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The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II Paperback – November 1, 1998

ISBN-13: 978-0140277449 ISBN-10: 0140277447

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Editorial Reviews Review

China has endured much hardship in its history, as Iris Chang shows in her ably researched The Rape of Nanking, a book that recounts the horrible events in that eastern Chinese city under Japanese occupation in the late 1930s. Nanking, she writes, served as a kind of laboratory in which Japanese soldiers were taught to slaughter unarmed, unresisting civilians, as they would later do throughout Asia. Likening their victims to insects and animals, the Japanese commanders orchestrated a campaign in which several hundred thousand--no one is sure just how many--Chinese soldiers and noncombatants alike were killed. Chang turns up an unlikely hero in German businessman John Rabe, a devoted member of the Nazi party who importuned Adolf Hitler to intervene and stop the slaughter, and who personally saved the lives of countless residents of Nanking. She also suggests that the Japanese government pay reparations and apologize for its army's horrific acts of 60 years ago. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

YA?The events in this book are horribly off-putting, which, paradoxically, is why they must be remembered. Chang tells of the Sino-Japanese War atrocities perpetrated by the invading Japanese army in Nanking in December 1937, in which roughly 350,000 soldiers and civilians were slaughtered in an eight-week period, many of them having been raped and/or tortured first. Not only are readers given many of the gory details?with pictures?but they are also told of the heroism of some members of a small foreign contingent, particularly of a Nazi businessman who resided in China for 30 years. The story of his bravery lends the ironic touch of someone with evil credentials doing good. Once the author finishes with the atrocities, she proceeds with the equally absorbing and much easier-to-take story of what happened to the Nazi businessman when he returned to Germany and the war ended. This by itself is material for a movie. The author tells why the Japanese government not only allowed the atrocities to occur but also refused, and continues to refuse, to acknowledge that they happened. She is quite evenhanded in reminding readers that every culture has some episode like this in its history; what makes this one important is the number of people killed and tortured, the sadism, and the ongoing Japanese denial of responsibility. Mature readers will look beyond the sensational acts of cruelty to ponder the horror of man's inhumanity to man and the examples of heroism in the midst of savagery.?Judy McAloon, Potomac Library, Prince William County, VA
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 290 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (November 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140277447
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140277449
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (799 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #103,007 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Iris Chang lived and worked in California. She was a journalism graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana and worked briefly as a reporter in Chicago before winning a graduate fellowship to the writing seminars program at The Johns Hopkins University. Her first book, Thread of the Silkworm (the story of Tsien Hsue-shen, father of the People's Republic of China's missile program) received world-wide critical acclaim. She is the recipient of the John T. and Catherine D. MacArthur Foundation's Program on Peace and International Cooperation award, as well as major grants from the National Science Foundation, the Pacific Cultural Foundation, and the Harry Truman Library. She passed away in 2004.

Customer Reviews

This is a difficult book to read, but one which is filled with important truths about what happened.
Barron Laycock
Chang could have been more objective, but after reading the book, it is hard to say anything positive about the Japanese behavior.
M. H. Bayliss
Excellent book concerning the crimes and atrocities committed against the Chinese in Nanking in 1937 by the Japanese army.
Harold Tucker

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

959 of 1,035 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 19, 2002
Format: Paperback
I read through the book and I think it is a very nicely written one. One minor point is that it would be nicer to note in the text the references documents in the style of academic articles. That would be easier for readers who are interested in digging into the original documents themselves. Nonetheless, I think that this book gave a very clear view of one of the saddest event ever happened in human history in a way that can be understood by general public.
I strongly disagreed with one of the reader's review for criticizing this book as "ridiculous". The reasons for my disagreement are as followed:
1. Criticizing Point:
"Iris Chang is a fourth-Generation Chinese American. She does not speak or understand any of the languages needed to examine this issue (Chinese, Japanese and German). I have concluded that all information used in this book is second-hand information, most of them is propaganda."
First of all, there are a lot of first hand references written in English, as were listed in the book. In fact, one of the reasons that Nanking Massacre was known to the world was because quite a few Europeans and Americans happened to witness and documented the event. If the reviewer considered none of those documents are first-hand documents, I am not sure what the definition of "first-hand" information is. In addition, some of the documents are even reported by Japanese themselves. It is not reasonable to report something against their own country if it is not truth, especially during the war time.
Second, according to what the author stated in the book, the author is a second generation Chinese American (not a very important point here, but it implies the reviewer may not read the book clearly before jumping into conclusion).
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98 of 101 people found the following review helpful By Christine Goldschmidt on November 12, 2004
Format: Paperback
When someone mentions the word holocaust, most often people will relate that word with the Germans and Jews during World War II. When Japan is mentioned, the first things that come to mind are the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Nanjing Massacre truly has been forgotten.

Now, the Japanese government denies that such massacres were actually committed in Nanjing. They say it is a story made up by the Chinese. If this story is a lie, then why and how did so many people die? Why are there pictures taken of these brutal acts by the Japanese soldiers? What about the Japanese confessions and their diaries to prove all the things they did? What about the hundreds of thousands of people who witnessed these crimes? What about the trials where many of the high ranking soldiers were found guilty and punished for their injustices? There is too much evidence against the Japanese soldiers to deny such cruelties

During World War II, so many horrible acts were committed against the innocent. When it was all over, the bodies were countless as well as the tears shed around the world. The Japanese stole the lives of many, and at the same time killed millions of innocent people. The horrible memory of the Nanjing Massacre still lives with many of those who survived through it. With all that happened in such a short amount of time, it's a shame that the Nanjing Massacre is labeled the forgotten holocaust--not only forgotten, but denied by the Japanese executioners.
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222 of 236 people found the following review helpful By drenchedinwine on November 11, 2004
Format: Paperback
Reading these reviews are making me more and more upset. First of all, I'm not trying to comment on Ms. Chang's journalism technique/sources/etc, because I don't have enough information to be a judge of that. I'm also not commenting about the "numbers war" in the reviews etc., because I didn't count the bodies; therefore, I don't know. But regardless of the discrepancies in numbers or the level of objectivity of Ms. Chang's work, the fact remains that the Japanese soldiers' atrocities against the Chinese DID happen.

I KNOW for sure that the Japanese soldiers did in fact commit many terrible atrocities against Chinese civilians, and often times in very sickeningly cruel systematic ways. Though I am American, both my parents are from Asia, and my father was a child in China during WWII. Ever since I was young, they've both told me about many of the horrible crimes that the Japanese committed against the Chinese during the war, as well as direct accounts that they've heard from people older than them. (So I guess my experience was similar to Iris's...hearing oral accounts from the older generation etc.). A lot of the atrocities that my parents told me about as a child coincided with the exact same happenings that Ms. Chang describes in the book. And mind you, my parents are NOT communist!! In fact, my Fathers family fought AGAINST the communist party in China, so he has no reason for spreading what many here are calling "communist propaganda." My experience is similar to many other second-generation Chinese people my age, in that many of my Chinese peers have parents who told them similar accounts as well.
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147 of 154 people found the following review helpful By GRH Duke on November 12, 2004
Format: Paperback
They haven't even bothered to publish a translated version.

Too bad the author passed away yesterday - we need more people like her to bring these incidents to light.
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