Tōgō Heihachirō (1848-1934) was born into a feudal Japan that had shut foreign contact for 250 years. As a teenage samurai, he witnessed the destruction wrought upon his native land by British warships. as the legendary ‘Silent Admiral’, he was at the forefront of innovations in warfare, pioneering the Japanese use of modern gunnery and wireless communication. He is best known as ‘Nelson of the East’ for his resounding victory of the Tsar’s navy in the Russo-Japanese War, but he also lived a remarkable life – studying at an English maritime college, witnessing the Sino-French War, the Hawaiian Revolution, and the Boxer Uprising. After this retirement, he was appointed to oversee the education of the future Shōwa Emperor, Hirohito.
This new biography spans Japan’s sudden, violent leap out of its self-imposed isolation and into the 20th century. Delving beyond Tōgō’s finest hour at the battle of Tsushima, it portrays the life of a shy Japanese sailor in Victorian England, and his controversial fame in 1894 when he sank the British-registered transport Knowing, carrying Chinese soldiers to the battlefront in Korea. It also shines new light on his reluctant celebrity in America, forgotten wars over the short-lived Republics of Ezo and Formosa, and the accumulation of peacetime experience that forged a wartime hero.
JONATHAN CLEMENTS studied Chinese and Japanese at the University of Leeds, before receiving a Master’s degree from the University of Stirling. He is the author of A Brief History of the Samurai, and lives of many prominent figures in Asian history, including Prince Saionji: Japan and Wellington Koo: China in Haus’ Makers of the Modern World series.
Also by this author, A Short History of Finland, A Short History of Beijing, A Short History of Tokyo, A History of the Silk Road, Mannerheim: President, Soldier Spy, and Mao Zedong.