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 Post subject: New Segoe book now out
Post #1 Posted: Thu Nov 02, 2023 4:27 am 
Oza

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It's doorstep time again. My mammoth book on Segoe is now available on Amazon - though for some countries it can take a few days for the details to appear on the local Amazon pages. The title is Eminence Grise - the Life and Times of Segoe Kensaku. The ISBN is 9798856518459.

I'll start with the blurb:

Quote:
Callimachus, an Alexandrian Librarian under Ptolemy II, preferred shorter forms of poetry and expressed his disdain for long epic poems with the Greek phrase 'mega biblion, mega kakon' - big book, big bad. But Homer proved him wrong. This book hopes to prove Segoe Kensaku also deserves an epic.

A case can be made for saying that Segoe was the most significant player ever in professional go. For a time, he was probably the strongest player in the world. He nurtured three dominant geniuses from the three main go-playing countries, Japan, China and Korea. He was pivotal in founding and then running the Nihon Ki-in. He kept the Honinbo tournament running during the war despite being a victim of the atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima. After the war, his links with politicians enabled go to grow again and reach new heights. In retirement, he laid the foundations for expanding go worldwide, with personal visits and books. All this was done under the burden of an eye disease which, at the end of a long and eventful life, was probably the main factor in his dramatic suicide -- he could no longer play go.

Just to describe his own, richly textured, life would take many words. But to understand it needs even more. After all, his long life spanned the three eras of Meiji, Taisho and Showa, in a culture we in the West are not really familiar with, given the rather different times and land he lived in. As it happens, 2024 will see the 100th anniversary of the Nihon Ki-in. Considering Segoe's central role in founding, running and playing in go's principal organisation, a mega book about him seems especially appropriate.


A few things are worth adding. First, be warned. The book is 466 pages long. Apart from a profusion of images, it is solid text. There are no games. However, as the text describes 100 years of the main activities in go, the games which feature at each point are highlighted in the text, and the corresponding games can all be found in the GoGoD database, so you can play your way through the story.

Second, the book is about the "life and times" of Segoe. While the main focus is obviously on him and his role in all the big events, I do wander off to explain those times he lived in, so that you can understand why he acted as he did. The result is that very much will be new to you. The proofreader (who is a 4-dan with several decades experience of the go world) said 80% to 90% of the content was new to him (the index alone is over 20 pages). This ranges from how the live-in pupil system worked to how politicians used go players for PR, from the atom-bomb game to playing go in prison, from how go in China and Korea differed in real practice to how Segoe and other pros were startled at how Japanese go was transmogrified in Hawaii, the USA and Europe (not always to their approval!).

A further point is that 2024 is the 100th anniversary of the Nihon Ki-in. Segoe was central to the founding and running of this organisation. Twice, really, because he had to start all over again after the war. And in both cases, apart from finding resources and money, he had to deal with stroppy go players - jealousy, wayward pupils, rebellions, court cases. This book is also a salute to that centenary.

Eminence Grise is about the size of a typical computer manual of today - but about half the price.


This post by John Fairbairn was liked by 4 people: ez4u, gennan, gowan, Shenoute
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 Post subject: Re: New Segoe book now out
Post #2 Posted: Thu Nov 02, 2023 1:09 pm 
Dies in gote

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Thank you. I jumped on this right away this morning, Amazon US claims I'll have it by Sunday.

I am still getting a lot of mileage out of the Kamakura book. I loved the bit where you said you visited the site and effectively annoyed a monk by asking about the location of the match.

I truly appreciate the added dimensions you provide to western literature about the history, personalities and overall cultural treasures of Go.

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 Post subject: Re: New Segoe book now out
Post #3 Posted: Thu Nov 02, 2023 6:52 pm 
Oza
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I ordered mine (cursing all the while Amazon Japan's continued refusal to handle your color print-on-demand books). It should arrive in mid November.

John Fairbairn wrote:
... There are no games. However, as the text describes 100 years of the main activities in go, the games which feature at each point are highlighted in the text, and the corresponding games can all be found in the GoGoD database, so you can play your way through the story...

I think this makes sense. Not only because I am the type that inevitably lets Katago do half my thinking these days. It also allows much more space for what I expect to be a fascinating history lesson!
:tmbup:

_________________
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"Short-lived are both the praiser and the praised, and rememberer and the remembered..."
- Marcus Aurelius; Meditations, VIII 21

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 Post subject: Re: New Segoe book now out
Post #4 Posted: Wed Nov 08, 2023 10:03 am 
Gosei

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Received my copy two days ago and though I haven't quite finished reading it, I'm enjoying it very much. As described above, the book gives us a lot of information about the culture in which Segoe lived and acted, a period of history not familiar to most contemporary go aficionados.

Amazed that Amazon.co.jp doesn't carry John's print on demand books. Do they sell print-on-demand Japanese books? If not, that would be even more weird. I would assume the whole thing would be digitally controlled, and just as my home computer printer prints out Japanese kanji, theirs would certainly print out English letters. Could it possibly have something to do with the assembly of the physical book? As we know, page order in Japanese books are reversed compared to Western books.

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 Post subject: Re: New Segoe book now out
Post #5 Posted: Wed Nov 08, 2023 11:52 am 
Oza

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Quote:
Amazed that Amazon.co.jp doesn't carry John's print on demand books.


It's not quite like that. Neither Japan nor Australia among Amazon's outlets offer books printed in what they call "standard colour". I have no idea why, but they do offer B&W. However, I prefer colour for my own reasons, and it adds next to nothing to the price (unlike non-standard colour, whatever that is). And I'm too lazy to offer multiple versions.

There is a similar problem with hardbacks. I would like hardbacks of my own books, but I can't get them from Amazon UK. I have to go through Amazon in Germany, but the German outlet requires me to go through various (anti-Brexit?) hoops I'm not prepared to go through. The odd thing is that the paperback copies I order through Amazon UK are delivered from places like Italy, and getting, say, books or DVDs from Europe (or USA or Japan) is straightforward.

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 Post subject: Re: New Segoe book now out
Post #6 Posted: Thu Nov 09, 2023 11:30 am 
Lives with ko
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Just got my copy delivered. I think I'll have a splendid weekend.

Cheers,
Vesa

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 Post subject: Re: New Segoe book now out
Post #7 Posted: Mon Nov 13, 2023 8:04 am 
Lives in gote

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Ordering my copy today.

Effortful study notwithstanding, I find myself continually astonished that John is able to produce such high quality content faster than I can digest it. No matter, John is the last remaining go author whose books I will purchase simply as a sign of support.

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 Post subject: Re: New Segoe book now out
Post #8 Posted: Tue Nov 14, 2023 7:51 am 
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Like this others have said, it is always 1) Exciting when a new Fairbairn comes along, and 2) astonishing how frequently that happens. I will order mine soon, or perhaps pop it on the Christmas list.

A couple of typos in the amazon blurb:
1st paragraph, 5th sentence begins "Just To" - capital T is typo.
4th Paragraph, "...he turned his attention tor West and..." "tor" should be "to the" or something like that.

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 Post subject: Re: New Segoe book now out
Post #9 Posted: Mon Nov 20, 2023 8:04 am 
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Thank you for this book. Meijin of meijins was one of my favorite go books.
I am currently enjoying the reading of this one, and feel like a child after Christmas, as it is almost overloaded with informations and savoury stories about go, politics, mores and people of Japan (and more!) of Segoe's times.

By the way, John, how do you think you would regard a translation proposal of one of your old articles? Eventually I would be (unreasonably) happy to get in touch with you; you can PM me if you think you might agree ; otherwise I do not want to bother you.

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