The Tatar Whirlwind

A Novel of Seventeenth-Century East Asia

by Shiba Ryotaro; translated by Joshua Fogel

By the early seventeenth century the Tokugawa shogunate had achieved supremacy over nearly all its opponents throughout the islands of Japan. Meanwhile, the great Ming dynasty of China, which came to power in 1368, was on its last legs. Corruption was rampant, extravagant expenditures emptied state coffers, while rural poverty and banditry were destroying the fabric of life in north China. North of the Great Wall, the nomadic Jurchens were beginning to cause the Ming government trouble. Yet the very idea that these “barbarians” might someday invade and conquer China scarcely crossed the mind of any but a thoughtful few.

Across this stage of international conflict and intrigue wanders a completely unlikely couple, the Jurchen princess Abiya, shipwrecked on the island of Hirado, and the minor samurai Katsura Shosuke, charged with returning her to her North China homeland. Neither has any inkling that they will soon become caught up in events that will shape the history of East Asia, and will bear witness to the birth of two remarkable and enduring regimes. The Manchus will rule over China until the imperial system is overthrown in 1911, while the Togukawa shoguns hold sway over Japan until the Meiji restoration of 1868.

An epic of colorful characters animating pivotal events taken straight from documented history, The Tatar Whirlwind was penned by Japan’s most popular writer of historical fiction and rendered in a masterful and accurate translation by a noted scholar of East Asian history.

Ryotaro Shiba (1923–1996), studied Mongolian at the Osaka School of Foreign Languages and began his career as a journalist. A prolific and widely read writer of historical fiction, his many monumental works are widely read and have spawned lengthy dramatizations on Japanese TV. This is the fourth of the author’s major works to be translated into English, after The Last Shogun: The Life of Tokugawa Yoshinobu, Drunk as a Lord: Samurai Stories, and Kukai the Universal: Scenes from his Life.

Joshua A. Fogel received his PhD from Columbia University and has taught at Harvard, Princeton, and the University of California at Santa Barbara. He currently holds the Canada Research Chair in the History of Modern China at York University. A leading scholar in comparative East Asian history, his numerous publications include The Literature of Travel in the Japanese Rediscovery of China, The Cultural Dimension of Sino-Japanese Relations, and Nakae Ushikichi in China: The Mourning of Spirit.

656 pp, 6 x 9, Hard
6 maps, list of characters
ISBN: 978-1891640-46-9