The Rape of Nanking
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The Rape of Nanking

4.04 of 5 stars 4.04  ·  rating details  ·  10,934 ratings  ·  888 reviews
In December 1937, the Japanese army invaded the ancient city of Nanking, systematically raping, torturing, and murdering more than 300,000 Chinese civilians. This book tells the story from three perspectives: of the Japanese soldiers who performed it, of the Chinese civilians who endured it, and of a group of Europeans and Americans who refused to abandon the city and were...more
Paperback, 290 pages
Published November 1st 1998 by Penguin Books (first published 1997)
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Taka
Gripping--

As a Japanese, it pisses me off how history turned out for the Class A war criminals who never got reprimanded or punished after the war, and it pisses me off all the more for the government's steady and FUCKED-UP denial of its past war crimes. Both the ultranationalists and those conservative politicians who outright label the incident a mere "fabrication" and "lie" deserve to die right away without mercy of any kind. In Germany, it's punishable by law to deny Holocaust. In Japan, the...more
Ed
Jun 21, 2008 Ed rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone who is unaware of this incident
Iris Chang committed suicide. I can't help wondering if doing the research for this book didn't create or deepen her depression. She was an obviously passionate person and turning that passion loose on uncovering what really happened in Nanking in December 1937 must have shook her deeply.

Just reading it shook me deeply.

As a history major in college, I was aware of the allegations against the Japanese in WWII, not just in Nanking but all over S.E. Asia. As an ongoing student of WWII and someone w...more
Chrissie
ETA: There is much more in this book than the simple listing of atrocities committed. How came it to be that the Japanese soldiers lost all natural sense of right and wrong? Why did the world look away? Why has punishment never been allotted? What can be done to prevent this from happening again? All of these questions are addressed in the book. (Michael, I am adding this for you.)

****************

EVERYBODY should read this book.

Yes, that means YOU.

I am annoyed:

at myself. I have had this on m...more
stephanie
this book is what it is - which is shoddy, shoddy history.

it is, however, excellent, excellent memory.

(ahh, see how compelling this distinction can be??)

chang is a journalist, but she doesn't seem to be one in this book, as she blindly does what she accuses the japanese of doing - which is presenting a one-sided reality.

no matter what chang said, the captions on the pictures were mislabeled. the japanese historians - by which i mean, historians focused on japan - resoundingly pointed out err...more
Jen
Mar 15, 2007 Jen rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone, especially the history-deficient
I'm pretty ignorant when it comes to history. I know very little, and what little I do know tends to cluster around Ancient Greece and wars that the U.S. was engaged in. The pathetic information I have stored about World War II consists of 1) German Nazis killed millions of people. 2) Stalin killed millions of people. 3) The Japanese bombed Peal Harbor. 4) We put Japanese-Americans in internment camps. 5) Plutonium and Uranium bombs were dropped on the cities of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Somewhere...more
Will Byrnes
I read this book in 1999 and was surprised to find that it was not on my GR list. I was not writing detailed reviews at the time so my single paragraph will have to suffice, but I did take down a few significant passages from the book, and pasted those at the bottom.

This book tells of the Japanese destruction, truly a "rape" of Nanking in December 1937. It is estimated that up to 350,000 people were murdered within a few weeks, many horribly. The Japanese have never acknowledged this atrocity, a...more
Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
This book made me feel ashamed to be human.
Ben
Apr 10, 2008 Ben added it
Due to the nature of this book, I decided first not to demean its contents and the events of history with a rating.

I think it is first important to establish that the events that took place in Nanking during the invasion and its occupation did happen to horrific degrees. This book explores the very real deaths of an estimated 300,000 Chinese soldiers and civilians at the hands of the Japanese army during WWII.

As for this book, my thoughts are brief. As a book on a historical event, I found it s...more
Hadrian
Not the most systematic history, but instead a frightening compilation of memories. There are a few nagging stylistic or minor technical errors, but this should not detract from the sheer scale of this atrocity, and Chang's remarkable effort in bringing it to light in Western scholarship.
K.D. Absolutely
The book was published in 1997. Seven years after, Iris Chang (1968-2004), probably due to the pressures from Japanese revisionists for writing this book among others, killed herself. One of her three suicide notes says:
"There are aspects of my experience in Louisville that I will never understand. Deep down I suspect that you may have more answers about this than I do. I can never shake my belief that I was being recruited, and later persecuted, by forces more powerful than I could have imagin
...more
Dj
Reading this book is painful and mind numbing. It is the kind of book that anyone and everyone that reads military history should be obligated to read to get the full sense of what it is that is being glorified. It is also the kind of book that reminds me why I don't read that much on the Holocaust.

