The Rape of Nanking, by Iris Chang

2012 Book 165: The Rape of Nanking

Written by Iris Chang, Narrated by Anna Fields

Reason for Reading: Reading Globally group on LibraryThing’s China and surrounding countries theme read. 


In the early 1930’s the Chinese city of Nanking was occupied by Japanese soldiers. Tens of thousands of civilians were killed by Japanese soldiers to save money for supplies. Women were brutally raped and mutilated. But the stories of these victims and the foreigners who risked their lives to help them are not often told. Iris Chang wanted the world to know about these atrocities. Her brutal history was very difficult for me to read because the atrocities were described in such detail that I felt sick. I had to take frequent breaks. But it was a very engaging narrative, so I always wanted to pick it back up again. Chang certainly knew how to write an interesting story! Several times while reading the book, though, I felt as though Chang was too emotionally involved to write a completely reliable narrative. I’m not denying the massacres at Nanking, mind, but I think Chang had a very anti-Japanese view which would have made her prefer the larger estimates for death numbers, made especially-brutal rapes sound more common than they may have been, and made the Japanese sound purely evil as a whole group without exception. Nevertheless, this book taught me a lot about the relationship between the Chinese and the Japanese. As long as the readers keep in mind Chang’s emotions, they can learn a lot from this engaging history.

I now have a hankering for a nice book about friendly, likable Japanese people. If you have any suggestions, let me know! 🙂

8 thoughts on “The Rape of Nanking, by Iris Chang

  1. Yeah I know. I thought about saying that in the review, and then decided that if it weren't stated properly I could either cheapen the review or glorify suicide by mentioning it. I don't feel a book should get more coverage because the author killed herself. 😦 And I think that happened to a certain extent with this book. It's too bad, really.

    However, the suicide was certainly tragic, and probably was hastened by the research and aftermath of writing this book. So I'm glad it was mentioned in the comments. 😉


  2. I've seen this book at my library and I keep meaning to set time aside for it. I think, tho, that listening to it in the car commuting to work might not be the best time for it. Imagine how it could affect my mood all day! But I will keep it on the list of Books to Read Before I Die.


  3. Thanks for organizing the hop! I really hope that it takes off, because I like this a whole lot better than memes.

    The book is rather intense, but I was reading it with a group of people, so I felt like I couldn't quit. I'm glad I read it. I learned a lot.


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