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Rape Of Nanking [Paperback]

Iris Chang
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (131 customer reviews)
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Book Description

26 Jan 2012
In December 1937, the Japanese army swept into the ancient city of Nanking. Within weeks, more than 300,000 Chinese civilians and soldiers 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 the definitive history of this horrifying episode.

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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: 20.6 x 13.7 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (131 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 63,679 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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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.


"The first comprehensive examination of the destruction of this Chinese imperial city...Ms. Chang, whose grandparents narrowly escaped the carnage, has skillfully excavated from oblivion the terrible events that took place." --The Wall Street Journal"A powerful new work of history and moral inquiry. Chang takes great care to establish an accurate accounting of the dimensions of the violence." --Chicago Tribune"Chang reminds us that however blinding the atrocities in Nanking may be, they are not forgettable--at least not without peril to civilization itself." --The Detroit News"A story that Chang recovers with raw important step towards recognition of this tragedy." --San Francisco Bay Guardian --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
46 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A shocking and necessary book. 9 Jan 2006
By M. S. Bowden VINE VOICE
With the publication of this book, we have been given a chance to learn about one of the most gruesome episodes of the twentieth century. In the space of seven weeks from December 1937, the Japanese Imperial Army raped, killed, and tortured hundreds of thousands of prisoners of war and innocent civilians in Nanking (present-day Nanjing). Iris Chang details and analyses this event with passion, intelligence, style, and a sense of duty to the forgotten victims of Japanese barbarism.
The book is organised into three main sections; the first looks at source material of the Rape as it happened from Japanese, Chinese and Western perspectives. The second section is an analysis of such things as how the Rape was reported on at the time, how the Japanese who perpetrated these crimes were, or in some cases were not, punished, and what became of the survivors of the Rape. The third and final section looks at historiography; the ways in which 'history' is made. Chang also attempts to ascertain why a shocking level of selective amnesia seems to surround the Rape, in both Japan and the West. This reduction of the Rape to a mere footnote in most history books dealing with World War Two is what Chang calls 'a second Rape'.
'The Rape of Nanking' is not a light book, and it contains descriptions and pictures of acts so brutal and sordid that it is impossible not to be shocked. But rather than merely describe the events which took place, Chang also sets out clear and convincing arguments about why they took place and in this way she also offers insights into human nature.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Needed to be Exposed? 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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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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This is a deeply disturbing book to read. Chang writes in a highly charged prose, where her emotions and deep resentment often take precedence over her factual research. This is a pity. Her effort is invaluable, she has exposed an Asian holocaust to the world. But her credibility is tarnished by her exaggerations. Not that these exaggerations change much in terms of the basic message she is trying to convey: there was a horrendous rape of Nanjing, the Japanese should acknowledge it and the world should know about it. I was flabbergasted when visiting the Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo: there, in the war museum, a panel lets visitors know that in Nanjing the Japanese authorities did not perpetrate any massacre, only some Chinese soldiers who hid under civilian clothes were dealt with severely... Amazing that democratic Japan would still have this nonsense up in one of their most famous museums in 2011.

Nonetheless, Chang's case would have been stronger had she avoided hyping hard facts which are so stark and crude they did not need any hyping. In any case, this is a must read for anyone interested in the Japanese campaign in China in the 1930s.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Good service and price
Published 10 days ago by James Punton
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book written by a valiant young woman about an ABOMINATION...
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... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Maciej
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a story more a point of view
The author puts forward her views on this action with force. She makes the point that the US either played down or ignored this action for its own ends and continues to do so to... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Roddy Mcneil
5.0 out of 5 stars I wish I had read this years ago
When I lived in Japan. My friends and colleagues knew nothing of the war. They should. Thank you Iris Chang
Published 6 months ago by Bews
5.0 out of 5 stars The Rape of Manking - history book
A book all should read. Had no idea about this brutality in history. Quite difficult to put down. Very readable.
Published 6 months ago by Trug
5.0 out of 5 stars Rape of Nanking
I felt this book needed to be written and it was heartfelt in its interpretation of this atrocity and all the other atrocities Ups has penetrated. Read more
Published 7 months ago by LyndaGripton
4.0 out of 5 stars Informative, horriffic
An indictment of a generation of a nation and its society. It was brief and repetitive but highlighted an outrage
Published 7 months ago by Martin Hale
5.0 out of 5 stars A good read .
A very interesting book and arrived in fair condition. It was unbelievable what the Jap,s had been doing and some had got off with it.
Published 8 months ago by uel
4.0 out of 5 stars Well-written and interesting
A very well written and informative book about the Japan's occupation of China during WWII.

PROS: extremely interesting, generally well-written, references, photos... Read more
Published 14 months ago by CK
2.0 out of 5 stars clearly written by a journalist
much as i found the content of the book fascinating if disturbing i felt that it was clear from the beginning that the writer was in fact a journalist by trade not a historian. Read more
Published 23 months ago by chiiiiii
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