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7 Amazing Historical Books about Ninjas (Non-Fiction)

Are you fascinated by the mysterious world of Japanese ninjutsu? I’m with you! Here are seven highly rated non-fiction books about ninjas that will help you dive deep into their rich history and cultural development.

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1. Ninja: Unmasking the Myth by Stephen Turnbull

Stephen Turnbull’s Ninja: Unmasking the Myth challenges popular misconceptions about ninjas. This book delves deep into the historical origins and evolution of ninjas in Japan. Turnbull, a renowned historian, uses a variety of historical texts and records to paint a realistic picture of these legendary figures. In addition, he explores their roles in warfare, espionage, and even peasant uprisings, debunking many modern myths. The book also examines the tools and tactics of ninjas, their training, and how their image has been distorted over time.

Why ninja enthusiasts will love it: Turnbull’s rigorous academic approach makes this book a treasure trove for history buffs. It thus appeals to readers looking for a historically accurate depiction of ninjas, far removed from popular culture’s often sensational portrayal.

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Ninja: Unmasking the Myth
74 Reviews
Ninja: Unmasking the Myth
  • Turnbull, Stephen (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 240 Pages - 12/28/2020 (Publication Date) - Frontline Books (Publisher)

2. The Ninja: Ancient Shadow Warriors of Japan by Kacem Zoughari

Kacem Zoughari’s The Ninja: Ancient Shadow Warriors of Japan offers a detailed exploration of the secretive lives of ninjas. Zoughari, both a historian and a martial artist, provides an in-depth analysis of the ninja’s role in Japanese feudal society. The book covers their rigorous training, unique skills, and the philosophical underpinnings of their practices. It also delves into the specific weaponry, tactics, and survival strategies employed by ninjas, backed by Zoughari’s firsthand knowledge of martial arts.

What sets this book apart: Its combination of historical research and practical martial arts insight makes it a standout. In short, it’s ideal for readers who are as interested in the physical and tactical aspects of ninjutsu as they are in its historical context.

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The Ninja, The Secret History of Ninjutsu: Ancient Shadow Warriors of Japan
138 Reviews
The Ninja, The Secret History of Ninjutsu: Ancient Shadow Warriors of Japan
  • Zoughari Ph.D., Kacem (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 208 Pages - 08/09/2016 (Publication Date) - Tuttle Publishing (Publisher)

3. In Search of the Ninja: The Historical Truth of Ninjutsu by Antony Cummins

Books about Japanese ninjas with a historical focus

Antony Cummins’ In Search of the Ninja cuts through the legends to reveal the historical truth of ninjutsu. Relying on ancient texts and historical documents, Cummins debunks many of the myths surrounding ninjas. The book also offers a detailed look at their real techniques, strategies, and the historical context in which they operated. Cummins’ focus on factual accuracy provides a refreshing counterpoint to the more sensationalized accounts of ninja history.

Why it’s a must-read for ninja fans: Cummins’ commitment to historical truth offers a genuine look at ninjas. This book is perfect for readers who value historical authenticity and want to also understand the real art of ninjutsu, stripped of myth and exaggeration.

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In Search of the Ninja: The Historical Truth Of Ninjutsu
79 Reviews
In Search of the Ninja: The Historical Truth Of Ninjutsu
  • Cummins, Antony (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 240 Pages - 05/01/2013 (Publication Date) - The History Press (Publisher)

4. Secrets of the Ninja: Their Training, Tools, and Techniques by Ashida Kim

In Secrets of the Ninja, Ashida Kim delves into the detailed aspects of ninja training and tactics. The book covers a wide range of topics, including the mental and physical preparation of ninjas, their espionage methods, and advanced survival skills. Kim also provides insights into the various tools and weapons used by ninjas, explaining their purpose and use in different scenarios. The book’s focus on the practical aspects of ninja life offers readers a glimpse into the rigorous and disciplined world of these ancient warriors.

