Putu the Cat

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Sunday, November 14, 2004

Iris Chang (1968-2004)

Chang died of 'self inflicted gunshot wounds'- and the cause of her suicide is said to be severe depression. The author of the fantastic The Rape of Nanking, which Putu highly recommends was working on a new book which looked at American POWs tortured in Japan. Her book outraged many Japanese, both ordinary people as well as academics, but remains the most readable, if harrowing account of the Japanese occupation. Do read this fascinating 2003 interview with Chang. One of the interesting things she says is that the rape of Nanking was not the worst massacre of a people in history, and points to the Bangladesh war. Also she makes the point that 19-35 million Chinese died in WWII- that's a huge huge number of people...and yet when we hear about WWII we remember the concentration camps and maybe St. Petersburg...it's curious and frightening how some people can get 'written out' of histories.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Haha, so you are talking about under-representation instead of mis-represenation. Hmmm, actually both are kind of related. Moi recalls the ending of Black Hawk Down for the latter and obviously, Pearl Harbor just wouldn't get fucking over unless the US had its rightful vengeance on the Japs (Tora!Tora!Tora! was actually much better).
But seriously, millions of Chinese people? - seems kinda ludicrous...

11:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Definitely a tragic affairs. Iris Chang is certainly to be thanked for bringing the attention of the historical community to the massacre, but I'm afraid her book was a huge blow to historical efforts to silence the right wing in Japan. She did such an absolutely shoddy job of the work that the Japanese revisionists got all excited. They had a field day pointing out the fake photographs and false figures in her work and then declared in conclusion that the whole massacre was therefore nothing more than Chinese propaganda. Historians of the Sino-Japanese war have been trying to do damage control ever since. -Konrad

I posted an entry translating a few pieces of a great book available in Japanese and Chinese on the massacre:


and also, see an article by one of the leading western scholars on the massacre:


He describes Chang's work as, "a work that can only be described as frequently fabricated and/or fictitious."

11:09 AM  
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