Authors on Asia
Sunday, April 13 at 1 pm at USC Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena
Romulus Hillsborough will discuss and sign his new book, Samurai Revolution: The Dawn of Modern Japan Seen Through the Eyes of the Shogun’s Last Samurai
In Samurai Revolution, Hillsborough tells the fascinating story of Japan’s transformation from a backward country of feudal lords and samurai under the control of the shogun into a modern industrialized nation under the unifying rule of the Emperor. Knowledge of this history is essential to understanding how and why Japan evolved into the nation it is today.
Samurai Revolution is divided into two books in one complete volume. Book I chronicles the series of tumultuous and bloody events between 1853 and 1868, collectively called the Meiji Restoration, the “dawn of modern Japan,” when the shogun’s government was overthrown and the Emperor was restored to his ancient seat of power. Book 2 covers the first turbulent decade of the restored monarchy in which the new Imperial government worked desperately to consolidate its power and introduce innovations that would put Japan on equal footing with Western powers that threatened to dominate it.
As the first comprehensive history and analysis in English examining all the key players in this epoch drama, Samurai Revolution is the result of over twenty-five years of research. Throughout the book the author quotes extensively from the journals, memoirs, histories, and letters of Katsu Kaishu, a prolific writer, founder of Japan’s modern navy, and later supreme commander of the shogun’s military, who earned the epithet “the shogun’s last samurai.” These original translations give an insider’s view, which along with the grand historical narrative provide readers with an unparalleled insight into this most momentous period in Japanese history.
Books will be available for purchase and signing. Light refreshments. RSVP to the Museum Store, (626) 449-2742, ext. 20.
USC Pacific Asia Museum is located at 46 N. Los Robles Ave. in downtown Pasadena. www.pacificasiamuseum.org
Romulus Hillsborough is an acclaimed expert in the field of Japanese history and culture. Originally from Los Angeles, he lived in Tokyo for sixteen years, immersing himself in the study of Japanese language, history and culture. Most of his reading focused on major literary and historical works of Japan. He was particularly drawn in by the tumultuous history of the final years of the shogun’s government and the return of political power to the Emperor.
To compliment his research, the author traveled to historical cities and towns around Japan where his samurai subjects lived and died and where the revolution to overthrow the shogun unfolded. During that time he worked as a writer for a popular weekly magazine in Tokyo and later as a contributing journalist to a number of other Japanese publications.
Upon returning to the United States, Hillsborough settled in San Francisco. Since then, he has returned to Japan many times to resume his travels to historical cities and deepen his understanding of his samurai subjects. His books have been published in seven languages and include “Shinsengumi: The Shogun’s Last Samurai Corps,” Samurai Tales: Courage, Fidelity and Revenge in the Final Years of the Shogun,” “Ryoma: Life of a Renaissance Samurai.”
He has spoken at internationally recognized venues and has appeared numerous times on television and radio including The History Channel special “The Samurai,” first aired in 2003, and an NHK television special about the Shinsengumi in 2004.
Hillsborough currently lives in San Francisco with his wife Minako and son Matthew.