Shomeret's Reviews > The Nanjing Massacre in History and Historiography

The Nanjing Massacre in History and Historiography by Joshua A. Fogel
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May 27, 12

bookshelves: history, my-reviews, essays

After reviewing The Nanjing Massacre by Honda Katsuichi last month, I decided to pursue the subject further. I found The Nanjing Massacre in History and Historiography edited by Joshua A. Fogel in the sources of the Wikipedia article on Honda Katsuichi.

One of the problems in historical discussion of this event is what the editor of this anthology calls "the numbers game". Greater numbers of dead are supposed to lend more significance. The numbers for the Nanjing Massacre depend on what is included. Honda Katsuichi included the killing of prisoners of war and other massacres of civilians en route to Nanjing. His concept is that the Nanjing Massacre was not a single event. It must be seen in context. Mark Eykholt in his essay "Aggression, Victimization and Chinese Historiography of the Nanjing Massacre" is concerned about how the inflation of numbers undermines the legitimacy of survivors' claims. It also allows Japanese critics of the historicity of the Nanjing Massacre (and there still are some who claim that it never happened) to dismiss it completely.

An item used as evidence has also compromised the historical case for the atrocities in Nanjing. In "The Challenges of the Nanjing Massacre", Daqing Yang discusses a photo submitted as evidence to the post-war Tokyo Trial which has been challenged because the Japanese soldiers depicted were wearing summer uniforms. The established time for the Nanjing Massacre is the winter of 1937-1938. It seems to me that this invalidates that particular photo. It doesn't mean that there was no massacre.

For my entire review that includes mention of a banned book about the Nanjing Massacre written in 1938 and Unit 731 which experimented with chemical and biological warfare, go to:

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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Judy (new)

Judy *waving* at you, Sho. I'm in Beijing with The Foremost Good Fortune. Then its off to Nanking with The Rape of Nanking. I'm already way over budget with China, so should I read your book, too?

message 2: by Shomeret (last edited May 27, 2012 10:46AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Shomeret For me, this book was very worthwhile because I wanted to know more about Japanese who resist their government's official view of the Nanjing Massacre. I did find out about some incredible people as you can see on my blog.

BTW, there is also some criticism of Iris Chang's book in this one re "the numbers game".

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