The Rape of Nanking is a non-fiction book that describes the events leading up to the Nanking Massacre, which was the mass murder and mass rape of Chinese civilians committed by the Imperial Japanese Army in Nanking during the Second Sino-Japanese War.
The book provides graphic details of the war crimes and atrocities committed by Japanese troops and criticizes the Japanese government for its refusal to rectify the atrocities. It also criticizes the Japanese people for their ignorance about the massacre.
One of the primary themes of the book is nationalism/Japanese identity, which Chang places at least some of the blame for the events at Nanking on the development of nationalist and the Japanese identity.
Another theme is the postwar reaction to the massacre, especially that of the American and European governments. The book also examines the circumstances that have kept knowledge of the massacre out of public consciousness decades after the war.
What I Liked
I’m thankful that this book exists. And I’m thankful that Iris Chang was able to stare right into the research and write this book. I appreciate the structure, detail, and pacing. It’s not a dense, academic book – it’s meant to tell this story to a wide audience and ensure that the world does not forget.
What I Did Not Like
I mean…it’s a full-on “eat your vegetables” history book. It’s rough and you gotta be in a clear eyed place to read it. But the actual book – there’s nothing that I wish was changed.