Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Finding Iris Chang: Friendship, Amibition, and the Loss of an Extraordinary Mind” as Want to Read:
Finding Iris Chang: Friendship, Amibition, and the Loss of an Extraordinary Mind
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Finding Iris Chang: Friendship, Amibition, and the Loss of an Extraordinary Mind

3.55  ·  Rating details ·  228 ratings  ·  57 reviews
Iris Chang, bestselling author of The Rape of Nanking and tireless human rights activist, symbolized strength to many in the literary and social justice worlds. Her fearlessness made it all the more shocking when she committed suicide in 2004 at age thirty-six. Longtime friend and confidante Paula Kamen, author of the critically acclaimed All in My Head, reveals for the fi ...more
Audio CD, 5 pages
Published November 9th 2007 by Blackstone Audiobooks (first published 2007)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Finding Iris Chang, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Finding Iris Chang

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.55  · 
Rating details
 ·  228 ratings  ·  57 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Finding Iris Chang: Friendship, Amibition, and the Loss of an Extraordinary Mind
Feb 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
"Finding Iris Chang: Friendship, Ambition, and the Loss of an Extraordinary Mind" by Paula Kamen is an entirely different kind of mystery than yesterday's "Echoes." For starters, it's non-fiction; but it's an equally compelling page-turner with some surprising revelations at the end of the story — a literary, rather than a criminal, investigation.

Kamen became friends with Chang after convincing her to switch majors from computer science to journalism; she then found herself eating Chang's dust a
Dec 10, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I considered giving this book a 5 because I really do think it was comprehesive in its treatment of Chang's life and surrounding suicide, but there was something a little self-indulgent about the writing and the fact that the author wasa little too close to her subject, and clearly felt so much guilt about Chang's death. But, for those who don't know...Iris Chang was the best-selling author of The Rape of Nanking, a journalistic account of the 1937 Japanese invasion of the ancient Chinese city o ...more
Bastian Greshake Tzovaras
After binging on The Rape of Nanking recently, I was fascinated by the life (and death) of Iris Chang. This book gives seems to give a really good summary of both, in terms of her life achievements, the problems she faced and the things she had to struggle with.

At the same time the book gives some background on the origin of The Rape of Nanking and how mental health is an especially severe problem in Asian communities.

Recommended for: People who have read something by Chang and want to know mo
Apr 11, 2009 rated it liked it
Kamen comes at this story from the standpoint of a jealous casual friend, which is an extremely strange place from which to narrate a biography. Chang wasn't perfect and it's alright for a biographer to illuminate those facets of their subject, but this reader could never get past the fact that Kamen seemed to take some satisfaction from highlighting Chang's shortcomings, especially her social awkwardness. This book would have been better as a long newspaper or magazine article. ...more
Oct 03, 2017 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 12, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: biography, china
I hope this is not the last word on Iris Chang.

In a precursive phone call Iris told her "friend", Paula Kamen (who found her exhausting), to tell everyone what she was like "before this happened." I didn't count, but there were probably more pages about "this" and its aftermath, than what she was like before it. Kamen's book does not fulfill her friend's request.

Kamen had, and probably still has, a wonderful opportunity to provide insight. Unfortunately she gives us more about how she reacted to
Jan 23, 2008 rated it it was ok
I'd read an article in Salon, by the same author, about Iris Chang's death and questions surrounding it. However, this book-long exploration of the same topic felt rushed and sloppy. There were actually places in the book where I thought, Where was the editor?? There was a self-consciousness to this book that did the woman and her story a disservice. For instance, the writer included whole chunks of interviews--whether or not all the material was relevant or interesting, and often without proces ...more
Lili Kim
Feb 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
I remember being completely moved by Iris Chang's "The Rape of Nanking," which I read pretty much around the time it first came out. This book was somewhat frustrating to read at times-for instance, would another type of person (e.g., a man be considered "too much" if he had Iris' characteristics?).

