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The Rape Of Nanking (1998)

The Rape of Nanking (1998)
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4.05 of 5 Votes: 2
ISBN
0140277447 (ISBN13: 9780140277449)
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English
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penguin books
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The Rape Of Nanking (1998)
The Rape Of Nanking (1998)

About book: Is #JeSuisCharlie still trending on Twitter? Or, rather, is it still fashionable to bleat and moan about "freedom of speech" without mention of the First Amendment Zones in Ferguson, the labeling of protesters as looters and militants by mass media, this particular gem of a post, and so many other violations of the right to speak that aren't saturated enough with European imperialism to merit the world's attention? Just look how the Boko Haram massacre of thousands was received by a world in mourning for French journalists, or how little attention was paid to the French government's treatment of Muslims both past and present before. I didn't watch them myself, but I've heard that many a celebrity during the Golden Globes cheered for Charlie Hebdo but stayed mum during a speech on BlackLivesMatter that, despite all media black outs to the contrary, is still going strong. Also Bill Cosby rape jokes by white feminists, cause freedom of speech, right?Where's the movie for this? Where's the industry on par with the Holocaust entertainment business the US is currently enraptured with? There's plenty of adulation for US Americans and other variations on those of European descent facing down hordes of non-European scum, so why not aggrandize this to as an obscene degree as Schindler's List? The author killed herself seven years after publication, leaving notes behind that spoke of government pressure and other sordid influences pulling at her from the dark. Where is your anger, JeSuisCharliests, over that?This edition includes pictures of the atrocities because, depending on who you are and where you live, your right to be mourned won't be respected unless your body is put on public display in all its shame and mutilation. Depending on who you are killed by, your right to be mourned will subsidized in accordance to whether you are legally a human being in comparison to the legal humanity of your killer. Two of my teachers thought it necessary to strip the Charlie Hebdo shooting of its extenuating context in order to prove a point of satire or philosophical discussion of "What is terrorism", the latter gleefully pinning the difference between war and insurgent terror on whether it was conducted by a "legal state". If it is possible to become a "legal state" through centuries of genocide and enslavement that are reinforced to this day via military industrial complex, what does that mean for our "legal" right to freedom of speech?Japan at the time of the Rape of Nanking was a legal state, so apparently Chang was wrong in calling their actions "terrorism". As such, a more sanitized, legal, "correct" term would be collateral damage, the likes of which rank with Guantánamo Diary which every #JeSuisCharliest should be reading if there's an actual fucking point to their sociopolitical bandwagon. Freedom of speech, freedom of speech, freedom of speech, and when you have drone strikes of Yemen weddings, Mike Brown Memorials and sleepless homeless people being set fire to with equal impunity on US soil, denials by the Canadian government of the democide of its First Nations women, and #KillAllMuslims and #ItAintRape trending on Twitter, don't come crying to me about what a hateful world we live in. It is one where a white boy can slaughter college students and elementary school children alike in the land of the free and the home and the brave, and if you don't see a correlation between the brutal Japanese indoctrination of their soldiers and the reception of American Sniper, you're either a fool or a big fan of dehumanization so long as it's aimed in the right direction.I wonder how many people read this to support their xenophobia in regards to Japanese people. I wonder how many people passed off the author's ending of her own life as typical of her kind. I wonder how many people excused the US' enabling of Japan's historical denial as a necessary international strategy of upholding "peace". I've seen a lot of reviews commenting on Chang's improper academic methodologies in writing this which, okay, if formulaic standards of citation matter more to you than the 52 pages of further evidence that conclude this massive indictment of the relation between the money we make and the history we remember, you're complicit. True, some involved in this were indeed judged to be war criminals, but it was a mere few months ago that the CIA Torture Report revealed war criminals of similar caliber that were swiftly exonerated. If you think all the world's myriad factions of varying brutality both illegal and not so much didn't learn a lesson from that dominating erasure, think again. There are those who believe that the Japanese are uniquely sinister—a dangerous race of people who will never change. But after reading several file cabinets’ worth of documents on Japanese war crimes as well as accounts of ancient atrocities from the pantheon of world history, I would have to conclude that Japan’s behavior during World War II was less a product of dangerous people than of a dangerous government, in dangerous times, able to sell dangerous rationalizations to those who human instincts told them otherwise.You want to talk freedom of speech? Let's talk freedom of speech and how the majority use it to constantly remind those of their rapeable, murderable, dehumanizable status and throw shit fits when some react by using it to protest said status. Let's talk about the hate crimes that have followed the freedom of speech rallies and who has been allowed to get away with terror. Just don't expect the conversation to end when #JeSuisCharlie stops trending. Your freedom of ignorance does not render you free of blood on your hands.

