View Full Version : U.S. Author of 'Rape of Nanking' Commits Suicide

Nov 11th, 2004, 11:25 PM
U.S. Author of 'Rape of Nanking' Commits Suicide

Thu Nov 11, 2:10 PM ET
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By Adam Tanner

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The author of "the Rape of Nanking," an acclaimed history of Japanese brutality against China in the 1930s, has committed suicide, officials said on Thursday.

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Iris Chang, 36, published "The Rape of Nanking," a graphic account of the 1937 Japanese Army invasion of China. After it appeared in 1997, the book helped prompt Japan to reexamine this dark history.

Police found her body in a car on a road south of San Francisco and said she died from a single bullet to the head. Her husband reported her missing on Monday and police identified the body on Tuesday morning, said Terrance Helm of the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Department.

"Our detectives determined it was a suicide," he said.

Her agent, Susan Rabiner, said Chang had suffered from "classical clinical depression" and had been hospitalized earlier this year. She said Chang left a note to her family asking that she be remembered as she was before her illness.

The release of her best-selling book came on the 60th anniversary of the Japanese capture of the Chinese capital of Nanking. She wrote graphically of the result in a book her agent said sold about half a million copies.

"An estimated 20,000-80,000 Chinese women were raped," Chang wrote. "Many soldiers went beyond rape to disembowel women, slice off their breasts, nail them alive to walls. Fathers were forced to rape their daughters and sons their mothers as other family members watched."

"Not only did live burials, castration, the carving of organs and the roasting of people become routine, but more diabolical tortures were practiced."

Japan has been slow to acknowledge the scale of the atrocities, and her account sparked anger from conservative Japanese. In 1998 Japan's ambassador to the United States created a diplomatic stir by calling Chang's book misleading.

Her book was never published in Japan although it was translated into a number of foreign languages. "I think the right-wing assaults on the Japanese publishing houses have sent a chill across the entire industry," she told Reuters in 2001.

Chang spent two years working on the book when she was in her late 20s, interviewing aged survivors in China. The effort gave her an unusually high profile for a young historian, and her Web site lists more than two dozen public appearances for the period between March and May this year.

"A lot of people, when Iris would tour and talk about the Rape of Nanking, would come to her with their stories of unhappiness, atrocities, violence, on any side," said Wendy Wolf, one of her editors at Viking Penguin. "It sort of opened minds to talking and sharing their own experiences."

Her agent Rabiner said she was working most recently on a book about U.S. forces who fought on the Bataan Peninsula in the Philippines in World War II.

Born in Princeton, New Jersey, to Chinese immigrant parents, Chang grew up in Illinois and graduated from the University of Illinois in 1989. She worked for the Associated Press wire service and the Chicago Tribune before becoming an historian full time. She lived in Sunnyvale, California.

Her most recent book was "The Chinese in America: A Narrative History." She is survived by her husband and two-year old son.

Nov 11th, 2004, 11:26 PM
pretty sad that she got that depressed and whatever they were doing to combat it didn't work...:sad:

Nov 11th, 2004, 11:34 PM
pretty sad that she got that depressed and whatever they were doing to combat it didn't work...:sad:
She's a great modern historian who show the Modern Chinese History with humanity and depth. She will be greatly miss. :sad:

Nov 11th, 2004, 11:46 PM
oh no..:sobbing: i loved that book..
I hope she's happier and depressed free wherever she is now..

Nov 12th, 2004, 01:20 AM
She was a great historian...albeit a very biased one.

Nov 12th, 2004, 08:07 AM
What is the matter with people for godsake, that they could treat other humans worse than they would flies.

Never ceases to amaze and depress me, humans are really starting to p*ss me off. I know there are some good ones around but honestly the atrocities all round the world are so appalling.

And all the western world is worried about is whether two gays can get married, because of "morals". Makes you laugh if not cry.

Nov 12th, 2004, 02:07 PM
I would say that most historians, writers, political scientists, etc are fairly biased in their study. Obviously, modern Chinese history was important to Chang and her book tried to force the Japanese to admit a dark part of their history they would rather forget. However, I do think the great strength of The Rape of Nanking was that Chang brought to light a forgotten part of world history. For that alone, she deserves to be commended. In reading The Rape of Nanking, I felt that I was there in that city witnessing the horror of these atrocities being committed. It takes a great writer to make you believe that you are within the construct of the text and Chang was able to do that.

Horrifying atrocities like geocide should never be forgotten. Iris Chang made sure that no one would forget what happened in Nanking and I, for one, will always be grateful to her for that. I hope that she and her family can somehow find peace.