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The Rape of Nanking

Narrated by: Anna Fields
Length: 8 hrs and 3 mins
Categories: History, Asia
4.8 out of 5 stars (94 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

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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.

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wish I learned this in school

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

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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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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.

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  • Douglas
  • 05-09-2009

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.

51 people found this helpful

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  • S. Yates
  • 29-05-2018

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.

16 people found this helpful

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  • William Michael Brauer
  • 26-02-2018

Necessary reading.

Evil. exists not in the"other" but in every individual human being. Weakness/capitulation is no solution.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Kristi
  • 06-05-2016

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

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  • despinne
  • 15-03-2003

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.

31 people found this helpful

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  • Thucydides
  • 05-10-2016

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.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Michael
  • 07-04-2016

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.

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  • Grant Wentworth
  • 12-07-2015

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

3 people found this helpful

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  • James
  • 26-06-2012

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
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  • Mike
  • 27-09-2010

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.......

8 people found this helpful

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  • Labrador with class
  • 10-04-2017

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.

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  • Dallas Winston 9
  • 07-03-2017

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.

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  • Chris
  • 31-05-2017

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.

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  • graham darby
  • 07-07-2016

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.

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  • Stephanie Jane (Literary Flits)
  • 16-01-2015

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.

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  • Helen
  • 21-05-2020

Great introduction to the topic but..

First few chapters were brilliant but then once I got past the first hand accounts it became I'm not sure disjointed. Some parts felt unfinished. Almost didn't finish it, was also way too American centric. Perhaps I was expecting more from the Chinese perspective, not so much the victims but I've come away with a feeling of no Chinese input which is such a shame.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 17-05-2020

Story that needs to be heard

A story that needs to be heard, despite it's cruel and horrific nature. A must read for everyone.

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  • Tom Hanna
  • 21-04-2020

A lesser known phase of 20th cevtury history.

How the World can be very selective in recognizing atrocities carried out on the innocent.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 19-04-2020

jaw-dropping

The most interesting and horrifying book I've ever read, it will shock you on how low humanity can sink,

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  • Anonymous User
  • 17-04-2020

Brutally mesmerising

A must listen. The story, the people and the continued refusal by the Japanese to acknowledge this passage in their history will continue to hold Japan back on the international stage.