Scottish Samurai

Thomas Blake Glover, 1838-1911

Alexander McKay

Scottish Samurai by Alexander McKay (Paperback ISBN 9780857866158) book cover

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Thomas Glover arrived in Nagasaki in 1859, just as Japan was opening to the West. Within a few years he had played a crucial part in the overthrow of the Tokugawa Shogunate, providing the rebels with war-winning, Scottish-designed warships, and modern arms. Bankruptcy by the age of thirty was barely a setback and he went on to become a pivotal figure in the rapidly expanding Mitsubishi empire, founding shipyards and breweries.

As energetic in his love-life as in business and politics, Glover had a string of Japanese mistresses, one of whom inspired Puccini’s Madam Butterfly. This ‘Scottish Samurai’ was to become an adviser to the Japanese government; he also arranged for many Japanese to visit Britain and see the wonders of the industrial revolution, a lesson they enthusiastically absorbed. Today, Glover is regarded as one of the founding fathers of the Japanese economic miracle.

“This is a great story; the sort that Bernardo Bertolucci would pay good money for.”
financial Times

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“His story has been researched impeccably. It is a compelling and human tale of obscurity to renown told colourfully and well.”
the Press And Journal

Alexander McKay

Alexander McKay, as well as giving occasional talks on Thomas Blake Glover (he was also an adviser to a BBC Great Explorers documentary about him), and writing articles on Japan, continues to struggle with an account of his life offshore. He spent around thirty years in the oil industry, much of the time overseas but also more than a decade in the North Sea, and was traumatized by some horrific incidents. He still suffers from nightmares and is trying to exorcise these by writing about them.

The father of two adult daughters and grandfather of three, he lives in Edinburgh with his Japanese wife of forty years.