I have no problem realizing the reality of the horror of these events. Nor do I think that because they are so incredibly sickening that they didn't happen. It is disturbing, unsettling to realize th...more
Shaun
Looking back upon millennia of history, it appears clear that no race or culture has a monopoly on wartime cruelty. The veneer of civilizations seems to be exceedingly thin--one that can be easily stripped away, especially by the stresses of war.


Back in early 2000, I had the privilege to treat a patient who, as a college grad, had immigrated from China to the US. During one of our many conversations she began to tell me a shocking story which involved Japanese brutalities, including the slici...more
Juanita
The Rape of Nanking was an experience.

I’d finished this book several weeks ago but couldn’t write about it for some time because of the emotional toll reading this took on me.

Reading this book I felt profound emotion, the most surprising of them was shame. I felt shame for not having realized this massacre for my entire 36 years of life. I felt shame for the human race - that something could cause us to behave so sadistically, so heartlessly. And finally shame for not having seen genocide as t...more
Bruce
Feb 18, 2008 Bruce rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: those interested in historiography
After all the hype, I found this book to be a bit disappointing. It was a bestseller, largely I suspect because it blew the English-language lid off a major Japanese WWII atrocity. The book isn't long -- about 220 pages -- nor does it have much to say about the Rape of Nanking itself, an awful, brutal rampage in which the Japanese army ran amok in the captured city, looting, burning, torturing, and killing over 300,000 (over 400,000?) civilians and disarmed combatants alike and raping (and other...more
Lisa (Harmonybites)
The "Rape of Nanking" refers to the astounding atrocities committed by invading Japanese soldiers during the first several weeks of their occupation of Nanking, then China's capital, slaughtering perhaps half the city's population. From 250 to 350 thousand non-combatants killed and 20 to 80 thousand women raped in a matter of six to eight weeks after Nanking fell in December of 1937. The book tells that story through the Japanese soldiers who witnessed and took part, the Chinese survivors, and a...more
Heather
This is easily one of the most disturbing books that I’ve read. The atrocities inflicted by the Japanese soldiers on the Chinese people almost defy belief. I read several parts of it through tears and with an aching heart thinking of the people that suffered through such unspeakable horrors. I hope that as time goes on that more and more people are made aware of The Rape of Nanking and that it becomes as well known to the masses as Hitler’s Holocaust is. People need to know of this dark period i...more
Charlene Intriago
I was going to give this book only four stars, but then I realized it was amazing that the book was even written. I have to admit the title had always caught my eye but I truly knew nothing about this event until I read the book. I found myself "fact checking" dates and people mentioned just to be sure Iris Chang's book wasn't the only reference to these folks and the event, but I found something about each and every one. The book is graphic in its descriptions of the atrocities. The author did...more
Ariel
I picked this up after reading Unbroken in which this period of history was mentioned. I, like I think a lot of people, did not know anything about this aspect of WWII history. In Unbroken it is referenced as being so bad that it terrified the American soldiers greatly and they were deathly afraid to be captured by the Japanese. My interest peaked and I decided to learn more.

I seem to be specializing in little known holocausts as I am also reading Sandcastle Girls which deals with the Armenian g...more
Albert Yee
This is an incredibly powerful book, the only one I've read in my 30 years that has made me cry. I had to put it down several times and step away from it in order to come back and finish it.

As an American born Korean, it was very hard reading this book. The relationship of Japan and the rest of Asia has always been an odd one and reading this book proved challenging and my reaction towards Japanese was definitely colored by my reading of this book. The atrocities were so recent and Chang writes...more
Regina Lindsey
"Americans think of World War II as beginning on December 7, 1941, when Japanese carrier-based airplanes attacked Pearl Harbor. Europeans date it from September 1, 1939, and the blitzkrieg assault on Poland by Hitler's Luftwaffe and Panzer divisions. Africans see an earlier beginning, the invasion of Ethiopia by Mussolini in 1935. Yet Asians must trace the war's beginnings all the way back to Japan's first steps toward teh military domination of East Asia - the occupation of Manchuria in 1931."...more
Marialyce
Just try to picture the most horrid, awful, brutal in humanity ever since you learned about the German Holocaust, and you will only touch the tip of the iceberg in discovering the events of Nanking. This book makes your blood run cold and your belief in humanity take a millions steps backwards. It is not a book to be read by the faint of heart, but one that gives you all the harrowing details of how people who think they are superior to all others take the lives of those they consider below pigs...more
Kristen C
Because of the subject matter, I have decided not to rate the book. I am unable to distinguish rating a book for its writing versus its content in cases like this, and feel it would be disrespectful to put a certain number of stars next to a book that discusses the systematic rape, torture, and murder of hundreds of thousands of people.