Notable lines:

“ . . . she was all things to all people. She represented: a working mother, a warrior for social justice, an Asian American, a voice for forgotten war victims, a suicide, a sufferer of
Aug 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-nonfiction
I am fairly picky about the audiobooks I listen to and the non-fiction books I read so I was quite surprised by how much I loved this. After listening to The Rape of Nanking, I felt compelled to read more on the subject. Upon my research, I found this book and was saddened to find out that Iris Chang took her own life in 2004. I was curious to learn more about Chang and her mental illness so I decided to listen to this book. I am not familiar with biographies, but I believe that the author did ...more
Jun 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Jessica McKendry, Kathryn McKendry, Jesse McKendry, Alyssa McKendry, Pamela Sampson
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
There are always parts of someone’s life that you don’t know and will never know regardless of how close you are. The author’s quest to find out more about her friend, Iris Chang and her tragic death shed some lights into the dark side that Chang faced during the course of her life. While the author’s tone was filled of guilt with her friend death, i couldn’t help but notice the jealousy that she harbored towards Chang’s extraordinary drive and success also! Chang probably felt the same thing an ...more
Sara C
Feb 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I identified with much of Iris’ life being an Asian American. The invalidating of my gnawing feelings and inner turmoil, and being told I should feel grateful to grow up in America when my parents grew up in less than perfect circumstances. The living up to the model minority and keeping the family name squeaky clean. I’m happy to have become self-aware with the help of God, but I know others in the Asian-American community are not as fortunate and are under so much unneeded pressure to the poin ...more
Apr 24, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: biography
Having read Iris Chang's book, "The Rape of Nanking," I was interested in learning more about her. This book, "Finding Iris Chang," was written by a friend and colleague of Iris's, who admired her and explored why such a talented person would take her own life. While I was interested in the details of Iris's life, I decided I had learned enough and stopped about three-fourths of the way through the book. ...more
Jan 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Part-eulogy, part-exploration into the depths of mental illness, part-memoir of the author's own personal grieving process after the loss of a friend and icon. Iris Chang was a brilliant mind who clearly meant so much to so many people. Hopefully her story shines a light on the stigma against mental illness within the world at large and more specifically within the Asian American community. ...more
Jun 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. I appreciated the author's insights into bipolar disorder and mental illness in the Asian community. ...more
Cario Lam
Nov 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great book on an author who found success very early and whose life ended much too soon. The author makes a good attempt at giving the readers a picture of a very complex person.
Kathleen Hagen
Finding Iris Chang: Friendship, Ambition, and the Loss of an Extraordinary Mind, by Paula Kamen, Narrated by Bernadette Dunn, Produced by Blackstone Audio, Downloaded from

Iris Chang in her short life wrote three books about Chinese history. Two of them involved issues for people from China as immigrants to America. The book for which she was best known, and which became a best seller, was The Rape of Nanking, detailing for the first time, the horrendous massacre over a two-month per
Nov 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: The ambitious, and anyone unaware of Iris Chang
This book is a journalist's biography of her fellow journalist friend. This isn't always a heartfelt read, and sometimes this book is hard to read because Biographer Paula Kamen tries to write about Iris Chang as a journalistic subject rather than as a friend. As any of us might learn about a friend, there's always much you just never know, maybe aren't meant to know, and in this case, there are some startling secrets and discoveries.

This is an incredibly well researched book (I don't even care
Jan 21, 2008 rated it liked it
This is an intimate and startling look into an activist's impressive, tragic life. I read Iris's book "The Rape of Nanking" when I was in college and remember feeling moved by her writing and shocked by the historical accounts of the Japanese occupation of Nanking during WW II. Even though I never read her other stuff I was saddened when I heard about her suicide. She was 36, successful, and had left behind a 2-year-old. It was strange. When this book came out, I was immediately intrigued. I was ...more
C.M. Mayo
Feb 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Iris Chang was the author of three books, including the blockbuster The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of WWII. Kamen, also an accomplished journalist and author of four books, was first Iris's rival at the University of Illinois Champagne-Urbana and then, for many years, an admiring and close friend. Kamen's is a book by a writer about a writer, or rather, the biography of a rich and evolving writerly friendship with a violent end, for Iris Chang was found shot to death in a car by th ...more
Feb 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bios-memoirs
This is a sad story of a remarkable person who have contributed so much to the cause of human rights and social justice.....
Iris Chang's mysterious suicide in 2004, at age thirty-six, didn’t seem to make any sense. Some even wondered if the controversial author of The Rape of Nanking had been murdered. Long-time friend Paula Kamen was among those left wondering what had gone so wrong. A literary investigation of an important writer's journey, Finding Iris Chang is a tribute to a lost heroine, a portrait of the real and vulnerable woman who inspired so many around the world.

