The Rape Of Nanking by Iris Chang
The Forgotten Holocaust Of World War II

75%

11 Critic Reviews

Likening the siege of Nanking to the recent genocide in Bosnia and Rwanda, the author reminds us that ""civilization itself is tissue-thin."" A compelling, agonizing chronicle.
-Publishers Weekly

Synopsis

In December 1937, in what was then the capital of China, one of the most brutal massacres in the long annals of wartime barbarity occurred. The Japanese army swept into the ancient city of Nanking (Nanjing) and within weeks not only looted and burned the defenseless city but systematically raped, tortured, and murdered more than 300,000 Chinese civilians. Amazingly, the story of this atrocity—one of the worst in world history—continues to be denied by the Japanese government.Based on extensive interviews with survivors and newly discovered documents in four different languages (many never before published), Iris Chang, whose own grandparents barely escaped the massacre, has written what will surely be the definitive, English-language history of this horrifying episode—one that the Japanese have tried for years to erase from public consciousness.The Rape of Nanking tells the story from three perspectives: that of the Japanese soldiers who performed it; of the Chinese civilians who endured it; and finally of a group of Europeans and Americans who refused to abandon the city and were able to create a safety zone that saved almost 300,000 Chinese. It was Chang who discovered the diaries of the German leader of this rescue effort, John Rabe, whom she calls the “Oskar Schindler of China.” A loyal supporter of Adolf Hitler but far from the terror planned in his Nazi-controlled homeland, he worked tirelessly to save the innocent from slaughter.But this book does more than just narrate details of an orgy of violence; it attempts to analyze the degree to which the Japanese imperial government and its militaristic culture fostered in the Japanese soldier a total disregard for human life.Finally, it tells one more shocking story: Despite the fact that the death toll at Nanking exceeded the immediate deaths from the atomic blasts at Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined (and even the total wartime casualty count of entire European countries), the Cold War led to a concerted effort on the part of the West and even the Chinese to court the loyalty of Japan and stifle open discussion of this atrocity. Indeed, Chang characterized this conspiracy of silence, which persists to this day, as “a second rape.”
 

About Iris Chang

See more books from this Author
Iris Chang’s numerous honors include the John T. and Catherine D. MacArthur Foundation’s Program on Peace and International Cooperation Award. Her work has appeared in many publications, including the New York Times, Newsweek, and Los Angeles Times.
 
Published May 7, 2012 by Basic Books. 338 pages
Genres: History, Travel, War, Education & Reference, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for The Rape Of Nanking
All: 11 | Positive: 9 | Negative: 2

Kirkus

Above average

Thus, while rigorous in its moral earnestness, the book is inadequate as a history. After a minimal background chapter on Japanese militarism, Chang, a freelance journalist, describes the Japanese assault on Nanking.

Read Full Review of The Rape Of Nanking: The Forg... | See more reviews from Kirkus

Publishers Weekly

Good

Likening the siege of Nanking to the recent genocide in Bosnia and Rwanda, the author reminds us that ""civilization itself is tissue-thin."" A compelling, agonizing chronicle.

Read Full Review of The Rape Of Nanking: The Forg... | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

BellaOnline

Above average

n Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II, Ms. Chang gathered very detailed information of the few month period in which would forever stain Chinese soil with the blood of many.

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Foreign Affairs

Good

Chang's account, based on extensive interviews with survivors and newly discovered documents, is utterly compelling yet, at the same time, in places unbearable to read. The author is at pains to emphasize that the massacre was a systematic effort...

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HistoryNet

Good
on Aug 12 2001

Chang, a Chinese-American, has written a searing account of the sack of Nanking. Although she is two generations removed from the events she describes, Chang first heard stories of the Japanese atrocities from her immigrant parents.

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HistoryNet

Good
on Aug 12 2001

Even for readers familiar with the horrors of the Holocaust, her book makes for harrowing reading. "Tens of thousands of young men," she writes, "were rounded up and herded to the outer limits of the city...

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CNN.com

Above average
on Jan 11 1999

Chang vividly, methodically, records what happened, piecing together the abundant eyewitness reports into an undeniable tapestry of horror. Driven mainly by an understandable outrage, she does not do such a good job of analyzing why the Japanese...

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Project MUSE

Good

Iris Chang's The Rape of Nanking is a landmark work because it finally reveals the least remembered and perhaps the most gruesome horrors of the Second World War: the atrocities committed by the Japanese Imperial Army on innocent Chinese civilians.

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The Moderate Voice

Excellent
on Nov 19 2007

I recommend this book highly, but keep in mind this is not for the ‘weak heart.’ Within the book you will find photos of Chinese people being tortured, decapitated...

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World War II Database

Above average
on Jul 31 2012

While the primary and secondary accounts she dug up were effective, the historical background that she presented to tie the stories together were occasionally incorrect.

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When Falls the Coliseum

Above average
on Jul 29 2009

The Rape of Nanking is a hard book to read because of its content, but an easy and engaging one, and I recommend it, despite the odds of it interfering with peaceful sleep.

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