Background: I'm reading Shogun, and enjoying it enormously, but the portrayal of the samurai, their families, and their subordinates as authoritarian and death-obsessed has been setting off warning bells.
It seems likely to me that Clavell has an interest in playing up the exotic and "oriental" aspects of Japanese culture to keep with his theme of cultural clash. I'm also skeptical about the sustainability of putting whole villages to the sword over trivial offenses, the likelihood that so many of the Japanese characters would be eager to commit seppuku, and the suggestion that the samurai would have been totally baffled by the Christian commitment to love and value all human life.
To be clear, I'm not looking to smear Clavell-- he intersperses the above elements with more positive depictions of the samurai, harsh criticisms of the Europeans, and a good dose of universal realpolitik to boot. I'm also interested in the theme of cultural conflict, and think it's both real and valid. But I'm also aware that so called east-west divisions are often simplified or overstated.
Question: How accurate is the portrayal of fatalistic samurai culture in Shogun?