The two Mongol invasions of Japan of 1274 and 1281 represent a defining moment in Japanese history - the 'finest hour' of the Samurai, and the birth of the legend of the kamikaze, or 'divine wind', the typhoon that swept away the second Mongol invasion fleet in 1281.
Turnbull has used a wide range of sources, including accounts from Japan, the Mongols, Korea and China, depictions of the invasion in contemporary artwork (including the Moko Shuria Ekotoba or Mongol Invasion Scrolls, a series of painting with an associated narrative produced by the samurai Takezaki Suenaga in an attempt to gain a reward for his part in the fighting), and modern archaeology, which has shed a great deal of light on the nature of the invasion fleet and its fate in 1281.
It was particularly interesting to read a more detailed account of the second Mongol invasion, which is often overshadowed by its dramatic end in the great storm, but that actually included some significant fighting.
Turnbull has included a nice section on the aftermath of the invasion, looking at the fate of the Mongol dynasty in China, the impact of the wars on Korea and on the internal power struggles in Japan, as well as the more subtle battles fought within Japanese society in an attempt to take credit for the defeat of the invasions.
The First Mongol Invasion of Japan, 1274
Between the Invasions, 1275-81
The Second Mongol Invasion of Japan, 1281
The Battlefields Today
Author: Stephen Turnbull