With four see-through vellum sections that build up the layers of armor worn by the samurai, and text by a world-recognized expert on the subject, this is a unique look at the mysterious ancient Japanese warrior class. Every image and page offers some fascinating insight, from an overview of early Japan and the emperor system to the specifics of weaponry. The story begins as the samurai come into being in the 800s, and defines exactly what they are. Tales of the great battles and feuds, and commentary on the politics of the time, bring these compelling soldiers to life. Detailed information covers such issues as the samurai's ranks and grades, way of life, retainers, loyalty (bushido), and training. Descriptions of the castles and mansions where they lived, their clothing, armaments, and battlefield tactics make this a fascinating guide for anyone interested in military history or Japanese culture.