That being said, I do see some comments about this story only clearly exploring the Chinese view of the massacre. That makes sense to me, considering the awkward...more
BJ Rose
This is easily a 5* book, but I did not enjoy the reading of it. So why did I read the story of this absolutely brutal horror? For the same reason I spent a day at the Holocaust Museum - to honor and remember the victims. In her epilogue, the author talked about 3 lessons to be learned, and she feels that the third lesson is the most distressing of all: how frighteningly easy it is for the human mind to accept genocide when we are removed from it.

The author makes little attempt to be objective;...more
Anthony
It's been awhile since I've read something as powerful as this. At times I felt as through I were on the brink of weeping for this was a terrifyingly candid and brutally visceral account of what transpired during the fall of Nanjing.
The censorship, denial, and revisionist stance taken by the far-right in Japan, as described in the book, was equally repugnant and disconcerting. And to add insult to injury:

"One of the greatest ironies of the Cold War is that Japan not only eluded its responsibili...more
Michael Flanagan
This book was such a compelling read I finished in a day. An important but disturbing book which everyone should read. The rape of Nanking was an atrocities which was nearly lost due to the over shadowing atrocities of the Nazis. This is what History is about to learn, never forget and never repeat. The author has written a well balanced book dealing with all sides of the event. It is a book I will never forget.
Jim
Frightening, compelling and disgusting. A relatively unknown story that rivals the Nazi holocaust--what the Japanese did to the Chinese in Nanking in WW II. It explains a lot about why many Chinese hate the Japanese...and makes me uncomfortable about how the Americans helped hide this massacre for their own gain.
Ronald Schoedel
First of all, this is an extremely difficult book to stomach. I had no clue what rating to give this one. Five stars makes it sound like I "liked" the book. I hated it. I hated that such a book has a reason to exist. I did however appreciate that an entire historical event that has largely been swept under the rug has become accessible in this book, first published in 1997--six decades after the events described. So, I wouldn't necessarily "recommend" this book to anyone, as the cruelest, most i...more
Stephan van der Linde
The atrocities on Nanking (Peking present day) by the Japanese army in 1937-1938, killed at least 300.000 people.

A dirty history not really known, in the big shadow of World War II.
I think it's very important to know what the Chinese civilians have suffered and been through.

Iris Chang describes how Japan invades the capital-city and how they occupied it.

This book contains mostly very cruel(!) torture, executions, rape, assaults and more.

Japan was a cruel population. Here is described as well...more
thewanderingjew
Beginning in 1937 and continuing until 1945, Japan controlled the capital city of Nationalist China, Nanking. They had already conquered Shanghai. This military effort was part of their ongoing design to conquer Asia. Their barbarism has largely remained unknown because of political efforts to silence the truth. Shining a light on the brutality of the Japanese during that era is essential if our intent is to prevent such a "Holocaust" from occurring again. As Chang quotes Santayana, those who do...more
Larry
I have read both sides of the argument that this is either shoddy journalism and heavily biased, or a chilling recap of a horrible time in the world's history.

It's a little of both I think really. This book hit me very hard. I've done a lot of reading on this period in history so none of this came off to me as all that new or surprising. Chang outs a series of different perspectives, ending with a bitter indictment of the Imperial leadership in Japan at that time.

If nothing else, read this book...more
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Iris Shun-Ru Chang was a Chinese-American historian and journalist. She was best known for her best-selling 1997 account of the Nanking Massacre, The Rape of Nanking. She committed suicide on November 9, 2004, when she was just 36 years old.

The daughter of two university professors who had emigrated from China, Chang was born in Princeton, New Jersey and raised in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois where...more
More about Iris Chang...
The Chinese in America: A Narrative History Thread of the Silkworm

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“As the Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel warned years ago, to forget a holocaust is to kill twice.” 50 likes
“Almost all people have this potential for evil, which would be unleashed only under certain dangerous social circumstances.” 27 likes
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