The Rape of Nanking Summary & Study Guide

Iris Chang
This Study Guide consists of approximately 44 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Rape of Nanking.
This section contains 514 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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The Rape of Nanking Summary & Study Guide Description

The Rape of Nanking Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

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The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II by Iris Chang follows the progression of Japanese soldiers from Shanghai to Nanking during World War II and gives account of the horrible atrocities committed by the Japanese military at Nanking. The book begins with a vast number of statistics that serve to show the true massacre of the Chinese people at the hands of the Japanese. It continues by analyzing the path the Japanese took on their way to Nanking, and uses true eyewitness accounts to paint a horrifying picture of destruction. As they reached Nanking, the Japanese military kidnapped women for sex slaves, raped thousands, and murdered tens of thousands. As Nanking fell, thousands more soldiers and citizens alike were systematically slaughtered, mutilated, and tortured, while the women were gang raped to death, beaten, and kidnapped. For six weeks, the citizens of Nanking endured constant fear, anguish, pain, and suffering at the hands of the Japanese.

However, Chang also tells the story of a small band of foreigners within Nanking who fought with their lives to create a safe zone for the Chinese citizens of the city, those of the International Committee, who created the Nanking safe zone. Chang tells specifically of three individuals who risked their lives to save the people. John Rabe, a businessman, Robert Wilson, a surgeon, and Wilhelmina Vautrin, an educator, worked day and night to fight off the Chinese and to feed hundreds of thousand of refugees with no assistance. Their heroism undoubtedly save the lives of over two hundred thousand Chinese refugees. In addition, the actions of news correspondents and filmmakers stuck in the area allowed the story of Nanking to reach the rest of the world.

However, as Japan surrendered following the war, Chang discusses the war trials in depth, and discusses how the immunity of the Emperor of Japan as a condition of surrender led to the cover-up of the Nanking incident. She also follows up on the survivors of the Nanking massacre, including the horrible lives of those in the International Committee who fought so bravely to save the people, only to fall to poverty, disease, exhaustion, persecution, and death. Further, Chang discusses the reasons for the cover-up of the incident, and warns of the dangers of an unchecked government, power, greed, human nature, and ignoring genocide.

This novel is perhaps one of the most complete works on the topic of the Nanking invasion, and is told primarily through the diaries and other correspondence of those who lived within the city at the time of the crisis. The story is harrowing, moving, horrifying, and at times, disgusting as specific acts are described in detail. And yet, between these incidents, lies a strong message of power in individuals, and the overwhelming ability of humankind both to rise above and help others, and well as to fight through unthinkable adversity. This book serves well as a warning to the world of the danger of unchecked government, as well as of the plight of the victims of the Rape of Nanking.

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This section contains 514 words
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