The book was published in 1997. Seven years after, Iris Chang (1968-2004), probably due to the pressures from Japanese revisionists for writing this book among others, killed herself. One of her three suicide notes says: "There are aspects of my experience in Louisville that I will never understand. Deep down I suspect that you may have more answers about this than I do. I can never shake my belief that I was being recruited, and later persecuted, by forces more powerful than I could have imagined. Whether it was the CIA or some other organization I will never know. As long as I am alive, these forces will never stop hounding me." Iris Chang, made popular by this book, shot stuck a gun in her mouth, was only 36 years old at the time of her death. The reason why this book became popular was that it shocked the whole world. Many people at that time had a little information about the massacre in Nanjing, the former capital of China. Chang, a journalist by training, was no historian and this showed, in my opinion, in her writing many times. For example, she contradicted herself by saying in the intro that Japanese suffered a "collective amnesia" but in the third part of the book, presenting the perspectives of the Japanese, she cited the arguments coming from the Japanese people. In the end, the book still left me with these questions: did all these really happened exactly as written by Chang in this book? Or did Chang sensationalize everything just to be popular?Born just 4 years ahead of Chang who by the way was born and raised in the US by parents who used to live in Taiwan, I only heard a couple of stories of World War II from my parents. My mom was born in 1936 and my dad in 1937 and they were in the island as toddlers when the Japanese surrendered to the Americans in 1945. They were hidden by my grandparents and the only story so they did see a Japanese soldier. In fact, I think the only story that probably really happened was that a Japanese soldier, atop a motorboat in Lamon Bay, was seen by an American pilot so he fired at the boat and the Japanese together with some folks from the island died. This was probably during the time when the Japanese forces were being chased by Americans for them to go back to Japan. I mean if I were born in the US and I thought hitting it big and I heard about this story, I would have interviewed my mom again, probably go back to the island, spend years in the library (Chang was said to have spent 2 years writing this book) and think of a title more intriguing than massacre of Filipinos in the boat (translation: mass "rape" is more attention-catcher than "massacre"). There are overwhelming proofs presented in the book that the massacre, including the rape really happened. However, I guess, Chang did not have the right training to tell this sensitive and still-debatable part of the rich and complex Sino-Japanese history. Being a Chinese descent, she also has a built-in bias towards China and this was, sadly, reflected and can be easily inferred by readers of this book. I mean, I do not have anything against either Japanese or Chinese as I have friends belonging to both and have been in those countries several times (business trips) and WWII hardly becomes a topic of conversation during that time and even now in the office. For example, say I am in the office pantry and I start talking about Nanjing Massacre of 1937, I would surely see blank faces of my office mates probably thinking "what is he talking about?"
