Few societies have had a past so obscured by myth as the ninja, but John Man’s ambitious history largely succeeds in clearing some of that fog.
Tracing the ninja from their origins to the end of the movement he examines their motivations and practices throughout history, as well as clarifying terminology that has caused confusion among Western readers – most notably, the interchangeable ninja and shinobi, a linguistic quirk. While guilty of the occasional stray into self-aggrandising territory, Man’s conversational tone generally works well. By combining elements of travelogue with his research, he personalises the hunt for the truth of the ninja legend, resulting in an engaging read. With interesting anecdotes bringing colour to the history, this is an entertaining and informative book, though perhaps light on detail for ninja aficionados.