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Rape Of Nanking Paperback – 26 Jan 2012

4.4 out of 5 stars 146 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; First Trade Paper Edition edition (26 Jan. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465068367
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465068364
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.3 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (146 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 97,128 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

Amazon Review

Some books you read for pleasure; others you read because they are too important to be ignored. Iris Chang's The Rape of Nanking falls firmly into the second category. What most people in the West know about the Sino-Japanese war can usually be scribbled on the back of a postcard. It was a long way away, had nothing to do with us and besides the Second World War was a much bigger deal. This parochialism and chauvinism has obliterated one of the most obscene chapters from the already overflowing pages of man's inhumanity to man in the 20th century.

After fierce fighting in Shanghai, the Japanese occupied the old Chinese imperial city of Nanking on 13 December 1937. Over the next six weeks, the Japanese massacred more than 300,000 Chinese and raped more than 80,000 women. But these bare figures don't begin to describe the atrocities. The Japanese indulged in execution contests to see who could behead the most civilians in the shortest time, they burned their victims, they buried them alive, they set dogs on them. No form of mutilation and torture was too extreme or bizarre and no one escaped. Men, women, children and babies were all butchered.

What makes all this even more unbelievable is that there was no reason for this other than sadism. The Japanese army ran riot and indulged its blood lust; moreover it didn't even attempt to conceal what it was doing from eyewitnesses. The killings and the rapes all took place in public. So how come we all know so little about it? The answers, as ever, are part coincidence and part Realpolitik. The onset of the Second World War did overshadow events in China and the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki did help to cast the Japanese as victims, rather than aggressors, in some people's eyes in the post-war period. And in the aftermath of the war, everyone had a vested interest in keeping their mouth shut. Japan turned from enemy of the US to ally--as one of the strongest bastions of capitalism in a Far East they feared was becoming progressively more communist. Moreover, the People's Republic of China conspired to play down Nanking as it sought to gain an economic foothold in the world and didn't dare to alienate the West in the process.

So it is to Iris Chang's credit that she has dragged Nanking back into our collective consciousness. She doesn't sensationalise, neither does she spare us any of the details. She describes events from the point of view of the Japanese, the Chinese and the independent Westerners living in Nanking, but even so she fails to come up with a convincing explanation for the scale of the atrocities. --John Crace --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

Chicago Tribune "A powerful new work of history and moral inquiry. Chang takes great care to establish an accurate accounting of the dimensions of the violence." Nien Cheng, author of Life and Death in Shanghai "Meticulously researched ... A gripping account that holds the reader's attention from beginning to end." Beatrice S. Bartlett, professor of history, Yale University "Iris Chang's research on the Nanking holocaust yields a new and expanded telling of this World War II atrocity and reflects thorough research. The book is excellent; its story deserves to be heard." Frederic Wakeman, director of the Institute of East Asian Studies, University of California, Berkeley "Heartbreaking... An utterly compelling book. The descriptions of the atrocities raise fundamental questions not only about imperial Japanese militarism but the psychology of the torturers, rapists, and murderers." George F. Will, syndicated columnist "Something beautiful, an act of justice, is occurring in America today concerning something ugly that happened long ago... Because of Chang's book, the second rape of Nanking is ending." Orville Schell, The New York Times Book Review "In her important new book ... Iris Chang, whose own grandparents were survivors, recounts the grisly massacre with understandable outrage." Ross Terrill, author of Mao, China in Our Time, and Madame Mao "Anyone interested in the relation between war, self-righteousness, and the human spirit will find The Rape of Nanking of fundamental importance. It is scholarly, an exciting investigation, and a work of passion. In places it is almost unbearable to read, but it should be read--only if the past is understood can the future be navigated."

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
In a century with little shortage of barbaric acts the rape on Nanking is distinguished by its savagery. Iris Chang's admirable book seeks to rescue the historical record from Japanese obfuscation and our own collective amnesia by documenting the assault of 1937/38, in which an estimated 300,000 Chinese lost their lives, in all its stomach churning horror.

The book is not simply a catalogue of atrocities, although the baroque tortures visited on the people of Nanking are not spared the reader. It seeks to understand the socio-cultural factors which may have led to the Japanes commiting such atrocities. It also catalogues the rare acts of heroism such as that of John Rabe, a Nazi official living in the city who rescued thousands of people from rape and murder.

Importantly, Chang highlights that through mendacious scholarship, official denial of cultural figures and academics and successive governements, the Japnese have not in any way satisfactorily came to terms with the atrocities commited in their war against the Chinese, instead seemingly absolving themselves of any blame for historic wrongs.

