The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II

TitleThe Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication1998
AuthorsChang, Iris
Number of Pages328
PublisherPenguin (Non-Classics)

"China has endured much hardship in its history, as Iris Chang shows in her ably researched The Rape of Nanking, a book that recounts the horrible events in that eastern Chinese city under Japanese occupation in the late 1930s. Nanking, she writes, served as a kind of laboratory in which Japanese soldiers were taught to slaughter unarmed, unresisting civilians, as they would later do throughout Asia. Likening their victims to insects and animals, the Japanese commanders orchestrated a campaign in which several hundred thousand--no one is sure just how many--Chinese soldiers and noncombatants alike were killed. Chang turns up an unlikely hero in German businessman John Rabe, a devoted member of the Nazi party who importuned Adolf Hitler to intervene and stop the slaughter, and who personally saved the lives of countless residents of Nanking. She also suggests that the Japanese government pay reparations and apologize for its army's horrific acts of 60 years ago." (text taken from Amazon)


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11 Reviews

Reviews for The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II


Posted By: Gretchen I. Jones

Posted On: September 24, 2009

I would actually recommend a good dose of caution about this book, as its quite inflammatory, and it has been criticized by scholars on the subject for being ideological, and mixing some solid research with personal perspective without clarifying the difference. A much better consideration of the topic is Joshua Fogel's edited volume, The Nanjing Massacre in History and Historiography, which I highly recommend. Iris Chang's book can certainly be used, but teachers must be careful to present it with other materials and to contextualize it carefully.


Posted By: Sharon Cohen

Posted On: June 12, 2009

Sometimes world history teachers find it challenging to show case studies of similar types of events. The unfortunate and gruesome details of genocide and mass murder during wartime also can be difficult topics to share with high school students. This book is a valuable resource for teachers who not only want information about Japanese military actions in Nanjing during WW2 but also as a chance to compare stories of 'rescuers'. Thanks to the staff of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum there are many stories available about brave people who sheltered and saved Jews and others from being targets of the Nazi genocide program. Iris Chang does the same in her book in showing the people who helped Chinese men, women, and children escape torture and death by Japanese soldiers. Advanced high school students can read the book on their own, but others might profit more from selected excerpts.