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Nanjing: The Burning City

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  434 ratings  ·  90 reviews
After the bombs fell and shook the walls of Nanjing, the Imperial Japanese Army entered and seized the Chinese capital. Through the dust of the demolished buildings, screams echo off the rubble. Two abandoned Chinese soldiers are trapped and desperately outnumbered inside the walled city. What they'll encounter will haunt them. But in the face of horror, they'll learn that ...more
Hardcover, 216 pages
Published September 1st 2015 by Dark Horse Originals
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Ethan Young It might have some harsh content for middle schoolers, but so long as the kids are given fair warning ahead of time, it might be suitable for them. Th…moreIt might have some harsh content for middle schoolers, but so long as the kids are given fair warning ahead of time, it might be suitable for them. There is no overt graphic violence, but there some images/text allude to it.(less)

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 ·  434 ratings  ·  90 reviews

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Dave Schaafsma
Nov 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Of course there is now an abundance of historical studies of the assault on Nanking in the late thirties. Iris Chang's The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II (1997) is a great example, though controversial, and in my opinion justly celebrated. There are now many studies, some of them fictional, such as Ha Jin's work. This graphic novel looks like it may be written for younger readers, as it does not depict with any shocking detail the atrocities, but focuses on two survivor ...more
Dean Simons
Aug 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
Full disclosure, I know a fair bit about modern Chinese history prior to reading this book. I've read about what happened during WW2, I've visited the memorial in Nanjing. My knowledge of the Nanjing massacre (often called "The Rape of Nanking") is more than the average reader of this book.

As a piece this is a very well written and well crafted work. The characters feel human, the clash of old and new world are well presented in the dialogue. There are moments of moral ambiguity, as is to be exp
Nov 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this historical comic. Ethan Young did a great job with the story and the art. It felt accurate to what I have read. It was fresh because I had not read any accounts from Chinese soldiers in Nanjing. He didn't have a lot of time for character development as it was a rather brief story, but I felt so much for the characters. Young really captured the fact that not all of the Japanese soldiers in Nanjing were bad, and he also really captured how brutal war is.

Review before reading
Aug 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: war, graphic-novels, books
I admit, when I picked this up, I knew a little bit about the story of the rape of Nanjing, but that was about as far as it goes. This, as most good war stories, is told from the view of a soldier in the conflict, a Chinese officer.

And of course, the way war is, this does not have a happy ending. Why should it? Well, most of the books I have that are set in war have some glimmer of hope in them, that the main characters will survive, and live another day. But I'm sure the point of this book is
Stewart Tame
Jan 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
A powerful and moving war story. Except for the length, this could almost be a forgotten story from Frontline Combat or somewhere similar. Ethan Young's artwork recalls Kubert and Severin and Davis, while maintaining its own identity. This could easily have been a polemic, blood and guts and rape thrown in the reader's face. But taking a more tasteful approach gives the story more power. The worst images occur off-panel, in the mind of the reader, and are the stronger and more memorable for it. ...more
Elizabeth A
May 18, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: graphix, 2016
This graphic novel tells the tale of two Chinese soldiers trapped in Nanjng after the bombing and invasion of Japanese troops.

War is hell, atrocities are committed by all sides, and everyone suffers. I liked the art in this book, and while I liked the creative way the author shows the destruction of the city and its people, there was not much new here for me. I wonder if this was targeted at a young adult audience who might have not been exposed to this story before. If that is the case, it is
Sep 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars - Extraordinarily powerful story of a handful of people during the Nanjing massacre. Characterization is excellent and the storytelling contains a level of suspense that's effective without ever feeling cheap or manipulated. There's one dialogue exchange that goes on a little too long and runs the risk of pontificating, but that's really a minor quibble. I hope this gets a large readership. ...more
Derek Royal
Sep 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Ethan Young's story of the seizure of Nanjing is tightly woven and psychologically focused. He takes a relatively brief period of story time and pours all of his energies into that frame. A compelling story with even more impressive art. We reviewed this book on a recent episode of The Comics Alternative: ...more
Fantastic art-especially the inking. powerful contrasts and effective line work. The story is harrowing and upsetting and makes an impact without being too grotesque (which would be easy for the subject matter). Apparently this is a topic we all need to learn more about.
Sep 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Through outstanding artwork, you get sucked into this little bit of time with these characters. Immediately connecting with them, and deeply feeling the story to it's conclusion. The fact that it's based on a real event adds so much emotion to the story.

Ethan has created something that allows us to see the horrors of war, and not forget the humanity that has to go through it.
An historical fiction graphic novel about Nanjing. I heard the author speak earlier in the year and I've been looking toward reading it ever since. Although, I will say that I didn't find it nearly as adult as the author led me to believe. There are some mature themes, but it's really not something that younger people couldn't handle (and would probably get a lot out of it too). ...more
Mr. Twinkie
Jan 20, 2018 rated it liked it
It is an okay read but it doesn't really differ from anything I have seen before. Neither does it go in any depth into the special case of the Nanjing Massacre. Often I wondered whether this specific event was the main focus of the story or whether the book was just a general statement about war. It is readable but nothing special. ...more
Aug 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
Moving and gripping tale of two soldiers quest to survive Nanking after the KMT abandon it to the Japanese.
Elle Kay
Oct 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
A haunting tale of evasion and survival set amongst the Nanjing Massacre. This one was well written, beautifully illustrated, and something that will stay with me for a very long time.
Ming Wei
Excellent graphic novel
Alex E
Aug 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a chapter in history that I am not aware of, so to me, this was really fascinating and harrowing.

