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  • The Rape of Nanking

  • Written by: Iris Chang
  • Narrated by: Anna Fields
  • Length: 8 hrs and 3 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History, Military
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (15 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In December 1937, in the capital of China, one of the most brutal massacres in the long annals of wartime barbarity occurred. The Japanese army swept into the ancient city of Nanking and within weeks not only looted and burned the defenseless city but systematically raped, tortured and murdered more than 300,000 Chinese civilians. Amazingly, the story of this atrocity- one of the worst in world history- continues to be denied by the Japanese government.  

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

What listeners say about The Rape of Nanking

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A heart wrenching documentation of history

Before this book my understanding of sino-japanese war was very limited. This opened my eyes to the atrocities committed and the limits of human malevolence. John Rabi is a hero.

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Disturbing account of Japanese atrocities in China

Our history books have largely been ignorant of Japanese atrocities in China and Korea. History has always been written by the ink of the Victor and hence most of it is one sided. This account is hence quite different because it is from the side of the Vanquished..

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Compelling!

The narrator was excellent. I read just 5 chapters, one-third of the book. Iris Chang took enormous pains to research and bring to light the Nanking Holocaust. The disgusting brutality of the Japanese soldiers is exhaustively depicted. In our childhood, 15 years after the end of World War II, we had the distinct impression that the Japanese Army was terribly cruel. Far more cruel than the Germans. But over the years, we have been brainwashed to believe that the Japanese are a very civilised people, and they are amazingly clever and talented - a truly advanced nation - that they suffered terribly from the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

But after reading Iris Chang's descriptions of the Rape of Nanking, I know now why those two atom bombs were dropped on Japan. Divine judgement!

The Japanese Government has not admitted its guilt in the repulsive slaughter of at least 300,000 helpless Chinese victims. If Japan is truly a morally advanced nation, they will repent over this frightful holocaust. But so far, there is neither repentance nor reparation.

Iris Chang was attacked by rightwing elements in Japan and by jealous purblind historians for speaking the truth. Poor thing, she died committing suicide.

The Rape of Nanking should be compulsory reading for all who who study humanities in college. I have nothing against Japan, nor do I speak for China, but the beastly brutality of the Japanese soldiers horrifies me.

I don't think I will be able to complete this book since the images of the horrors of the Nanking Rape are mind-searing.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Douglas
  • 05-09-09

Powerful

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.

73 people found this helpful

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  • S. Yates
  • 29-05-18

Important, Brutal, Critical WWII Reading

After years of learning about World War II (from elementary school through college through personal reading as an adult), I finally turned to this classic and important part of the World War II historical canon. Iris Chang's work chronicling the horrors of the Rape of Nanking is overwhelming. As the subtitle of the book makes clear, while the atrocities committed during the Holocaust by the Nazis have been thoroughly and voluminously studied the same attention to detail and extensive scholarship has not been expended on the months-long atrocities at Nanking. The brutality of the conquering Japanese military against the largely civilian population of Nanking epitomizes savagery and, unlike much of the Holocaust, took place in the open with little subterfuge or euphemisms, in full view of multiple international witnesses.

Chang is meticulous in her work, having gathered information from numerous primary sources, ranging from the letters and diaries of Western observers (including Americans, British, and Germans), as well as interviews with and the writings of the Chinese that survived the event. The scale of the murder, torture, and rape is hard to conceive of -- in fact, just calling it murder and rape makes the cruelty seem mundane when the forms it took were beyond the pale. The inhumanity of the Japanese to the residents of Nanking beggars belief.

This crime against humanity still has ramifications today. The tense Sino-Japanese relationship of the present plays out in a world where the Japanese have never fully admitted their actions or culpability, have never apologized, have never truly educated their population about the myriad shameful acts. Where Germany was forced to face the Holocaust, Japan to this day will not reckon with Nanking. And Western peoples likewise do not pay nearly enough attention to what WWII meant for Asians, only seeming to pay attention to the Japanese to the extent their actions directly impacted the United States. This book is as important now as it was when it was published, and shines a much-needed light on at least one part of the non-Western events of WWII and on the depravity that is possible during wartime.

25 people found this helpful

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  • William Michael Brauer
  • 26-02-18

Necessary reading.

Evil. exists not in the"other" but in every individual human being.

Weakness/capitulation is no solution.

11 people found this helpful

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  • Kristi
  • 06-05-16

One of the most powerful stories ever told

This book should be required reading for any WWII history class. The Nanking Massacre is tragically unknown to most people yet the Jewish holocaust is known about by all. It could be argued that the events in Nanking hold at least the same historical importance and this book tells the story in a truly gripping manner

10 people found this helpful

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  • Thucydides
  • 05-10-16

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.

6 people found this helpful

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  • despinne
  • 15-03-03

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.

33 people found this helpful

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  • Michael
  • 07-04-16

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.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Grant Wentworth
  • 12-07-15

A dark history brushed under the rug

Where does The Rape of Nanking rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Near the top.

What did you like best about this story?

Using first hand accounts helps give the story a face.

Which character – as performed by Anna Fields – was your favorite?

No one really. Just a good narrator

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Very much so

5 people found this helpful

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  • James
  • 26-06-12

A Must LISTEN

Would you listen to The Rape of Nanking again? Why?

Yes, with a pen and paper to get the facts written down.

What did you like best about this story?

The incredible research that has gone into the work.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It astounded me

Any additional comments?

