Towards the end of the 16th century three outstanding commanders brought Japan's century of civil wars to an end, and even though reunification was first achieved under Toyotomi Hideyoshi, it was his successor Tokugawa Ieyasu who was to ensure a lasting peace.
In terms of his strategic and political achievements Ieyasu ranks as Japan's greatest samurai commander. His battlefield prowess, however, needs careful consideration before accolades are offered, because Ieyasu was undoubtedly a lucky general. Mikata ga Hara, for example, was a defeat that the onset of winter saved from being a rout.
Ieyasu's crowning victory at Sekigahara depended very much on the defection to his side of Kobayakawa Hideaki, and the absence from the scene of Ieyasu's son Hidetada serves to illustrate how just once there was a failure in Ieyasu's otherwise classic strategic vision. Yet Ieyasu possessed the particular wisdom of knowing who should be an ally and who was an enemy, and he was gifted in the broad brush strokes of a campaign. He also knew how to learn from his mistakes.
Ieyasu was also patient, a virtue sadly lacking in many of his contemporaries, and unlike Hideyoshi never outreached himself. To establish his family as the ruling clan in Japan for the next two and a half centuries was abundant proof of his true greatness.
About the Author
STEPHEN TURNBULL is the author of over 50 books on the military history of Europe and the Far East. He works as a Japanese cultural consultant and is Lecturer in Japanese Religion at the Department of East Asian Studies at Leeds University. He served as the historical advisor for the Universal Pictures film "47 Ronin", starring Keanu Reeves.
Gordon L Rottman entered the US Army in 1967, volunteered for Special Forces and trained as a weapons specialist. He served in the 5th Special Forces Group in Vietnam in 1969-70 and in airborne infantry, patrol and intelligence. He was a special operations forces scenario writer at the Joint Readiness Training Center for 12 years and is now a freelance writer. The author lives in Cypress, Texas. Ian Palmer is a highly experienced digital artist. A graduate in 3D design, he currently works as a senior artist for a leading UK games developer. Besides his artistic interests he is also a keen musician and motorcyclist. He lives in West London with his wife and three cats. Born in Faenza in 1963, and from an early age taking an interest in all things military, Giuseppe Rava has established himself as a leading military history artist. Entirely self-taught, Giuseppe is inspired by the works of the great military artists, such as Detaille, Meissonier, Rochling, Lady Butler, Ottenfeld and Angus McBride. He lives and works in Italy.
"Ieyasu's military career and achievements are documented along with a healthy dose of Japanese history, with color maps and photos throughout. The result is a powerful survey highly recommended for any Japanese history or military history holding." - James A. Cox, The Bookwatch (September 2012)