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The 47th Samurai [Abridged, Audiobook] [Audio Cassette]

Stephen Hunter , Buck Schirner
3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Sept. 11 2007 Bob Lee Swagger Series (Book 4)

Bob Lee Swagger and Philip Yano are bound together by a single moment at Iwo Jima, 1945, when their fathers, two brave fighters on opposite sides, met in the bloody and chaotic battle for the island. Only Earl Swagger survived.

More than sixty years later, Yano comes to America to honor the legacy of his heroic father by recovering the sword he used in the battle. His search has led him to Crazy Horse, Idaho, where Bob Lee, ex-marine and Vietnam veteran, has settled into a restless retirement and immediately pledges himself to Yano’s quest.

Bob Lee finds the sword and delivers it to Yano in Tokyo. On inspection, they discover that it is not a standard WWII blade, but a legendary shin-shinto katana, an artifact of the nation. It is priceless but worth killing for. Suddenly Bob is at the center of a series of terrible crimes he barely understands but vows to avenge. And to do so, he throws himself into the world of the samurai, Tokyo’s dark, criminal yakuza underworld, and the unwritten rules of Japanese culture.

Swagger’s allies, hard-as-nails, American-born Susan Okada and the brave, cocaine-dealing tabloid journalist Nick Yamamoto, help him move through this strange, glittering, and ominous world from the shady bosses of the seamy Kabukicho district to officials in the highest echelons of the Japanese government, but in the end, he is on his own and will succeed only if he can learn that to survive samurai, you must become samurai.

As the plot races and the violence escalates, it becomes clear that a ruthless conspiracy is in place, and the only thing that can be taken for granted is that money, power, and sex can drive men of all nationalities to gruesome extremes. If Swagger hopes to stop them, he must be willing not only to die but also to kill.

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From Publishers Weekly

Bob Lee Swagger, retired marine master sniper and hero of bestseller Hunter's 1993 thriller, Point of Impact (forthcoming as the film Shooter), returns in this riveting homage to the myth of the samurai. Philip Yano, the son of the Japanese officer who commanded the bunker on Iwo Jima where Swagger's marine father won the Medal of Honor in 1945, approaches Swagger about a missing sword wielded by his father, Hideki, during the battle for the island. The sword turns out to be not just a family heirloom but a national treasure that evokes echoes from the most sacrosanct corners of Japanese history. Yano's search reveals there are those who will gladly kill for the honor it bestows upon the possessor. Plunged into a Japan where honor and loyalty outweigh even one's own life, Swagger finds that an old warrior like himself still has much to understand. While the action builds to the inevitable climax, the joy of the journey will keep readers turning the pages. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* This is the novel Hunter's fans have been waiting for, the book that brings together his father-and-son protagonists: Earl Swagger, World War II hero and hard-nosed cop, and Bob Lee Swagger, Vietnam sniper and, like his father, the kind of guy who can't say no to righteous violence. Until now, Earl and Bob have each starred in their own books, but this time, ingeniously, Hunter brings them together when Bob is contacted by a retired Japanese soldier, Philip Yano, who believes that his father's samurai sword may have wound up in Earl's hands after the war. Bob tracks down the sword, travels to Japan, and presents it to Yano—after which the Yano family is slaughtered. Bob could walk away, but, of course, he doesn't. Throwing himself into samurai culture, he learns swordsmanship from a master and sets off to avenge the Yanos—and, in a sense, his father. Sure, this sounds clichéd, but much of Hunter's genius comes from his ability to manipulate archetypes—especially the classic western scenario of the lone avenger—drawing on the almost subconscious pull these themes exert on the reader but always infusing them with multiple layers of complexity. As Bob is drawn into the samurai world, and tension builds to the inevitable confrontation with his adversary—a modern samurai seduced by the dark side—Hunter simultaneously fuels our need for bloody resolution and reveals the horrors wrought by devotion to honor and duty. But this time he does it with parallel narratives—juxtaposing the story of Earl Swagger and Philip Yano's father against the contemporary drama and playing off the same themes across generations. This is probably Hunter's most violent novel—and that's saying something—but violence may have never been more integral to story than it is here. Hunter celebrates the samurai soldier while showing the appalling underside of the samurai way of life and the ideals that drive it. Ott, Bill --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I Hate to Give This Book 2 Stars Sept. 20 2008
By Faith
I am a big fan of Stephen Hunter and his Bob Lee Swagger series. I would give most of them 5 stars. I saw Shooter on TV last night and remembered how much I enjoyed that book and how quickly I read it.

This book took me over a month to finish. The premise is that Bob Lee (after a week of acquaintance) got so close to a Japanese family, that he sought revenge after they were all killed. I don't see Bob Lee that way. I see him as a tough guy who lets few people in but when he does he is loyal to the end. When this is explained it is too late to make the book believable.

The book talked endlessly about sword fighting and the Japanese expressions for all the cuts that I found myself skimming all those parts just to see who survived so I could continue with the book.

The plot was not engaging and I found that I did not "connect" with Bob Lee as I had in the rest of the series. I had read some reviews that were not flattering but I ignored them. Wish I had taken them to heart and at least waited for the paperback. I won't be buying his next one in hardcover.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Ambitious, Strange, Unsettling, NOT HIS BEST Oct. 25 2007
If you are brand-new to Bob Lee, perhaps this is not the best way to start the series. Many literary gourmets consider Bob Lee to be "the" most fully-developed 100% pure American hero in the history of modern literature, and with reason. Based on the earlier books in the series, this lanky, terse character, aka BOB THE NAILER, who (from Hunter himself) "looks like Clint Eastwood and talks like Gomer Pyle" makes John Wayne seem, in contrast, like a girlyboy. If you liked the Hollywood take on Bob Lee -- SHOOTER -- (which was hugely miscast BTW) you are going to LOVE the originals, which offer craft, skill, brilliant narrative and invariably a great payoff. Which brings us to 47th Samurai. You REALLY have to ask yourself whether Hunter, himself a Pulitzer Prize winner for non-fiction, was irritated at the soaring popularity of Bob Lee and deliberatly tried to throw his readers a curve..? This is, astonishly, a Bob Lee novel where the character never touches a gun in the story, not once, and, although in his mid-50's, masters the Samurai sword in one week and defeats the greatest swordsman in Japan. Oh yeah, here the usually terse Bob Lee in this one is suddenly Chatty Cathy, and suddenly speaks entire paragraphs. Summary -- OK action thriller but a HUGE DISAPPOINTMENT to serious Hunter fans.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Bloody silly May 14 2008
By J Scott
Hard old man Bob Lee Swagger achieves super-human proficiency with the samurai sword in a week of intensive training that brings to mind "The Karate Kid", in order to wreak bloody revenge on his enemies who were foolish enough to brutally dispatch a family he'd recently befriended. High on body count and low on credulity, Hunter constructs a wildly implausible plot but one that is completely unselfconscious. If you suspend your disbelief, it's a rollicking read and perfectly enjoyable; I just wish old man Swagger at some stage did the Indiana Jones trick and just shot the silly bugger waving a sword at him.
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2.0 out of 5 stars A real disappointment June 19 2009
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I've read and enjoyed all of the previous Bob Lee books, but I came close to giving up several times during this book (something I very rarely do). I basically kept reading out of morbid curiosity - to see how bad the novel would get. The story is preposterous and not in the least bit engaging. As someone who likes Bob Lee, it was a real disappointment to see the author turn him into such a ridiculous caricature. I'm not sure why I'm not giving it one star, but I've already given the book too much thought...
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