This post really should go in the MA books section, but who looks at that???
I recently obtained a book called Shotokan's Secret, The hidden truth behind Karate's fighting origins, by Bruce D Clayton. Don't let the name put you off, it is not about Secret death touch fireball techniques, but the name does make sense when you get into the subject matter.
This is everything a Karate Book should be. It actually has new information and ideas, something I'd given up on finding in a Karate book years ago.
Most importantly this book fills in the gaps by linking all the hinted scraps of info together. For example most photo's and written accounts of the great okinawan masters mention they were friends and that they shared information, Funakoshi even states that he was sent off to train with various masters across the island. However talk to the students of the various ryu and most everybody will be pointing out how wrong the other styles are in their technique and execution.
This book blows many such myths out of the water and presents an interesting theory as to the true nature of Shuri-te Karate. The really controversial point is that the book points to Shotokan and Shito ryu as the most authentic Shuri-te/Shorin ryu styles around.
Yeah I knew you guys would love that! [IMG]http://www.fightingarts.com/forums/ubb/biggrin.gif[/IMG]
The basic premis is that all the great shuri-te masters, the students of Matsumura all worked together and lived in very close proximity. The art Matsumura taught them was a bodygaurds art, for fast destruction of an enemy (allowing you to face many) in order to protect someone else. This involved removing most of the grappling, night fighting (imagine being attacked on a country road with no street lights) and ground work techniques that wer present in the southern kung fu styles that were Karates origin.
Whatever you feel about Shotokan, buy and read this book. It is well written and a very interesting read. All the little tid-bits of Karate history come together very neatly in this work and the picture Dr Clayton paints of Old Okinawa ad it's Karateka is a fascinating one.