It's easy to look over the fact that before WWII started, there were conflicts all over the world that were already either brewing, or in full swing. The war between Japan and China ultimately got absorbed into WWII, so many of the details regarding this particular conflict are either quickly summarized in history books, or unfortunately completely glossed over. This book puts is directly in
Rogues Portal
Jun 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Nanjing: The Burning City
Writer & Artist: Ethan Young
Publisher: Dark Horse
A review by Amelia Wellman

I love history. World War II has been a favourite topic of mine since listening to my grandfather’s stories about his time in the military as a kid. There came a point when I believed I had learned everything I could about World War II. Then I read a book in high school (that remains to this day my favourite book) called The Devil of Nanking that covered a part of the war I’d never heard about: Th
Jan 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: x2020, digital
(3,6 of 5 for nice war report from infamous Nanjing massacre)
The well-known atrocities of wars are a bit overplayed so many authors seek for some other terrible but less known (or better forgotten) ones. So even if the principle is similar, we can learn something new. I was aware of Nanjing, but I do not know many details or circumstances and even fewer stories from that time. So I looked forward to this comics book. We follow abandoned Chinese soldiers, one is a young boy, the other is an old v
Mark Allard-Will
Take the somewhat hidden history of Japanese war crimes committed in mainland China and blend it with fictional characters designed to guide us through the sense of despair, loss and isolation from the rest of China, and the World, that the residents of Nanjing must've felt during the invasion and occupational events of The Nanjing Massacre (commonly referred to as The Rape of Nanjing) and you have the Graphic Novel, Nanjing: The Burning City.

To create a Graphic Novel about Japanese war atrocit
World Literature Today
"Most Americans know of the East Asian side of World War II only as a conflict between Japan and the US. Ethan Young’s graphic novel sets out to raise our awareness of this horrifically violent period of war. The son of Chinese immigrants to the United States, Young says in an essay with Paste magazine that he wanted Nanjing to be 'more than a footnote.' Young claims his point is to make this historical moment visible, and he does. [A]s readers, we become immersed in the impossible ethics of war ...more
Mar 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Two Chinese soldiers abandoned and cut off behind the Japanese lines in the occupied city of Nanjing desperately try to escape the city., and survive the worst carnage of the Sino-Japanese War.

While the Nanjing Massacre was something I had read about in historical accounts, this graphic novel very effectively tells a small story within the greater context of the incident. The fear and desperation of the people trapped in the city comes through clearly, as does their anger and hatred for their o
Jan 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
I liked this brief glimpse into the atrocities of what occurred at Nanjing. I appreciated it’s imagery and the tug and pull play of giving you little bits of both sides. I prefer that level of truth showing the bare teeth of war as nothing clean cut. No one side is the hero or the villain. War is War an ugly and complicated chaos. Although brief and only skimming the surface it was a good introductory point for this tragedy & I will definitely be reading more on it in the future. Simple and well ...more
Nov 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people wanting to learn more about world history and wars
Recommended to Melle by: Publishers Weekly
Wow. Sadly, I know very little of world history, especially of the Second Sino-Japanese War. Atrocities were committed by the occupying Japanese forces in the city of Nanjing. The graphic novel does an excellent job of humanizing both sides while excusing none of the violence and provides an excellent start into understanding a bit more about this significant part of world history. Like the graphic novel adaptation of War Brothers, brutal, unflinching, and necessary.
Mar 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
This graphic novel does a great job of giving human faces to soldiers from both China and Japan during the seizure and massacre of Nanjing. The soldiers portrayed use strong language, but nothing in the book is gratuitous. The characters are carefully drawn, and Young's use of panels to deliver close ups of their faces is well-done. In fact, this technique delivers the emotional impact of the story. If anyone is interested in learning about this atrocity, this book would set a nice context. ...more
This is an emotionally tough read. It pulls no punches about the horror of war and the violence committed against soldiers and civilians. In particular, the sexual violence toward women is very difficult to read. However, despite that, it's an important glimpse into a part of the conflicts that eventually became WW2 that is not often explored. Well worth reading. ...more
Nov 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
A beautifully illustrated portrait of a horrible event in history. The focus on our two protagonists made it faced paced and even more hard-hitting had it been an overarching tale of the entire city.
Dec 29, 2015 rated it liked it
A beautifully drawn historical fiction comic following two Chinese soldiers as they try to escape the rape of Nanking. I would highly recommend this book for fans of history or comic books.
Robin Herrera
Beautiful sequential storytelling.
Marsha Altman
Oct 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: china, comics, history
Fantastic, moving book about the battle of Nanjing, more commonly known (except to the Japanese) as the Rape of Nanking. The author manages to evoke pity but also give life to the Japanese soldiers.
This graphic novel is brutal in all the ways that graphic novels can assault your senses with the truth and make any reader understand the gravity of the situation. The choice to keep it black and white and the way that it's paced with pages of no talking (and there isn't a narrative) keeps it stark and startling as we follow the fight between the Chinese and Japanese and the hardship the soldiers experienced, the pain of the laypeople caught up in this war, and specifically the dead and raped a ...more
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Ethan Young was born Yi Feng Huang, to Chinese immigrant parents in NYC. Young is an Eisner-nominated cartoonist, best known for NANJING: The Burning City, winner of the 2016 Reuben Award for Best Graphic Novel. His other works include The Battles of Bridget Lee, Ronin Island, Comic Book Tattoo, and Life Between Panels. In addition to comic book work, Young is also a prolific freelance illustrator ...more

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