The mid to late 19th century is one of the most interesting periods in modern Japanese history. While trying to track down information on the historical details in the first Rurouni Kenshin OVA series and the TV series I have found the following books to be useful.
I have done short reviews for some of these. When a review exists I link to it. The reviews contain full bibliographic information.
Note: I recommend never relying on ISBN numbers to order books as these are linked to the specific edition and format. For example a hardcover and a paperback of exactly the same edition of the same book will have different ISBNs.
Romulus Hillsborourgh is leading a tour of sites important to the life of Sakamoto Ryoma, a major figure in the overthrow of the Tokugawa Shoguns. For more info see the Samurai History Tour site.
Normally I reject fiction when it comes to looking at history. These writers have done an excellent job of staying accurate to what is known about the period and therefore can serve as a good introduction.
Ryoma: Life of a Renaissance Samurai
Drunk as a Lord
The Last Shogun: The Life of Tokugawa Yoshinobu
Before the Dawn
Craig, Albert M.
Chôshû in the Meiji Restoration
Harvard University Press. 1961
Shinsengumi: The Shogun's Last Samurai Corps
Ôkubo Toshimichi: The Bismarck of Japan
University of California.
Jansen, Marius B.
Sakamoto Ryoma and the Meiji Restoration
Columbis University Press.1995
Ketelaar, James edward
Of Heretics and Martys in Meiji Japan
Princeton University Press 1990
Najita Tetsuo and j. Victor Koschmann
Conflict in Modern Japanese History
Princeton University Press. 1982
The Last Samurai: The Life and Battles of Saigô Takamori
John Wiley & Sons 2004
A Diplomat in Japan
ICG Muse Inc. 2000
The Collapse of the Tokugawa Bakufu, 1862-1868
University Press of Hawaii. 1980
Women of the Mito Domain
Stanford University Press, 2001
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