Toward the middle of the sixteenth century, as the Ashikaga shogunate crumbled, Japan came to resemble one huge battlefield. Rival warlords vied for dominance, but from among them three great figures emerged, like meteors streaking against the night sky. These three men, alike in their passion to control and unify Japan, were strikingly different in personality: Nobunaga, rash, decisive, brutal; Hideyoshi, unassuming, subtle, complex; Ieyasu, calm, patient, calculating. Their divergent philosophies have long been recalled by the Japanese in a verse known to every schoolchild:
What if the bird will not sing?
Nobunaga answers, "Kill it!"
Hideyoshi answers, "Make it want to sing."
Ieyasu answers, "Wait."
This book, Taiko (the title by which Hideyoshi is still known in Japan), is the story of the man who made the bird want to sing.