Anyone living-with or dealing with the Chinese should listen to this to gain an understanding into their intense distrust of their neighbours.

7 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Mike
  • 27-09-10

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.......

10 people found this helpful

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  • Labrador with class
  • 10-04-17

Lest we forget

Would you listen to The Rape of Nanking again? Why?

To try and understand how and why Japan as a country and as a nation has not really dealt with this part of their history, ho the emperor was allowed to stay on, and to try an see what would make people behave in that way.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Rape of Nanking?

The interviews with the survivors, 40-50 years after the event. Having lived with that as a memory of your childhood.... and the moment when Tan's friends come looking for his body but find him alive.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

This is not a relevant question for this book.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It made me shed a tear.

Any additional comments?

Read it, and ask Japan a question.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Dallas Winston 9
  • 07-03-17

Detailed description of hell on earth.

If you could sum up The Rape of Nanking in three words, what would they be?

Horrific, illuminating, unforgettable.

What did you like best about this story?

The second part of the book tells of the local foreigners efforts to help the Chinese, it was a nessecery uplift after the horrors described in the first half of the novel.

What does Anna Fields bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

I'm English and this book felt American in origin so she helped me adjust my prospective.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

To forget a holocaust is to kill twice.

Any additional comments?

An horrific story but a nessecery listen for those in search of the truth of the past in the hope that it not be repeated.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Chris
  • 31-05-17

the best and the worst of human beings

Well written, compelling and terrifying. this book should be essentail reading for everyone. It shows both the best and worst of human nature and gives a valuable insight into hate, propoganda and government misuse of power.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Mr Daniel Patrick Cox
  • 12-01-21

Harrowing

Beautifully narrated, this book paints a scene made of nightmares. A truly awful story that everyone should know about.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Stephanie Jane (Literary Flits)
  • 16-01-15

A harrowing listen

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.

10 people found this helpful

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  • graham darby
  • 07-07-16

A staggering book

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.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Tiggy
  • 24-05-21

Eye Opener

What an amazingly devastating record. Cant beleive people want to silence it from history. Well Done Iris, you will not be forgotten either xx

2 people found this helpful

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  • mr r j yapp
  • 13-05-21

Captivating and brutal!

Never before have I felt so appalled, angry and a sense of injustice than listening to this book. It was utterly captivating form the first to the last word and I highly recommend this to anyone. It is clear that the depth of research into the rape of Nanjing was carried out impeccably and so articulately put forward to the reader / listener. 10/10

2 people found this helpful

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  • steve barron
  • 25-04-21

Must listen.

Deep journey into the psychological unravelling of men at war. Atrocities should be remembered.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Lorenzo
  • 17-03-21

History is written by winners

We’ve all heard about how gruesome war can be but this has to be the most macabre book I’ve read about history. What the Nazi did to the Jews would be considered mercy companed to the grotesque atrocities the Japnese inflicted on the chinese in World War II on innocent civilians.

I still see the same thing nowadays where people are scared to speak their mind or the truth because they are scared of the consequence. This is how evil grows little by little till it becomes monstrous.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-05-20

Outstanding

This book has had a life changing effect on me! While the book is confronting and the atrocities committed are nothing short of barbarism. The fact that so many people have fought back risking their lives and giving up everything, so the world is aware of the Rape of Nanking is truly inspirational.

Unfortunately this is just one of countless examples of the horrific history of human depravity. It seems that humans are doomed to continue to make the same horrific judgements of error. Which is concerning.

To all the people involved in this book, to the author Iris Chang and the victims of Nanking thankyou for bring this story to peoples attention.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-12-21

Facts about the Rape of Nanking , show how people act as beasts in war. Soldiers do a dirty job, this act was not honourable .

Thank you for a book that tells the horrors the people of Nanking lived and died at the hands of extremely poorly trained soldiers. True soldiers will not conduct themselves in such a brutal way. We as a globe community need to read and listen to this disgraceful part of our history. Hopefully such acts aren’t repeated in the future. Thank so much , it must have been painful putting it’s together. Great reading.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Anonymous User
  • 23-11-21

it will bring tears to your eyes

The forgot and covered up history of WII are absolutely horrendous and needs to be known world wide. The Chinese people and government haven't forgotten and will bring more understanding to what may eventuate in the future with China and Japan.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Alex Lash
  • 12-08-21

"a holocaust forgotten is to kill twice"

I'm saddened by Its message but I'm also grateful for its truth and enlightenment on such significant history that must not be forgotten.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 25-11-19

wish I learned this in school

Great book sharing some terrible times of the past. Makes you really grateful for how things are today.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Tri Le
  • 06-01-22

Authentic insights into a part of history

Such a book with so many details but still succinct, giving a very vivid account of an important part of the history which broaden the listeners's view. The narration is clear and engaging.

The chapters should have names as well, not only numbers

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  • noel
  • 09-05-21

Excellent.

Well put together work with some interesting insights, a difficult subject, hat tip to the author for sharing her talent.

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  • Sue Peterson
  • 24-11-20

Unbelievable

Shocking reality of history. Well told and spoken.
A must for any history fan chasing the truth

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 06-05-20

A Story that must be read

This was hard listening at times, not because it wasn't interesting or because of the narrator but simply due all the horrors the book exposes.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 26-02-20

Truth need to be reveal

the truth need to be reveal, the book describe the story in a objective way.
However, It is very sad and heavy book to read.