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In December 1937, in what was then the capital of China, one of the most brutal massacres in the long annals of wartime barbarity occurred. The Japanese army swept into the ancient city of Nanking (Nanjing) and within weeks not only looted and burned the defenseless city but systematically raped, tortured, and murdered more than 300,000 Chinese civilians. Amazingly, the story of this atrocityone of the worst in world historycontinues to be denied by the Japanese government.Based on extensive interviews with survivors and newly discovered documents in four different languages (many never before published), Iris Chang, whose own grandparents barely escaped the massacre, has written what will surely be the definitive, English-language history of this horrifying episodeone that the Japanese have tried for years to erase from public consciousness.The Rape of Nanking tells the story from three perspectives: that of the Japanese soldiers who performed it; of the Chinese civilians who endured it; and finally of a group of Europeans and Americans who refused to abandon the city and were able to create a safety zone that saved almost 300,000 Chinese. It was Chang who discovered the diaries of the German leader of this rescue effort, John Rabe, whom she calls the Oskar Schindler of China.” A loyal supporter of Adolf Hitler but far from the terror planned in his Nazi-controlled homeland, he worked tirelessly to save the innocent from slaughter.But this book does more than just narrate details of an orgy of violence; it attempts to analyze the degree to which the Japanese imperial government and its militaristic culture fostered in the Japanese soldier a total disregard for human life.Finally, it tells one more shocking story: Despite the fact that the death toll at Nanking exceeded the immediate deaths from the atomic blasts at Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined (and even the total wartime casualty count of entire European countries), the Cold War led to a concerted effort on the part of the West and even the Chinese to court the loyalty of Japan and stifle open discussion of this atrocity. Indeed, Chang characterized this conspiracy of silence, which persists to this day, as a second rape.”
Published: Basic Books on Jun 5, 2012
ISBN: 9780465028252
List price: $15.99
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For far too long I held off reading this seminal work. I didn't know whether I could stomach the violence and pain. I also thought the book would be much longer. On both counts, I was wrong. Chang expertly manages to convey the murderous brutality of the Japanese soldiers and their commanders in a way that shocks your conscience but doesn't turn your stomach. In its little more than 200 pages of actual text, it is a masterwork of concision that supplies just the right amount of information to follow the chain of events, to present the actors, their victims and, most importantly, the bystanders in situ and abroad.Chang pays tribute to the heroic efforts of the local expatriates community and reporters, especially the good Nazi John Rabe, the intrepid Americans doctor Robert Wilson and school mistress Minnie Vautrin (I recommend the 2009 biopic "John Rabe" with Ulrich Tukur and Steve Buscemi). In contrast to the UN safe area at Srebrenica in 1995, the International Nanking Safety Zone (barely and insufficiently) protected most of the local population which managed to reach it, stay within its borders and evade Japanese intruders. The Japanese level of atrocities and the bestial brutality in their execution is truly shocking.Still more shocking is the fact that the perpetrators mostly managed to evade justice, while the victims and their helpers did not receive justice and compensation. The Rape of Nanking is but one among a large number of massacres the world chose to look away and not hold the perpetrators accountable for their war crimes. For the over 200.000 deaths, only two people were convicted in the International Military Tribunal for the Far East. Four more were convicted in the Nanjing War Crimes Tribunal (one the convicted was sheltered after the trial by Chiang Kai-Shek!). Chang shows in the Japanese case that "Looking forward, not backward" is a bad strategy in dealing with war crimes (also supported by the lack of accountability caused by the much less vigorous denazification policies in Austria compared to Germany). Amazingly, Japan never paid any war reparations to both Chinas.A must read.read more
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Wow. How do you write a reveiw on such a hard, ugly, true event. I think this book is very well written - if it wasn't you wouldn't be able to stomach the content and finish it. Unbelievable what we let the Japanese walk away from while holding other countries accountable for their actions. The fact that so much of the murder was innocent civilians and children is just stunning. I'm surprised anyone came out of it with their mind intact. Very good and important read. Everyone should know about this.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Harrowing. A keeper! It's like a hill of dung found under Japan's rug. Chang's description of the atrocities should be a wake-up call for Japan to answer its warcrimes.read more
