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.
I knew something of the crimes against the Chinese at this time but this book is a full, complete and I might add grafic account. The book helped explain how the Japanese culture could allow for such a thing to be permited. Adults only.
I found this book most interesting when read alongside Paula Kamen's Finding Iris Chang: Friendship, Ambition and the loss of an Extraordinary Mind.
The author of The Rape of Nanking did an amazing job of researching and writing about events that politics have largely erased from historical awareness, and she paid dearly for her efforts.
Both these books are "Must reads" for anyone interested in history as it happens, rather than as it is publicized. I got both books very quickly from PBS, my source for history!
An amazing book. So little is known about this period. What happened to the Chinese during World War II got lost in the revolution and the Cold War. The Japanese have tried to ignore what happened. Iris Chang researched the stories of the Chinese, Japanese and Westerners who lived during this nightmare. It is a must read for it helps understand current attitudes in Asia.
Iris Chang is a wonderful writer. This book describes the many injustices done to the Chinese. It is written in a way that it honors the dead, those who tried to save lives, and to try rationalize why the Japanese did what they did. I read for a History class and was glad I did. I truly had no idea that another Holocaust happened and gets little to no press about it. If you want to read more about this war time tragedy, pick this book, but be prepared to be haunted by it long after you put it down.
A Japanophile friend once asked me why the Chinese harbor such animosity against the Japanese. When he rejected my suggestion that it might be due to the collective memory of the atrocities committed by the Japanese during World War II—which I have always heard about growing up—in favor of propaganda spewed by the Chinese government, I decided to read The Rape of Nanking, the first full-length non-fiction account of the massacre in English, to learn more about this almost mythical event for myself. Chinese-American Iris Chang has laid out an organized and well-researched account of what happened in Nanking (now known as Nanjing) when the Japanese defeated the city in late 1937. The first half is a 360-degree view of the incident itself, from the perspectives of the Japanese conquerors, the Chinese victims, and the foreigners who tried to establish a 'Safety Zone' within the city. Be warned it starkly relates the story of massive scale rape, gruesome torture, and ruthless killing—with casualties rivaling those of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined. The second part is a scathing indictment of how the entire international community has allowed the Rape of Nanking to fade into historical obscurity, with the Japanese escaping without apologies, reparations, or even acknowledging the massacre even occurred in its history textbooks. Although a bit too finger-pointing for my taste, it makes the undeniable case that how Germany and the Holocaust were treated is vastly different from Japan and its aggressions during WWII. It is a shame that we lost the author Iris Chang to mental illness and suicide in 2004.
A must read. Thouroghly researched. Not overbearing in presentation. Very intelligently written; not condescending in any way.
An important part of history almost unknown too many, especially here in the US.
Not an easy read for the simple reason that descriptions of the crimes that were committed against the Chineese people of the city are documented factually and without glossing over the intense suffering present. It is also uncomfortable to probe the author's assertion that the veneer of civilzation is so paper thin that any human being, under the right (or rather, wrong) set of circumstances could perpetrate similar crimes. It was the systematic abuse of young students in Japan's militaristic educational system of the time that indoctronated and desensetized them into a code of thinking and behaving that was feral. The Japaneese or German militarists were no different in their human nature than any other person born to this planet.
* * * * *. History. Harrowing, unbelievable account of the atrocious acts Japanese soldiers committed against the men, women and children of this small town. The book looks at the events that led up to this inhuman massacre, how the Japanese government denied the events, and a few heroes that rose help the people of Nanking. Not recommended for the weak stomachs.