Troy Parfitt's Reviews > The Rape of Nanking

The Rape of Nanking by Iris Chang
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Mar 07, 11


I had known about this book for quite some time, but only got around to reading it recently. You need quite a bit of mental fortitude to get through such a book; it is graphic in the extreme. I stealed myself for the effort, but got quite upset by about page 80. The accounts of savagery - gang rape almost always followed by murder, dousing people with gas and setting them alight, using live subjects for bayoneting practice, and so on - require a kind of mental detachment that may be hard to summon.

The book is much, much more than accounts from diaries, etc., although these are engrossing. There is all sorts of research here: the manner in which the city of Nanjing was abandoned by Chiang Kai-shek, the Tokyo War Crimes tribunal, Communist Party spin on the atrocities after it came to power, and efforts in Japan to deny and cover up the slaughter. I seldom use the phrase 'page-turner' to decribe a book, but that's what this book is. It is one mind-boggling, shocking scenario after another. It is teaming with facts and examples, and penned in a fine, accessible style. The book's subtitle, 'The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II,' is apt, not some marketing ploy. The bits about John Rabe alone, a Nazi living in Nanjing who did whatever he could to save people's lives, make this worth reading. The Rape of Nanking is a fascinating "lost chapter" of twentieth century world history.
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