As I write the Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe has reportedly paid tribute, at a buddhist shrine, to 1000 convicted Japanese war criminals ( "martyrs"), quoted a saying "I humbly express my deepest sympathy for the martyrs who sacrificed their souls to become the foundation of peace and prosperity in Japan today". I can think of no better illustration of why this book continues to be necessary
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Format: Hardcover
This is a very important, ground breaking history book, written by a formidably brave young woman, who ultimately paid the highest price for daring to research and describe one of the most monstrous events in whole human history. Below, a short description of basic facts about this atrocity, followed by my impressions about the book and also about the author.

1. The Rape of Nanking - basic facts

After Japanese Imperial Army captured Chinese capital Nanking, its generals ordered the soldiers to murder first all the Chinese POWs and later also as much of civilian population as it was possible. It is not exactly clear what was the purpose of this quasi-genocide, but the result was a massacre on a scale rarely reached, even in the exceptionally murderous XX century. There is today a large consensus amongst historians worldwide that from 13 December 1937 to mi-January 1938, no less than 300 000 (three hundred thousand) Chinese POWs and civilians (including women and children) were murdered.

That alone would be enough to make this atrocity one of the worst crimes against humanity in all history - but the Japanese didn't satisfy themselves with simply butchering those people. A great lot of victims, especially women, children and elder people, were savagely tortured, sometimes for many hours, before being killed. Virtually all female victims, from little girls to grandmothers, were raped (and frequently gang raped) before being murdered. And even that was not cruel enough for the perpetrators, who forced their victims to perform most abject sadistic "games" (including fathers obliged to rape their daughters) before killing them - and sometimes, unbelievable but true, went as far as eating body parts of people they murdered!
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By Thespionic TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 28 Oct. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Most countries have historical skeletons in the cupboard and this book does not come across to me as being anti-Japanese. It simply documents a very dark part of their past which quite rightly they should have by now acknowledged. They will never have honour until they do?
This was a period when their imperial army was one of the most barbaric, cruel and unfeeling of all armies in the world. They were renowned for their awful treatment of POW's - the `Burma Railway' springs readily to mind, so Nanking was not a blip?
However, The British Empire, the Americans, even some Red Indian tribes have done some pretty horrendous things in their history and of course the Chinese, Russians & Germans atrocities are also well documented. History is littered with despots and their atrocities - they are with us even today. It's never nice to read but they do need to be exposed.
The book for me is well written; the story is well-structured and never less than thoroughly interesting from start to finish. Even taking the six weeks of massacre out of the equation there are plenty of sobering thoughts to be gleaned from this book.
To those who feel this book is less than it could have been, or that the real truth has not been told, I can only say that 50 pages of acknowledgements is some proof of the effort made to get the story told. If hard evidence (corpses), newsreel (both in Japan & Internationally), photographic evidence, personal accounts, diaries, Japanese admissions, survivor testaments and finally a guilty verdict from the war crimes commission are not enough to persuade, then frankly, `denial' is the only answer to the counter view of what most clearly see and have to believe occurred.
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Format: Paperback
This is a very important, ground breaking history book, written by a formidably brave young woman, who ultimately paid the highest price for daring to research and describe one of the most monstrous events in whole human history. Below, a short description of basic facts about this atrocity, followed by my impressions about the book and also about the author.

1. The Rape of Nanking - basic facts

After Japanese Imperial Army captured Chinese capital Nanking, its generals ordered the soldiers to murder first all the Chinese POWs and later also as much of civilian population as it was possible. It is not exactly clear what was the purpose of this quasi-genocide, but the result was a massacre of a scale rarely reached, even in the exceptionally murderous XX century. There is today a large consensus amongst historians worldwide that from 13 December 1937 to mi-January 1938, no less than 300 000 (three hundred thousand) Chinese POWs and civilians (including women and children) were murdered.

That alone would be enough to make this atrocity one of the worst crimes against humanity in all history - but the Japanese didn't satisfy themselves with simply butchering those people. A great lot of victims, especially women, children and elder people, were savagely tortured, sometimes for many hours, before being killed. Virtually all female victims, from little girls to grandmothers, were raped (and frequently gang raped) before being murdered. And even that was not cruel enough for the perpetrators, who forced their victims to perform most abject sadistic "games" (including fathers obliged to rape their daughters) before killing them - and sometimes, unbelievable but true, went as far as eating body parts of people they murdered!
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