Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II” as Want to Read:
The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  26,470 ratings  ·  1,991 reviews
In December 1937, the Japanese army swept into the ancient city of Nanking. Within weeks, more than 300,000 Chinese civilians were systematically raped, tortured, and murdered?a death toll exceeding that of the atomic blasts of Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined. Using extensive interviews with survivors and newly discovered documents, Iris Chang has written what will surely
Paperback, 290 pages
Published October 28th 2004 by Penguin Books Ltd (first published October 14th 1997)
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 The Rape of Nanking, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Kristina Rose Will this book be easy reading? No. Is this book worth reading? Absolutely. The subject matter is brutal; expect yourself to feel disgusted, angry and…moreWill this book be easy reading? No. Is this book worth reading? Absolutely. The subject matter is brutal; expect yourself to feel disgusted, angry and sad. But I think reading about these sort of atrocities as a young person will give you a well rounded and honest view of the world. It is not a difficult read in terms of writing style and I should think a 9th grader (I'm guessing 14-15 years old?) will cope with it just fine. Throw any preconceptions out the window and just read it. Iris Chang's voice deserves to be heard and you deserve to hear it.(less)
Laura She changed the subject between paragraphs... while Frank xing's grandmother gave his father bracelets etc and stayed behind, the author's grandparent…moreShe changed the subject between paragraphs... while Frank xing's grandmother gave his father bracelets etc and stayed behind, the author's grandparents barely escaped. The author's grandmother was pregnant at the time and also had a one year old infant. The author states the infant was her aunt today. I'm reading an updated version, it may have not been clear in earlier editions? (less)
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.12  · 
Rating details
 ·  26,470 ratings  ·  1,991 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II
Apr 08, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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
Amalia Gavea
* Any comments regarding politics will be dealt with. Flagged, blocked, accompanied by one of my endlessly innovative insults. Take your political opinions elsewhere, the few of you who think this is bloody Facebook. I'm not interested.

”Almost all people have this potential for evil, which would be unleashed only under certain dangerous social circumstances.”

A beloved European friend, who’s currently living in Changzhou, has been pestering me to read this book for months. I was unwilling. Of
Jun 14, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I rated this book, but how can one rate an account of atrocities ..... For me, the rating is just a symbol of how important such books are... I had read a review by a Friend and immediately decided to get a copy and make the name Nanking mean something to me as I had never read any books on this massacre.
The book is harrowing, terrifying and most upsetting, and I would recommend it only to those readers who are prepared for most graphic descriptions.
Ms Chang provides us with an insight into th
Jul 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Iris Chang received hate mail, death threats and academic scorn following her publication of The Rape of Nanking in 1997. Chang had spent considerable time and energy researching the book, hoping that her work could bring attention to a horrific time that seemed to somehow have been lost in the history books – a winter and spring of unimaginable horror in 1937 and 1938 following the Japanese capture and occupation of the Chinese city of Nanking.

“As the Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel warned years ago
Feb 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: war
By far the most painful book I have ever read and yet a book that should be READ, passed on, READ, passed on, READ and passed on and ON so that new generations of people learn what those forever silent can't relate to their loved ones because they themselves have been Massacred

I came across this book having just finished White Chrysanthemum a historical fiction account of The Comfort Women and wanting to read more on this time in history I found this book.
The Nanking Massacre was an episode of
Mar 25, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A dark rabbit-hole into the abyss, this is. Or, as Jaidee says “we suck as a species!”
In December 1937 Japanese troops advanced from Shanghai to Nanjing. All of the sickeningly familiar war crime atrocities occurred. It's like there's a template or step-by-step guide that gets followed.

Chang’s research found the diary of John Rabe which provides an improbable ray of hope in all the atrocious horror.

The Nazi Who Saved Nanking
Perhaps the most fascinating character to emerge from the history of th
Diane S ☔
Jan 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nfr-2020
Two questions. One: Why were we never taught this in school along with the Holocaust and the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Second: How do I get the horror of which this book is so full, out of my head? That other countries, including my own, knew exactly what was going on, as filmstrip was smuggled out of the countries, as well as first hand accounts by reporters, did nothing about what was happening in China. Makes me so angry. Bet if oil was involved, we would have been there in a flash.

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
Is #JeSuisCharlie still trending on Twitter? Or, rather, is it still fashionable to bleat and moan about "freedom of speech" without mention of the First Amendment Zones in Ferguson, the labeling of protesters as looters and militants by mass media, this particular gem of a post, and so many other violations of the right to speak that aren't saturated enough with European imperialism to merit the world's attention? Just look how the Boko Haram massacre of thousands was received by a world in mou ...more
Sidharth Vardhan
Okay, I waited for the holiday season to be over before I put this review. The review contains information of gruesome violence and depressing images. If you want to stay in good mood, don't read it. I don't think it will change anything.
(view spoiler)
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 o
Jul 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
The people killed by the Japanese were at least 300,000 may have been twice that. The author has passed on, but there is a recorded CSPAN interview of her talking about her book. See
Feb 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Rape of Nanking is mainly discussing TWO injustice set of actions by Japanese officials to Nanking population (including some foreigners. This book discuss some Westerners that saved many lives, and of course regarding Nanking massacre it is unavoidable to mention International Committee for the Nanking Safety Zone). The FIRST injustice is the massacre itself at late 1937-early 1938. If you don't aware about the incident, this book is an eye-opening. And you don't have to stop with this book in ...more
Jill Hutchinson
When we think of WWII and the atrocities that occurred, the genocide of the European Jewish population immediately comes to mind, but as the sub-title of this book indicates, there is a forgotten holocaust that has received little to no attention. Known as the Rape of Nanking, the civilian death toll (300,00 is the estimated number) exceeded that in some European countries during the entire war. Why have these horrors been basically overlooked in the history of WWII? The author divides the book ...more
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
Aug 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Michael by: Chrissie
This is a well-presented account of the systematic slaughter of Chinese civilians and prisoners by Japanese soldiers in 1937 and a thoughtful journalistic probing of its causes and reasons for its minimalization in the broad cultural mindset. It is painful to pursue such dark chapters in human history as a reader. Maybe it’s healthy to turn away from the details, like not looking closely if you witness a car wreck. Or to objectify such depradations, wall them off a bit as aberrations of war or a ...more
I am by no means an expert on WWII or history in general. I find it interesting and fascinating, and am interested in WWII stories more than many other eras, simply because it was just such an active point in our (relatively) recent history, and there was just so much horrific shit going on. But despite my interest in this era, I'd never even heard of this little corner of depravity and horror. Never heard of the Nanking Massacre in school, never stumbled across it in any form during my three de ...more
The Rape of Nanking is an important work of historical non-fiction written by Iris Chang. This book was instrumental in bringing greater attention in the Western world to Japanese atrocities during WWII. Chang notes the Rape of Nanking and other war time atrocities committed by the Japanese were not (at the time of writing) acknowledged widely in Japanese society, and still to this day are denied by Nationalist politicians in Japan, or dampened by apologists.

