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The African Samurai

Author(s): Craig Shreve

Location(s): Japan

Genre(s): Biography, Fiction, Historical

Era(s): 16th Century

The incredible story of the slave who became a Japanese samurai.

In 1579, a Portuguese trade ship sails into port at Kinchotsu, Japan, loaded with European wares and weapons. Also aboard is an East African slave. Taken from his village as a boy, sold to mercenaries and forced to fight in Indian wars that meant nothing to him, he is a young but experienced soldier.

Serving as the protector for a high-ranking Italian priest, the young man joins an expedition pushing inland towards the capital city of Kyoto.

There they meet Oda Nobunaga, the most powerful warlord in Japan, who is preparing a campaign to unify the country after more than a hundred years of civil war. Under the tutelage of Nobunaga, the young African soldier becomes the great warrior Yasuke, Japan’s first foreign samurai, and the only one ever of African descent. His preoccupation is not a question of power, as it is for Nobunaga, but one of freedom.

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