The one on the cover seems not a ninja. It's a well known hero in Chinese tale. His name is Sun Wukong. He is famous for his 72 kinds of skills. He can fly on the cloud. He can run thousands of miles in a second. Please correct me if it's not him. Is there a ninja like this in Japanese history? Would you please share with us why this figure is picked to be the cover?
I just received the final "front matter" for the book, and here's what Manning has to say about the source of the artwork:
About the cover illustration
Samurai and ninjas were both warriors excelling in the Japanese art of war, known for their bravery and cunning. Samurai were elite soldiers, well-educated men who knew how to read and write as well as fight, and they were bound by a strict code of honor called Bushido (The Way of the Warrior), which was passed down orally from generation to generation, starting in the 10th century. Recruited from the aristocracy and upper classes, analagous to European knights, samurai went into battle in large formations, wearing elaborate armor and colorful dress which meant to impress and intimidate. Ninjas were chosen for their martial arts skills rather than their social standing or education. Dressed in black and with their faces covered, they were sent on missions alone or in smaller groups to attack the enemy with subterfuge and stealth, using any tactics to assure success; their only code was one of secrecy.
The cover illustration is from a set of three Japanes prints owned for many years by a Manning editor, and when we were looking for a ninja for the cover of this book, the striking samurai print came to our attention and was selected for its intricate details, vibrant colors, and vivid depiction of a ferocious warrior ready to strike—and win.
At a time when it is hard to tell one computer book from another, Manning celebrates the inventiveness and initiative of the computer business with book covers based on two-hundred year old illustrations that depict the rich diversity of traditional costumes from around the world, brought back to life by prints such as this one.