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Iris Chang's THE RAPE OF NANKING
Rape of Nanking

NANKING is a thoroughly documented and well written account of Japan's unparalleled World War II atrocities centered in northern China. What magnifies Japan's criminal barbarism is the way it has gone unnoticed and unpunished for so long because of denial and repression and political influence. The Nazis have been held accountable and their atrocities well-documented and publicized, even in films such as SCHINDLER'S LIST, but the bloodlust of the Nanking Massacre isn't even mentioned in the vast majority of American history books.

One has to ask the question: Why don't Americans know more about Japan's wartime atrocities such as Nanking, Manchuria and the Bataan Death March?

My strongest feelings about the book are contained in a couple of quotes:

"Another reason to be gleaned from Nanking is the role of power in genocide. Those who have studied the patterns of large-scale killings throughout history have noted that the sheer concentration of power in government is lethal--that only a sense of absolute unchecked power can make atrocities like the Rape of Nanking possible."

"And there is a third lesson to be learned, one that is perhaps the most distressing of all. It lies in the frightening ease with which the mind can accept genocide, turning us all into passive spectators to the unthinkable. The Rape of Nanking was front-page news across the world, and yet most of the world stood by and did nothing while an entire city was butchered."

Those who are ignorant of history may be doomed to repeat it. This book makes the reader aware of the barbarism Japan's Shinto based government was capable of. Until there's official Japanese acknowledgment, apology, punishment and payment of restitution, we can only assume Japan endorses what was done. And if that's the case, how such a government be trusted?

After more than a decade of researching and writing about unspeakable acts of cruelty, Iris Chang took her life in 2004. She was researching the Bataan March when she died. She was alone in a car on a rural road. I wish I'd known her and been her friend, someone she could have called. I would have told her to take some time off work to relax and have fun and take care of herself.

When our passion for justice becomes too entwined with our sense of self, we lose sight of the fundamental requirements for health and happiness. We forget that a healthy and happy mind will extend the depth and breadth of our contribution to whatever cause we have chosen.

But that can be easier said than done when we shoulder the load of other people's pain and sorrow. From her writing it was clear that Iris Chang was aware that the people whose justice she pursued were dying and there wasn't much time.

May all who pursue such causes take a lesson from Iris Chang and devote some time to nourish our selves.

But what if it weren’t a suicide? Chang had powerful enemies in a social hierarchy that has a historic legacy of ruthlessness. She was dedicated to exposing their horrific misdeeds and had received death threats. It would be simple for a ninja master to slip Iris an hallucinogenic drug to give her the appearance of a mental breakdown and then coerce her into writing suicide notes. Is everyone who writes about Japanese war atrocities at risk of such a fate? 

These are the thoughts people will have until Japan comes clean.