The New York Times bestselling account of one of history's most brutal -- and forgotten -- massacres, when the Japanese army destroyed China's capital city on the eve of World War II
In December 1937, one of the most horrific atrocities in the long annals of wartime barbarity occurred. The Japanese army swept into the ancient city of Nanking (what was then the capital of China), and within weeks, more than 300,000 Chinese civilians and soldiers were systematically raped, tortured, and murdered. In this seminal work, Iris Chang, whose own grandparents barely escaped the massacre, tells this history from three perspectives: that of the Japanese soldiers, that of the Chinese, and that of a group of Westerners who refused to abandon the city and created a safety zone, which saved almost 300,000 Chinese.
Drawing on extensive interviews with survivors and documents brought to light for the first time, Iris Chang's classic book is the definitive history of this horrifying episode.
"Chang vividly, methodically, records what happened, piecing together the abundant eyewitness reports into an undeniable tapestry of horror." - Adam Hochschild, Salon
The Japanese sack of the Chinese capital Nanking is surely among the world's worst atrocities. In 1937, Japanese forces captured the city and embarked on an orgy of rape, murder and destruction of property unparalleled in scope anywhere to that date. Estimates of those killed within a few days range upward of 350,000. Chang, a freelance writer, first heard about what came to be known as the Rape of Nanking from her parents, who fled China after WWII and settled in the U.S. The author's extensive research lays bare the depravity of Japanese conduct during the war and the heroic resistance of members of the international community in Nanking, who established a safety zone, at great personal risk, to shelter countless thousands of Chinese refugees. One of the unsung heroes of the tragedy is John Rabe, an influential Nazi German in the city who tried without avail to use his influence with Hitler to stop the massacre. Chang's account also takes Japan to task for failing to acknowledge its role in the bloodbath, noting that many high-level Japanese officials still refuse to admit their country's complicity. Likening the siege of Nanking to the recent genocide in Bosnia and Rwanda, the author reminds us that "civilization itself is tissue-thin." A compelling, agonizing chronicle.