Book Notification

John Donohue Books In Order

Book links take you to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate I earn money from qualifying purchases.

Publication Order of Connor Burke and Yamashita Sensei Books

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

Forge of the Spirit (1991)Description / Buy at Amazon
Human Condition in the Modern Age (1994)Description / Buy at Amazon
Warrior Dreams (1994)Description / Buy at Amazon
Herding the Ox (1998)Description / Buy at Amazon
Complete Kendo (1999)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Overlook Martial Arts Reader (2004)Description / Buy at Amazon

John Donohue is an American martial artist and novelist whose works explore the implications of a life of action in elite martial arts training. Donohue got his first start in the martial arts in the seventies in an era when Kung Fu and Bruce Lee movies were very popular. As a person that had always had an interest in foreign cultures even going as far as studying them for his doctorate, he was captivated with the Asian perspective of old-fashioned martial arts that integrated physical technique and philosophical concepts. He started his training on the real martial arts from several popular how to manuals from Bruce Tegner and Kung Fu. Trying out the concepts, he soon found out that there was more to martial arts than just training and reading a manual. He studied different styles from different teachers over the years. He got started in college where he took karate classes for PE credit or as intramurals. At Stony Brook University, he studied Shotokan Karatedo under Mori Masataka, a highly skilled sensei with whom he would go on to train with several years after graduation. A few years after graduating from college, he enrolled under Shiina Kiyoshi who taught him judo. Meanwhile, he was conducting a research study on martial art tradition while working with Hagihara Edi on aikido, and kendo with Kataoka Noboru. He would also study kendo under Kimura Hiroaki and some taiji and more karatedo under Master Liu Hong-guang. With such great sensei’s as tutors, he is one of the most accomplished writers on traditional martial arts.

Having been around for over 30 years, John Donohue is a well-known practitioner and scholar of the martial arts. With his fascination with the potential and the themes of human action possible in the discipline, John believed he could have an even greater impact writing martial arts fiction. In 2000, he started working on his first Connor Burke thriller titled “Sensei” that was finally published in 2003. A sequel titled “Deshi” in 2005, and Tengu the third title in the series followed in 2008. Given that he had always been fascinated with the Asian martial art and cultural aspects of Asia, writing about a character of action and philosophy came easy to him. He majored in Shotokan Karatedo in college and then proceeded for more practical training and education. He attended State University of New York at Stony Brook from where he got his Anthropology Ph.D. His doctorate was an analysis of Japanese martial arts cultural aspects most of which found their way into his debut title “The Forge of the Spirit”. After graduating from college, he held jobs in publishing, advertising, and in the hospitality industry, though most of his adult life has been spent working in education. When he has not been writing he has been either a senior level manager of a college or a teacher of some kind. Fusing his way with the sword and the pen, John is an expert in several martial arts disciplines including taiji, kendo, karatedo, judo, jaido, and aikido. He has a black belt in both kendo and karatedo.

John Donohue is best known for the Connor Burke series of novels that feature the lead protagonist Connor Burke. Burke is an interesting and finely realized character with complex motivations and feelings, who is a combination of martial artist and college professor. He is what you would describe as a thinking man’s hero who always finds himself at the center of a police investigation called in for his expertise and background. Most of the characters in the Connor Burke series are finely realized, though what makes the novels so great is their pacing and compelling atmosphere. Similar to James Lee Burke’s Robicheaux, Connor Burke is a man focused on matter of trust and conscience being thoughtful and contemplative in his introspective narration of events. He is a very sympathetic and interesting character whose adventures make for pleasant reading. Nonetheless, even as the action sequences are thrilling and lively, the stories remain centered and calm. These are your typical American Japanese stories that blend Japanese philosophy with American culture. They are set in Brooklyn and involve stories of Japanese martial arts training and the usual NYPD police drama.

“Sensei” the first novel of the series opens to a baffling case of a serial killer. The killer has the same modus operandi but typically leaves only one clue on the wall, a cryptic message that he signs with the Japanese title for a samurai under tutelage “Ronin”. Connor Burke’s brother who is a NYPD detective calls him in to help, given his martial arts background and knowledge of Japanese philosophy. Enlisting the help of Yamashita Sensei the master warrior and former teacher of his, they begin to follow the trail that stretches across place and time. In doing this, Burke is faced to awaken his sense of honor and confront his fears, if he is to find and neutralize the “Ronin” as the killer likes to style himself as. The novel is a combination of the gritty bolts and nuts aspects of murder investigations, with exotic Japanese martial arts philosophy, to make for a riveting thriller exploring the links between a sense of belonging, identity, and the struggle for mastery.

“Deshi” the second novel of the Connor Burke and Yamashita Sensei series sees Connor Burke the black belt artist and Asian scholar laboring as a deshi of one of the best masters in Brooklyn. He soon finds himself front and center of a murder investigation when a Japanese businessman is executed by unknown persons. Connor’s brother of the NYPD asks him to help by interpreting some calligraphy scrawls that the victim had managed to write before he expired. The perplexing message leads him on a trail that leads to a group of samurais that are the students of a mysterious martial arts sensei. Things become even more interesting when one of the trails leads to a clairvoyant Tibetan, who points him towards an elite mountain temple in an unknown wilderness, where he will have to confront one of his deadliest challenges yet. It is an elegant narrative with spare prose reflecting the spiritual simplicity of martial arts that is underpinned by intense action sequences interspersed with the mystical.

Book Series In Order » Authors » John Donohue

Leave a Reply