The Woman Who Could Not Forget: Iris Chang Before and Beyond The Rape of Nanking: A Memoirby Ying-Ying Chang, Richard Rhodes (Introduction)
Iris Chang's best-selling book The Rape of Nanking forever changed the way we view the Second World War in Asia. It all began with a photo of a river choked with the bodies of hundreds of Chinese civilians that shook Iris to her core. Who were these
A moving, illuminating memoir about the life of world-famous author and historian, Iris Chang, as told by her mother.
Iris Chang's best-selling book The Rape of Nanking forever changed the way we view the Second World War in Asia. It all began with a photo of a river choked with the bodies of hundreds of Chinese civilians that shook Iris to her core. Who were these people? Why had this happened and how could their story have been lost to history? She could not shake that image from her head. She could not forget what she had seen.
A few short years later, Chang revealed this "second Holocaust" to the world. The Japanese atrocities against the people of Nanking were so extreme that a Nazi party leader based in China actually petitioned Hitler to ask the Japanese government to stop the massacre. But who was this woman that single-handedly swept away years of silence, secrecy and shame?
Her mother, Ying-Ying, provides an enlightened and nuanced look at her daughter, from Iris' home-made childhood newspaper, to her early years as a journalist and later, as a promising young historian, her struggles with her son's autism and her tragic suicide. The Woman Who Could Not Forget cements Iris' legacy as one of the most extraordinary minds of her generation and reveals the depth and beauty of the bond between a mother and daughter.
Prize-winning author, who was impressed by the determination of Chang's mother to celebrate her daughter's life.”
yet ultimately inspirational. Iris Chang's courage, her tenacity and conviction reverberate through this excellent biography.”
Chang’s moving insights help us to better understand the triumphs and travails and the life and suicide of her beloved warrior-daughter Iris.”
Japanese Imperial Army in Nanking, shocking the world. Now, Ying Ying's book reveals the details about the events that shaped Iris to be a fighter for justice. She shows Iris as a student, as a daughter, and as a human being with emotions and human weaknesses, so we can further understand Iris as the person whose short existence of 36 years contributed so immensely to humanity.
Tremendously touching and moving.”
Read the eulogy and you'll understand the global significance of Iris and her work. Read this book by her mother and you will know her as the courageous woman she was.”
A life of the brilliant journalist and historian Iris Chang, who committed suicide in 2004, as told by her admiring mother.
In less than ten years, Iris Chang published three groundbreaking and critically acclaimed histories:Thread of the Silkworm (1995), about the creator of China's Cold War missile program; The Rape of Nanking (1997), which exposed the atrocities committed by Japan against China during World War II; and The Chinese in America (2003), a wide-ranging immigrant cultural history. The intensity of her research and the respect those books earned would have made them the highlights of a long career. But Chang was only 36 when she died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, leaving behind a husband and young son. In assembling this biography, Chang's mother is more interested in praising her daughter's accomplishments than contemplating her death, though there's no question the accomplishments are worthy of a full narrative. Chang's parents were both academic scientists, but at an early age she was attracted to literature instead; by the time she attended journalism school at the University of Illinois, she'd developed a hard-charging, hardworking persona that quickly opened doors for her. TheNew York Timesused her as a stringer but eventually told her to ease up on submitting articles, for fear it was acquiring too many central-Illinois datelines. The story is brightened by generous excerpts from Chang's letters to her parents, which reveal what a voracious reader, tireless researcher and attentive daughter she was. But this book is ultimately hagiography. As a grieving mother, she's forgiven such indulgences, but her instinct to reflexively praise frustrates in the closing chapters, in which she overlooks signs of her daughter's overwork and flatly blames antidepressants as the cause of Iris' rapid depression and suicide.
Nobody could expect objectivity from this book, but Chang's perspective on her daughter seems willfully narrow.
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Meet the Author
Ying-Ying Chang is the mother of Iris Chang. She has a PhD from Harvard in biochemistry and was a research associate professor of microbiology at University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign with her husband, Shau-Jin, a physics professor. She lives in San Jose, California and is on the board of the Iris Change Memorial Fund.
Richard Rhodes is the author or editor of twenty-three books including The Making of the Atomic Bomb, which won a Pulitzer Prize, a National Book Award, and a National Book Critics Circle Award; and Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb, which was shortlisted for a Pulitzer Prize. He lives in San Francisco.
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