Chang's book details the Nanking (Nan
Mark Porton
Feb 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, history
The Rape of Nanking by Iris Chang is a shocking book, containing details of the most horrific atrocities imaginable, committed by the Japanese Army during a short period in 1937-38 after they captured the Chinese capital - Nanking.

Around 300,000 people were murdered in some of the most terrible ways, tortured and raped. The descriptions of these acts decided belief. The city was also destroyed leaving those left behind to rebuild their tattered lives in absolute poverty living with those terrib
Elyse  Walters
Jan 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I just read a powerful review by, Diane....and realized I never wrote a review on this book but if you don’t know the history about this story it’s definitely worth reading.
There is also a movie.

I actually saw the documentary with the author and family members before I ever read the book. It was a special one day screening with over 1000 people in the room. I was only one of a few caucasians in the room.

The history is mind boggling and leaves people with the question why was this history neve
Rebecca McNutt
Brutally shocking and disturbing, The Rape of Nanking is one of few books to accurately describe a horrific event of the past which many westerners don't know about. It's a very sad and terrifying story, but definitely worth it.
Just try to picture the most horrid, awful, and 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 ...more
Cassio Queiros
May 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
“You are left with a feeling of rage, because unlike other horrors, there is little mention of this in history books and the Japanese themselves have never asked for forgiveness or even acknowledge what they did.” (BEVERLY - Goodreads)

I agree whole-heartely with you, Beverly.

This is a first-rate book, and without doubt the best account of that sad, disgusting and tragic episode.

Last but not least, this book reminds me a brief dialogue from the movie “Runaway Train” (1985 – directed by Andrey Kon
Richard Derus
May 10, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book made me feel ashamed to be human.
Aug 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Perhaps when we were raping her, we looked a her as a woman, Azuma wrote, but when we killed her, we just thought of her as something like a pig." (50)

"I remember being driven in a truck along a path that had been cleared through piles of thousands and thousands of slaughtered bodies. Wild dogs were gnawing at the dead flesh as we stopped and pulled a group of Chinese prisoners out of the back. Then the Japanese officer proposed a test of my courage. He unsheathed his sword, spat on it, and wit
Sep 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Review originally posted on A Skeptical Reader.

I’ve attempted to review this book several times over the past few months since I read it in September, 2017 but I am unable to do it justice. How do you talk about such cases of mass rape where all hope was abandoned? Where the people who say they stand for democracy have continued to look away? And where the victims continue to be ignored and shamed for the violence committed against them? I don’t know how to rightly talk about any of these things
Jan 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-history
Iris Chang’s passionate account of the 1937 Nanking Massacre of 300,000 innocent people sends shivers up the spine. As someone who has read far too many histories of murder, rape and torture, I was still deeply affected by Chang’s descriptions of extreme cruelty and the total savagery of the perpetrators. I’ll avoid the details but suffice it to say this book takes a strong stomach to read as it does to look at the included pictures. So why should it be read? Chang’s reason is so the massacre an ...more
BAM The Bibliomaniac
This was devastating, absolutely tragic. What the Chinese and POWs went through during WWII by the hands of the Japanese is worse than the Nazi regime terror. I can't talk about this.
Mar 15, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Stalingrad: The Fateful Siege, 1942–1943
  • Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland
  • Unit 731 Testimony: Japan's Wartime Human Experimentation Program
  • Unit 731: The Forgotten Asian Auschwitz
  • The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany
  • The Good Man of Nanking: The Diaries of John Rabe
  • Hiroshima
  • The Road to Wigan Pier
  • Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan
  • The War Below: The Story of Three Submarines That Battled Japan
  • The Battle of Kursk
  • The Gulag Archipelago 1918–1956 (Abridged)
  • The Woman Who Could Not Forget: Iris Chang Before and Beyond The Rape of Nanking: A Memoir
  • Gulag: A History
  • The Knights of Bushido: A Short History of Japanese War Crimes
  • The Rising Sun: The Decline & Fall of the Japanese Empire, 1936-45
  • Light-Horse Harry Lee: The Rise and Fall of a Revolutionary Hero - The Tragic Life of Robert E. Lee's Father
  • A Bridge Too Far
See similar books…
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

News & Interviews

Need another excuse to treat yourself to a new book this week? We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our...
18 likes · 12 comments
“As the Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel warned years ago, to forget a holocaust is to kill twice.” 128 likes
“Almost all people have this potential for evil, which would be unleashed only under certain dangerous social circumstances.” 70 likes
More quotes…