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The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II

4.1 out of 5 stars 862 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0140277449
ISBN-10: 0140277447
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com 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 (862 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #101,747 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

Top Customer Reviews

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."
Disagreement:
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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Format: Paperback
This is one of the darkest pages in World history. We all humanbeing should remember it and make world a better place.
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By Samantha on October 27, 2004
Format: Paperback
I read "The Rape of Nanking:The Forgotten Holocaust of WWII" and I thought it was a great book. I didnt even know that the Japanese went to war with the Chinese, and I learned a lot about it since I have read it. Iris Chang gave so many details of the gruesome war that I couldnt believed it happened. You could just imagine how the victims felt through the authors words. How Chang found the few remaining survivors is amazing. The victims are mostly elderly and they still remember the war and can tell you the stories they went through or witnessed. The author, in my sense, justs wants people to realize that this did happen, a forgotten holocaust. For people to know about this is how it is kept prevented from happening again. I realized that when I read this book that wars like that are still going on in this world. I really enjoyed this book from every perspective. I gained so much more knowledge of what had happened some odd years ago.
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Format: Paperback
This book provides the truth that happened duing World War II. Cannot believe japanese goverment still try to deny the atrocities they made to the other Asian contries. japanese goverment even juggle the textbook and deny this massacre to their next generation. In this forum, some japanese even jump out and try to deny the facts. If you want to know who is lying, just do some research if you can. There are many evidences in China can give you the truth.
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Format: Paperback
it reminds me my days in nanking, when I met many people whose relatives were killed by fuxking brutal Japanese.
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I am saddened at Iris Chang's recent death. She was truly a brilliant young historian who courageously told the story of Japanese atrocities in China during WW2. This story, up until now, received little attention in the United States. This I could never understand. Yet Ms. Chang, through her relentless research, has uncovered a gruesome and horrific part of human history and told it to the world. I am very disturbed by all the comments written on this forum by people who claim these stories are communist China (PRC) propaganda. Hardly. The Chinese in Taiwan (ROC), PRC's archenemy, share the same views on these irrefutable facts of East Asian history. I don't blame the Japanese people and others on this forum,who seem to be using this book review section as their personal blog to argue WW2 facts (some of whom have submitted multiple entries).Perhaps, they are ignorant and misinformed. Perhaps, they just can't accept that the ugliness demonstrated by the Japanese may be a part of them.
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Format: Paperback
A few years ago, on the 4th of July, a friend of mine from high school commited suicide. He hung himself while riding a train en route to New York. I wasn't called or invited to the funeral.

A couple of years later I saw his mother at a wedding. She was obviously still deep in the process of grief. She had a vacancy in her eyes that matched the one in my soul. Somehow I allowed her to corner me and to ask me the question: why? I gave the only answer I could have; a meaningless and sympathic answer that must have been as false as it sounded.

Today on NPR I hear, "Iris Chang, the bestselling non-fiction author of the 'Rape of Nanking,' was discovered dead in a car on the side of a California highway, an apparent suicide." She shot herself.

Her friend, Ignatius Ding, says of her: "She saw all of the dark side of human history. She was so sad and frustrated to see, day in and day out, what people could do to their fellow human beings. Those images hung over her all the time. Her room was like a shrine. This is where she had lived for the last ten years ever since I have known her. She cried a lot and was so depressed about the unfortunate past. Her study was just full of maps, pictures, photos. She posted all of it on the wall to keep track of the things she was writing. This is where she lived and it was like a shadow over her life all the time."

This is something like what I said to my friend's mother. I imagine that, as this explanation of a courageous woman's death, my words were just as false.
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