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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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Product Details

  • Paperback: 290 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (November 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140277447
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140277449
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (770 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #419,420 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.

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

946 of 1,018 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."
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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108 of 111 people found the following review helpful By Yu Cheng on November 12, 2004
Format: Paperback
I will suppress my hatred and treat Japanese people nicely. I will ask for nothing in return but remembering what your cruel army had done to us Chinese!
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115 of 119 people found the following review helpful By Chimonsho on November 12, 2004
Format: Paperback
We deeply miss Iris Chang already in the days after her death. She was a favorite writer of mine, and definitely among the best of current popular historians. Her work is both scholarly and superbly readable, suffused with feeling for history's victims, and anger at cruelty and injustice. This led some critics to fault her for bias, and this book is off the mark in assuming that Japanaese are united in denying the Rape of Nanking. But her passionate partisanship compels attention to overlooked injustices of modern history. This is the common thread running through all her work ("Rape of Nanking," Chinese in America," Thread of the Silkworm"). The grim subjects she dealt with possibly played a part in the circumstances leading to her death, although we should refrain from passing judgement. Iris was researching a book on Americans fighting Japanese in the Philippines during the Pacific War. We can only hope that enough progress was made so that one final gem will appear under her name. She continues to inspire others to follow the trails she blazed.
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137 of 143 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 14, 1998
Format: Paperback
I could not read Iris Chang's The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II more than a few pages or at most a chapter at a time. I could not bear to look at many of the pictures. The story she tells -- of the brutal murdering, rape, and desecration of Nanking in 1937, causing several hundred thousand deaths -- was just too much for me. This is a story, however, that must be learned and read. Beyond the individual tales of torture, rape, vivisection, beheadings, and rapes, however, are the larger questions. First, the events of Nanking were front page news (with photographs) in the New York Times and other sources as it occurred, yet apparently little western reaction ensued. How can the world so easily accept genocide or democide? Chang's comment: "Apparently some quirk in human nature allows even the most unspeakable acts of evil to become banal within minutes provided only that they occur far enough away to pose no personal threat." (As Chang notes, the modern equivalent to Nanking is the nightly CNN tapes of Rwanda and Bosnia, again seen in the comfort of our homes). Second, and mercifully balanced against this corporate apathy are the few heros, Europeans and Americans, who created a "safety zone" in the city and saved perhaps hundreds of thousands of lives. She describes John Rabe, a Nazi party member resident in Nanking, as the "Iskar Schindler of China". Stories such as the Nanking Rape, the Jewish Holocaust, and other modern holocausts must be taught and remembered, or they bear even greater likelihood of repetition than the already depressing scorecard from this century shows.
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255 of 271 people found the following review helpful By EricCinSF on November 11, 2004
Format: Paperback
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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