Why this book is unique: Kim’s focus on the practical and technical aspects of ninja training appeals to readers who are fascinated by the day-to-day life and skills of ninjas.

Secrets of the Ninja
71 Reviews
Secrets of the Ninja
  • Kim, Ashida (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 236 Pages - 11/13/2018 (Publication Date) - Lulu.com (Publisher)

5. The Ninja and Their Secret Fighting Art by Stephen K. Hayes

Stephen K. Hayes’ The Ninja and Their Secret Fighting Art dives into the historical and cultural significance of ninjas. This book stands out for its detailed exploration of the ninja’s origins, their role in Japanese feudal society, and the evolution of their secretive fighting techniques. Hayes, a noted martial arts practitioner and historian, provides insights into the philosophies and strategies that shaped the ninja way of life. The book also covers other aspects of ninjutsu, including espionage, guerrilla warfare, and the mental discipline required of these ancient shadow warriors.

Why it’s a valuable read: Hayes’ blend of historical context with practical martial arts knowledge offers a unique perspective on the ninja, thus making it a must-read for anyone interested in the true essence of these legendary figures.

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The Ninja and Their Secret Fighting Art
175 Reviews
The Ninja and Their Secret Fighting Art
  • Hayes, Stephen K. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 160 Pages - 08/01/2017 (Publication Date) - Tuttle Publishing (Publisher)

6. Ninjutsu: History and Tradition by Masaaki Hatsumi

Ninjutsu: History and Tradition by Masaaki Hatsumi is a comprehensive guide that uncovers the rich history and practices of ninjutsu. Hatsumi, the grandmaster of the Bujinkan Dojo and a direct descendant of ninja schools, offers an authoritative look into the world of ninjas. Moreover, the book delves into the evolution of ninjutsu, detailing its historical context, techniques, and philosophies. Readers will also find fascinating discussions on the ninja’s role in feudal Japan, their training methods, and the various tools and weapons they used.

Why it’s a must-read: Hatsumi’s direct lineage to the ninja tradition lends an authenticity to this book that is rare and invaluable for those deeply interested in understanding the real history and practices of ninjas.

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Ninjutsu: History and Tradition
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Ninjutsu: History and Tradition
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • Hatsumi, Masaaki (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

7. Secret Traditions of the Shinobi: Hattori Hanzo’s Shinobi Hiden and Other Ninja Scrolls by Antony Cummins and Yoshie Minami

Secret Traditions of the Shinobi: Hattori Hanzo’s Shinobi Hiden and Other Ninja Scrolls by Antony Cummins and Yoshie Minami is a captivating exploration into the historical documents and teachings of the shinobi. In addition, this book stands out for its in-depth examination of original ninja scrolls, including the famed ‘Shinobi Hiden’ attributed to Hattori Hanzo, a legendary ninja of the Sengoku period. Cummins and Minami translate and analyze these ancient texts. In short, it offering readers a rare glimpse into the authentic techniques, strategies, and philosophies of the historical ninja.

Why this is an exceptional read: The book’s direct translation of primary sources provides an unfiltered view into the ninja’s world, thus making it a valued source for those seeking a genuine understanding of shinobi practices and history.

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The Secret Traditions of the Shinobi: Hattori Hanzo's Shinobi Hiden and Other Ninja Scrolls
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The Secret Traditions of the Shinobi: Hattori Hanzo's Shinobi Hiden and Other Ninja Scrolls
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 216 Pages - 11/27/2012 (Publication Date) - Blue Snake Books (Publisher)

In conclusion, I hope you’ve enjoyed our list of 7 highly acclaimed non-fiction books about ninjas, each offering unique insights into their history and mystique. Whether you’re a ninja enthusiast or a Japanese history buff, these books are sure to provide a deeper understanding of the rich and fascinating tapestry of ninjutsu.

Looking for more non-fiction book lists? Check them out here!