long fascination and study of Japan. As I learned, I recognized that Clavell's characterization of Japanese culture and this particular period in Japanese history was not entirely accurate. But he was telling a story for Western audiences, and it was an historical novel, not a history. Had he not taken artistic license, perhaps I would not have been so entranced.

The opening of Japan is one of the country's most fascinating periods, when centuries of tradition were turned topsy-turvy and the way of life was wrenched into the Modern Age almost overnight. I eagerly awaited Gai-Jin and Clavell's interpretation.

Perhaps he was old and forgetful, perhaps he was too sick, or maybe he was so important a writer that no one dared tell him, "Jim, you need to do more research before you publish this -- your Japanese characters are using Chinese(? - anyway, not Japanese) words, and phonemes that aren't even in the Japanese language. You've given men's names to women, and bonze (Buddhist priest) names to young men who haven't retired to the priesthood, and your leading Japanese character only has half a name." (Yoshi is a sometimes a modern nickname, but for a "full" given name like Yoshinobu, Yoshitada or Yoshi-e. No samurai or noble would have ever used a half-name in a formal introduction.) As I read further, I found that the mistakes weren't just in the details, but even in the fundamental characterizations of the factions and forces that were struggling within Japan about what to do with the foreigners on their shores.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Okay, not great Feb. 25 2004
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Sometimes amusing, sometimes irritating. Too often the writing seems to be there only in order to show off mr Clavell's research that he however hasn't put in perfect use, as others have pointed out.
I have a question. Why Angelique? Why do I have to suffer trough the mewlings of the airhead? And however unearthily beautiful, do all the men of the book really have so unified taste as to drool after the self-centered bimbo?
I liked the Japanese characters much better than the gai-jin. Was rooting for the shishi all the time.
I love to read about the samurai era Japan, but next time I'll pick a Japanese author.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Clavell was the best dest Gai-Jin Jan. 24 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
First and foremost James Clavell was one of the most talented writers ever. Especially if you like fiction about Asia. Not only did he tell great stories but his books were filled with so much good history and culture about places like China and Japan. Though I was never a fan of "King Rat" books like Shogun, Tai-Pan, and Noble House were some of the best I ever read. They were books you never wanted to end.
Gai-Jin starts off that way as well. The first 400 or 500 pages of Gai-Jin are classic Clavell. Combining many of the stories and characters from Shogun, Tai Pan, and Noble House. The books first 500 pages are terrific. Clavell using some familiar faces from his other books sets the stage for the Meiji Restoration in Japan.
The book in typical Clavell fashion talks about the history of Japan after the arrival of Commodore Perry in 1853 as well as of China while it was divided up into spheres of influence.
Gai-Jin is so good at setting the stage for Meiji with its characters discussing Japan's options of either learning for the Gai-Jin or attempting a futile resistance and facing humilation like China suffered under the Opium Wars.
Unfortunately Clavell died shortly after finishing this book. And unfortunately the affects of his illness affect the second half of the book. The book just loses focus 1/2 way through. My gut feeling is that Clavell's illness just caught up to him. Because the book just goes downhill and nowhere which is not typical of Clavell.
Clavell will never be replaced. Other fictional books about Asia do not even compare. Cloud of Sparrows, The Laura Joh Rowland Books, are ok but not in Clavell's league. The first half of Gai-Jin reminds us how good he was. Unfortunately, he will never be replaced.
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