By John Man
William Morrow, $ 25.99, 288 pages
The ninja make for a great foil to the samurai. Ninja: 1,000 Years of the Shadow Warrior explores the history of the ninja, from its origin as a secret police force. It looks at the ninja villages that eventually rose up and their downfall, as well the resurrection of the ninja for the Second World War. How samurai and ninja opposed each other throughout their histories is explored, as well as the “mystical” powers of the ninja used. Even the ninja in popular culture is looked at, making for a fascinating story of a group that was both secret and out in the open.
This is how a history should be written. The subject is looked at with respect, and both the good and bad is examined, and how that subject was bound to fall eventually. Although it could have used more of a conclusion than an extended look at the last ninja, and there are times when it does seem too casual, this is otherwise a great look at a group that needed a good factual examination. This a great read, especially for those looking for historical facts on a group so shrouded in legend and fantasy.
Reviewed by Jamais Jochim