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Reviews
Ariel
I picked this up after reading Unbroken in which this period of history was mentioned. I, like I think a lot of people, did not know anything about this aspect of WWII history. In Unbroken it is referenced as being so bad that it terrified the American soldiers greatly and they were deathly afraid to be captured by the Japanese. My interest peaked and I decided to learn more.I seem to be specializing in little known holocausts as I am also reading Sandcastle Girls which deals with the Armenian genocide. Reader beware, Iris Chang spared no details in relating the Rape of Nanking. The horrific descriptions were so awful that they gave me nightmares and there were pictures to boot. Weak stomached people should stick to the Wikipedia summary.In any case what happened is during WWII the Japanese who live on a teeny tiny island dubbed themselves the master race and in order to branch out decided to take over China. They conquered Shanghai, the New York of the east and moved on to Nanking where they met no resistance. It turns out that the Chinese weren't too interested in fighting the Japanese after all and surrendered without pretty much any resistance. Thousands of Chinese soldiers were laying down their weapons for the relatively few Japanese. This caused quite the problem for the Japanese who could not feed thousands upon thousands of prisoners. Their solution? kill them all. Hague Convention out the window. As if that was not disturbing enough what happened next could hardly be described as the acts of a human being. Due in part to the sadistic way Japanese soldiers were trained all sense of decency was obliterated.Sexual depravity, mass rape, and killing innocent civilians in ever inventive ways. It got so bad it even sickened the Nazi's. Some foreigners tried to intervene but it was a drop in a waterfall. It took the dropping of the atomic bomb to finally expel the Chinese from Japan.The author took her work very personally. My times she interjects the word I into the narrative. As a Chinese American she had more than a passing interest in the terrible treatment of her people. She became consumed by Japan's minimizing the holocaust. Where the Nazi's were punished after WWII and had to make reparations the Japanese for a variety of reasons were never held accountable. Many of the Japanese involved in the atrocities were holding prominent positions in society. The Japanese tried to white wash in their textbooks and any Japanese citizens who were involved that tried to speak out and offer apologies was ostracized. Chang tried to confront Japanese officials about their treatment of Chinese citizens during the holocaust but she was rebuffed and the validity of her work was called into question. While working on a book about the Bataan Death March, another shameful chapter in Japanese history, she suffered a nervous breakdown and killed herself. She is regarded as another victim of the Rape of Nanking.This book should be read so that light can be shed on this little known chapter of world history and so that it will never forgotten. I am not sure if all of Iris Changs information is accurate as some would claim but if only a portion is true than it is bad enough. It is a shame that Iris Chang was never able to deliver to the Chinese people the apology from Japan that she so desperately wanted to hear.
Juanita
The Rape of Nanking was an experience. I’d finished this book several weeks ago but couldn’t write about it for some time because of the emotional toll reading this took on me. Reading this book I felt profound emotion, the most surprising of them was shame. I felt shame for not having realized this massacre for my entire 36 years of life. I felt shame for the human race - that something could cause us to behave so sadistically, so heartlessly. And finally shame for not having seen genocide as the horrendous tool that it has been used as. This book literally had me sobbing. I would read it and have to put it down from the surging emotions that were conjured up. It is a tale of the lowest and the greatest of humankind simultaneously – those that savagely raped and killed hundreds of defenseless men, women and children and the small band of heroes that fought for the abused. The author, Iris Chang, tells the story respectfully but with a gut-wrenching honesty that surpasses all reasoning. I marvel at her bravery. It was painful to read but I could not stop once I got started because of the way that the book was written. It was unputdownable from the very first page to even the end notes. I wanted to take in every page of the book and made many personal notations throughout. I enjoyed the reference guide in the back of the book and the brevity of the book itself. When you’re reading the types of things that this book contains you really want it to end as quickly as possible after getting the facts out. Chang got right to the point and never let up. Her descriptions of the atrocities that were perpetuated by Japan against the Chinese were hard and tough to read. But I knew that these terrible descriptions were needed to truly give life to the hundreds of thousands of the people silenced in a genocide that is still denied to this day. I was grateful that Chang tried to give the mindset of the Japanese soldier that committed the genocide since I found myself wondering aloud why they were so sex-starved and so savage. I wanted those answers that she tried to give. I am so glad that I read this book. It is my goal to continue to remind myself and my family of the crimes that were so easily committed and of the fact that no one should ever turn a blind eye to evil no matter what country’s name it comes disguised under. Great book!!!