We met Paula Kamen when she visited the Tatt
Jul 06, 2009 rated it liked it
Interesting investigation into the story behind Iris Chang's suicide at the age of 36. Chang, the author of The Rape of Nanking was a gifted young writer who often alienated her friends and colleagues with her naked ambition. Kamen looks at Chang's life and death through the lens of their friendship and Chang's mental illness. Late in her life, Chang was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and Kamen writes convincingly about the need for more research into the role culture and gender play in our ...more
Dec 17, 2007 rated it liked it
I actually listened to this as an audiobook rather than reading it and suspect that that fact impacted somewhat negatively on my opinion.

Iris Chang, the subject of this book, wrote "The Rape of Nanking", I book I read and found disturbing but important. I was therefore interested in hearing about her personal story and about how her disturbing research may have impacted her.

From that point of view, I found the book lived up to my expectations, but the author seemed to lift whole conversations (w
Dec 27, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book is a biography-cum-detective story by a writer attempting to discover how her friend, the famous Iris Chang, could possibly have committed suicide. While I found learning about Chang's life and ensuing activism fascinating, the inquiry into her death and particularly subsequent discussion of Chang's diagnosis of bipolar disorder was naive and unsatisfying.

I found some of the themes the author chose to cover interesting (the use of archives and the rewards of rigorous research, to name
Sep 10, 2008 rated it it was ok
This book was a disappointment. I felt like the author was too fixated on herself and the underlying guilt she felt about not really being there for her friend in the last years of her life. Reading between the lines, it appeared that some of Iris Chang's family and friends didn't want to contribute to the book, which made me think there was some backstory to that. And there were some odd holes in the storyline. How come no pictures of Iris? I also didn't care for the way the author summed up th ...more
I've always been fascinated by Iris Chang. When I read the Rape of Nanking, I was amazed that someone my age could write in this way. This book was very personal to her and you could read and feel the intensity about how she felt about what had happend. She was very angry. Like many others, I was so shocked when she committed suicide. I'm not sure how I feel about this book and how it is written but I want to know more about why she took her life when she was someone that had everything in the w ...more
David Marxer
Nov 08, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ms. Chang's death was so personally painful to me that it took me three attempts to get through this book, but now I'm glad I did. Although Chapters 1 and 8 were the hardest to get through because I'm still very angry with Ms. Chang's husband and family for not wanting to be the 'bad guys' and commit her a hospital---the author brings this up at the bottom of page 273---the rest of the book, especially the last chapters dealing with bipolar disorder and debunking a lot of conspirscy theories mad ...more
Feb 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoirs, psychology
I enjoyed this "psychological autopsy" of Iris Chang, a journalist who wrote a bestselling book about Japanese war crimes in Nanking, China during WW II and who later descended into mental illness and killed herself. The book is written by an old college friend of hers who struggles to make sense of her suicide by researching Chang's life and the events leading up to her death. As a mental health professional, I found this book very interesting. I also think it's a good example of how mental ill ...more
Dec 14, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: audio, 2014-reads
What at first irritated me with its author's self-involved concerns about how going to the "dark place" of exploring Iris Chang's life would affect her, and its intimations of conspiracy theory, and its unnecessary recaps of what Chang wrote in The Rape of Nanking (since anyone reading this has already read that), turned into a pretty respectable work of investigation of Chang's life and mental health (she was bipolar) and a methodical de-construction of the conspiracy theories about the Japanes ...more
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Rape of Nanking
  • Peony in Love
  • Red Azalea
  • The Last Empress (Empress Orchid, #2)
  • Pearl of China
  • The Joy Luck Club (Oxford Bookworms Library: Stage 6 Reader)
  • Saving Fish from Drowning
  • China Dolls
  • Music of Ghosts (Mary Crow, #5)
  • A Sudden Light
  • Driving Miss Norma: One Family's Journey Saying "Yes" to Living
  • A Brilliant Death
  • The Paris Library
  • How Much of These Hills Is Gold
  • Glory Over Everything: Beyond The Kitchen House
  • Interior Chinatown
  • The Liar's Dictionary
  • The Aviator's Wife
See similar books…

Related Articles

  Luvvie Ajayi Jones—author, cultural critic, digital entrepreneur—might be best described as a professional truthteller. Her crazily popular...
15 likes · 0 comments