I finally got around to reading The Rape of Nanking by Iris Chang.
One of the points that Chang stresses in this book is that knowledge of the events that occurred in 1937 in Nanking is terribly lacking amongst Americans. Personally, I had a general knowledge of the Nanking Massacre before moving to Japan, but only after living here and hearing about the East Asia protests (mainly China and Korea) during Koizumi’s visits to Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo was I prompted to learn more about the history on my own. That’s when I decided to finally read this book.
Does anyone here recall if they covered this specific event in their high school or university world history courses?
War is hell, but even so the Japanese army did an extreme number on Nanking.
Some historians estimate that more than 300,000 Chinese died in Nanking during the Japanese occupation. This is more than the atomic bomb victims in Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined. On the other hand, other historians/politicians, mainly Japanese, estimate that the Nanking massacre never happened, or that only a few thousand members of the Chinese military died in battle…
I have a much better understanding of the circumstances and details regarding this event now that I have read this book. It’s embarrassing to admit, but I did not know that the Chinese army in Nanking had already thrown down their arms and surrendered when the Japanese army marched in. There are also shocking images of Japanese newspapers published at the time that explain a race between two soldiers to see who could kill more Chinese the quickest. Intense.
I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in Japanese history in the slightest.
You can learn more about the Nanking Massacre by reading The Rape of Nanking of course, but also use google, and read the Nanking Massacre wikipedia article.
If you can read Japanese, it’s interesting to compare the Amazon.com reader reviews of The Rape of Nanking to the reviews on Amazon.jp. The Japanese largely discount it as lies. In fact there is a popular book in Japanese called “Research of The Rape of Nanking: Methodologies and Strategies of Information Warfare in China” (my translation of the title) with the sole purpose of discounting The Rape of Nanking largely through denial of responsibility.
The Rape of Nanking itself has been translated into Chinese, but not Japanese. Apparently Chang had a disagreement with the Japanese publisher. The Japanese publisher wanted to only publish the book on the condition that it more than 90 “factual errors” first be corrected…
Of course, a book like this will always be controversial, especially from the point of view of the offending nation… All the more reason to read it.