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 Iris 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.
©1997 by Iris Chang (P)1997 by Blackstone Audiobooks
From knowing little about this, I found the book staggering - fascinating and horrific in equal measure.
Not an easy listen by any stretch but something worthwhile to learn and inform yourself about the depths to which human beings can sink in their treatment of each other.
Although not completely unaware of the Japanese invasion of China in the 1930s, I knew very little of the details or the scale of this war. Therefore, when I saw Iris Chang's The Rape of Nanking on Audible, I thought the book would help to fill in some of the gaps in my knowledge. It most certainly does.
The Rape of Nanking is not a book to be taken lightly and is eight hours listening to despicably savage and brutal inhumanity on a truly incredible scale. Anna Fields does an excellent job of the narration and Chang's research was obviously lengthy and thorough to have uncovered such a wealth of detail. I'm sure so much exposure to this level of horror would have turned her mind, even without the harassment she apparently suffered after her book was published.
For me, her most frightening findings are that the events at Nanking, while being perhaps on the largest scale the world has ever seen, are by no means an exclusive result of Japanese culture - a frequent argument I've heard about other WW2 Japanese atrocities. Similar crimes are an all too human failing, as is our ability to remain at a distance and watch rather than instinctively leaping in to protect the victims. I was disappointed but unsurprised by the fact of post-war political shenanigans allowing Japan's government to essentially get away with their actions. Such is the power of money and political paranoia.
I did find it a little odd than the few 'unsung heroes' of Nanking presented by Chang were all white Europeans and Americans. Surely some Chinese must have shown similar bravery? Or perhaps such heroes died before their stories were discovered. I understand that Chang wrote for an American audience, but that gives the book an odd Colonial slant that I found hard to reconcile with her earlier points. Also, I thought the repeated attempts to calculate total numbers were unnecessary and removed me as a listener from the immediacy of the rest of the work. My mind was blown by the initial discussions of between quarter and half a million dead in less than two months. Returning to this numbed me rather than increasing my outrage as presumably was the point.
The Rape of Nanking is a tricky book to evaluate as its subject matter is so horrific and emotive. That it is also still controversial is a bizarre twist. I appreciate Chang's efforts to spread knowledge and open discussions about Nanking. In this, she certainly achieved her aims. However, this is not the strongest written history and, at times, her inexperience shows through. I am sure by now, nearly 20 years later, other historians have taken up her challenge and further titles are out there. I'm not sure that I will be able to cope with returning to the horror in the near future though.
I disagree with one of the other reviewers who said that this book was biased. Chang makes a point of saying that this type of atrocity is not limited to the Japanese people and she gives credit to some Japanese officials who wept when they saw what had taken place. She merely points out that this event in history is too often overlooked. While almost everyone knows about the Holocaust, how many can tell the hideous tales of Nanking, Baatan (Tears In The Darkness) or of Pol Pot in Cambodia (To Destroy You Is No Loss)? We must learn from these historical horrors as well, and, most importantly, as Chang says, acknowledge their victims.
"Well worth your time"
The story is reviewed very well. This is a formerly untold war story about Japanese atrocities. While this may put you off, the book was very well written and gives you a perspective of China toward Japanese that may continue to this day.
"Should be required reading"
This story, so frequently overlooked in the West, really should be just as required reading as any sorry about the Holocaust in Europe
"A Story that needed telling!"
I've heard the term much of my life. I lived through WWII and never got the details on what the "Rape of Nanking" meant. This was a story I needed to hear. The Japanese culture needs correcting....but only exposes like this will let the current generation know what thier forebears did.......
"Simply a must read"
Crucial history well told. Told from the perspective of the Japanese, a Nazi, and an American. Thoroughly researchers and told in with eloquent and compelling prose. Let us never forget and never repeat.
"The world should be made to study this tragedy"
Iris Chang does and excellent job and Anna Fields narrates this book well but what the book lacks is more from the Japanese side. Unfortunately the Japanese seem to be trying to hide this past of theirs. Whilst Germany has to live with the guilt and shame of WWII the Japanese seem to have white washed it. Never the less, I think if the rest of the world remembers, studies, and discusses the Rape of Nanking, then the Japanese will have to come to grips with it. I can't understand how people can do the atrocities they do, lucky I have never been put in that situation but I hope by reading about these events I will think twice and do the right thing and be a human being if ever put in a situation like the Rape of Nanking.
"A dark history brushed under the rug"
Near the top.
Using first hand accounts helps give the story a face.
No one really. Just a good narrator
Very much so
"Good Book but makes you wonder..."
The German Doctor, he was a sense of sanity in the insanity
After listening to this book I wonder why we don't hear more about the Japanese need to apologize for the atrocities they committed. The accounts in this book are quite disturbing, to think the human beings can do these things to other humans just proves that people are not basically good. This is definitely an R rated book because of the descriptions of the horror committed by the soldiers, be very wary of listening in front of kids. If you want a perspective on what the Japanese were like during WWII this will give it to you. If you like history without the rose colored glasses you will like this.
Iris Chang's crisp and economic delivery makes this one of the best nonfiction audiobooks I have ever enjoyed.
The evil perpetrated upon the conquered Chinese by the Japanese is appalling. To think, even the local Nazi contingent felt things had gone too far and set up a safe zone for the persecuted to find succor behind the swastika...
"A Must LISTEN"
Yes, with a pen and paper to get the facts written down.
The incredible research that has gone into the work.
It astounded me
Anyone living-with or dealing with the Chinese should listen to this to gain an understanding into their intense distrust of their neighbours.
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