One of the best (and most fun) ways of learning history is to read historical fiction. Check out these books in our library.
Shogun: The title for a military commander in ancient Japan (8th century to 12th century A.D.), and later for a ruler of Shogunate Japan (12th century to 1868).
A shogun is essentially a military general. During the Shogunate period, however, the emperor of Japan was a mere figurehead, while the shogun wielded actual power over the country. The shoguns lost power after the Meiji Restoration in 1868.
The word "shogun" comes from the Japanese words sho, meaning "commander," and gun, or "troops."
This excellent PBS site contains a timeline, maps, background information and teaching resources to support the documentaries.
Commanding shoguns and fierce samurai warriors, exotic geisha and exquisite artisans—all were part of a Japanese renaissance between the 16th and 19th centuries when Japan went from chaos and violence to a land of ritual refinement and peace. But stability came at a price: for nearly 250 years, Japan was a land closed to the Western world, ruled by the shogun under his absolute power and control. Japan: Memoirs of a Secret Empire brings to life the unknown story of a mysterious empire, its relationship with the West, and the forging of a nation that would emerge as one of the most important countries in the world.
EPISODE ONE: THE WAY OF THE SAMURAI
Tokugawa Ieyasu unifies Japan and establishes a dynasty that will rule Japan for over 250 years.
EPISODE TWO: THE WILL OF THE SHOGUN
The grandson of Ieyasu, Tokugawa Iemitsu, tightens control over Japan's warlords and expels all foreigners.
EPISODE THREE: THE RETURN OF THE BARBARIANS
Isolated from the West, 18th century Edo flourishes culturally and economically, becoming one of the liveliest cities in the world. But foreign forces are coming.