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Reviews

For far too long I held off reading this seminal work. I didn't know whether I could stomach the violence and pain. I also thought the book would be much longer. On both counts, I was wrong. Chang expertly manages to convey the murderous brutality of the Japanese soldiers and their commanders in a way that shocks your conscience but doesn't turn your stomach. In its little more than 200 pages of actual text, it is a masterwork of concision that supplies just the right amount of information to follow the chain of events, to present the actors, their victims and, most importantly, the bystanders in situ and abroad.Chang pays tribute to the heroic efforts of the local expatriates community and reporters, especially the good Nazi John Rabe, the intrepid Americans doctor Robert Wilson and school mistress Minnie Vautrin (I recommend the 2009 biopic "John Rabe" with Ulrich Tukur and Steve Buscemi). In contrast to the UN safe area at Srebrenica in 1995, the International Nanking Safety Zone (barely and insufficiently) protected most of the local population which managed to reach it, stay within its borders and evade Japanese intruders. The Japanese level of atrocities and the bestial brutality in their execution is truly shocking.Still more shocking is the fact that the perpetrators mostly managed to evade justice, while the victims and their helpers did not receive justice and compensation. The Rape of Nanking is but one among a large number of massacres the world chose to look away and not hold the perpetrators accountable for their war crimes. For the over 200.000 deaths, only two people were convicted in the International Military Tribunal for the Far East. Four more were convicted in the Nanjing War Crimes Tribunal (one the convicted was sheltered after the trial by Chiang Kai-Shek!). Chang shows in the Japanese case that "Looking forward, not backward" is a bad strategy in dealing with war crimes (also supported by the lack of accountability caused by the much less vigorous denazification policies in Austria compared to Germany). Amazingly, Japan never paid any war reparations to both Chinas.A must read.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Wow. How do you write a reveiw on such a hard, ugly, true event. I think this book is very well written - if it wasn't you wouldn't be able to stomach the content and finish it. Unbelievable what we let the Japanese walk away from while holding other countries accountable for their actions. The fact that so much of the murder was innocent civilians and children is just stunning. I'm surprised anyone came out of it with their mind intact. Very good and important read. Everyone should know about this.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Harrowing. A keeper! It's like a hill of dung found under Japan's rug. Chang's description of the atrocities should be a wake-up call for Japan to answer its warcrimes.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
The atrocities of war can be long forgotten especially when the country involved is ashamed and in denial that such acts occurred. Even today, the Japanese government continues to deny what exactly took place. Mayhem, rape, and murder are what ensued when the Japanese invaded Nanking during WWII. In the West, it is known as the forgotten Holocaust, in a matter of weeks over 300,000 civilians were disposed of. The Japanese found it easy to kill because they had been taught that next to the emperor their life was valueless. To come back dead from the war was the greatest glory, to be caught alive by the enemy was the greatest shame. Since their life was not important, an enemy’s life became even less so. Veterans involved in the heinous acts, were later interviewed and said they experienced a complete lack of remorse or sense of wrongdoing in torturing, raping, or killing the Chinese people, they were the enemy. A word of caution to the reader, parts of the book are quite graphic in the descriptions of what occurred, definitely not for the squeamish.
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This was a very disturbing but very well written book. It is not for the faint hearted. It reveals some atrocities committed by teh Japanese on the Chinese in 1937 when Japan invaded China. This is a part of history that is not very well known. It will make you feel sick but its important to know. The writer did a fantastic job,
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This is a fascinating well written account. It is a controversial subject, I saw at least two books claiming it never happened. One even claims that the pictures in this book were 'doctored'. Knowing the Japanese habit of re-writing history, I am inclined to believe that this is a true account. I would recommend this book to anyone that is interested in history especially the history of WWII. Please be aware, the descriptions of mass beheadings and systematic rapes are graphic and the pictures may be disturbing to some people.
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