Ronald Schoedel
First of all, this is an extremely difficult book to stomach. I had no clue what rating to give this one. Five stars makes it sound like I "liked" the book. I hated it. I hated that such a book has a reason to exist. I did however appreciate that an entire historical event that has largely been swept under the rug has become accessible in this book, first published in 1997--six decades after the events described. So, I wouldn't necessarily "recommend" this book to anyone, as the cruelest, most inhumane acts you've never thought of are described in depressingly horrifying eye witness accounts and survivor accounts, leaving you likely to feel hopelessly sad. In fact, the author (a Chinese-American) took her own young life only six years after publishing this book, as she was in the midst of researching for a book she was writing on the Bataan Death March. If the Nazis took civilian death-tolls to a new scale, the Japanese Imperial Army took torture and cruelty to an equal scale (if not in numbers of deaths). This is the story of another WW2 tragedy, the Japanese invasion and conquering of the Chinese capital of Nanjing (then Nanking), and the hundreds of thousands of civilians who were cruelly tortured, raped, murdered, and exposed to acts of depravity that defy fully accurate description.Now, it is important to note that this is not a book about an alleged moral superiority of one nationality, culture, or people--or the moral inferiority of another. It is not a book that casts blame on a people as a whole while pretending another people is guilt-free. In fact what the book does is show, with grotesque realism, the danger of such collectivism which is instilled in a group (here, the Japanese army) through the ideologies into which the group is brainwashed (here, the worship of the Japanese emperor and a mindless obedience to his imperialist goals). Rather than believing that Japanese are evil, the takeaway from this book is that enforced ideology (Japanese imperialism, Naziism, and I daresay American manifest destiny and expansionism) has a tendency to dehumanize entire groups of people and count as worthless the destruction of cultures and the deaths of entire populations that stand in the way of the ideology. No people is innately evil: not the Japanese, not the Germans, not the Chinese, not the Jews, not the Americans, etc. But when a people become filled with and fueled by an all-pervasive, no-holds-barred political ideology, they tend to lose the desire or ability to think for themselves, which leads to the sorts of atrocities described in horrific detail in The Rape of Nanking. The lesson is one of individualism over collectivism, individual thinking over trusting one's "leaders", and the reality that the brother/sisterhood of all humanity can only exist when we see each others as individuals, not as members of this or that class/nation/culture/people/&c. When soldiers are not force-fed psychological training that tells them the only life that matters is [choose one: the emperor, the fuhrer, the master race, etc.] and that their own lives are best spent dying for [the emperor, &c.], and that if their own lives are so worthless, then the lives of the "enemy" (including civilians) must be less than worthless, it is true that most soldiers would not dream of committing atrocities as the Japanese army did in Nanking. When individuals think for themselves, and are permitted to pursue their own goals, dreams, and desires, seldom does a Nanking or a Dachau or a Trail of Tears materialize: millions of people don't tend to dream up ways to torture fellow human beings on their own.The value of this book is in helping us to not forget the atrocities that have been permitted to occur by nations/cultures/peoples who have been swept up into dangerous ideologies to the point that all reason and humanity are tossed aside. There is a reason why the Jewish Holocaust is required in most history education curricula. The Rape of Nanking ought to be, as well, as should the Ukrainian holodomor of 1932-33, and Mao's many evil deeds, and countless other acts of inhumanity in the name of political ideology. Don't let some "leader" (president, talk show host, political party, politician, religious leader, &c.) do your thinking for you. The good people of early 20th century Germany and Japan (and, at other times, China and America and Britain and on and on) didn't tend to harbor evil feelings toward entire other classes/races/nations/cultures on their own, but were led into such by so-called leaders who know how to lead populations into ideologically-grouned groupthink.
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