Samurai Tales: Courage, Fidelity and Revenge in the Final Years of the Shogun - I actually read this a while ago but have been slack about writing up a review.
Look, a book with a picture of Sakamoto Ryoma on the cover, of course I'm going to read it.
After reading a bunch of dry and not that exciting history book for research, I loved Samurai Tales. The writer, Romulus Hillsborough (awesome name), doesn't just relate historical facts but weaves them into stories with all the details that storytellers love.
On top of that, he added in quite a lot of ancedotal stories, stories that he's researched or heard from people who were actually there at the time.
The book does start off with a retelling of the history. I skipped that bit because I don't need to read all that again. Then he goes into the more detailed stories. My favourite of these was from a descendant of one of the families who worked on the Sakamoto property. Apparently when Sakamoto left Kochi, he borrowed money from them, promising to return it one day. He never paid them back but they still have the IOU he gave them! I bet that's worth much more nowadays than the original debt.
I like knowing these facts and I like knowing how regular people perceived the historical events they lived though. Samurai Tales is definitely worth a read if you have an interest in Japanese history. I really enjoyed it.