The Meiji restoration has always fascinated me since it was such a turning point for modern Japan, so I decided to try and get some more information on this momentous event. I thought a book on Sakamoto Ryoma, one of the most loved figures of the era would be a good place to start, so I started with Marius Jansen's book Sakamoto Ryoma and the Meiji Restoration (1995). I wish more of the book had been written in the style of Jansen's preface to the Morningside Edition, where he discusses how Sakamoto's reputation grew with the postwar democracy movement and was brought into the mainstream by the popularity of Shiba Ryutaro's novel Ryoma ga yuku (1966), which then spread to depictions in a NHK TV series and a host of films, where I got my idea of Sakamoto as an agent of change in films like Masahiro Shinoda's Assassination (1964) and Hideo Gosha's Tenchu! (1969). The tone of the book is very academic and the events that led up to the restoration are confusing since there are so many different alliances and figures that were associated with these epochal changes in Japan at the time. I guess my take away about Sakamoto's contributions that he was able to see past his initial radical viewpoints and make alliances that would be beneficial for the nation. He seemed to be charismatic person and a natural unifier. That being said it was a struggle to get through Jansen's turgid prose, so I will search for a more readable version of the restoration and Sakamoto's role in it.