Finding Iris Chang: Friendship, Ambition, and the Loss of an Extraordinary Mind

Finding Iris Chang: Friendship, Ambition, and the Loss of an Extraordinary Mind

by Paula Kamen

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Iris Chang's mysterious suicide in 2004, at age thirty-six, didn't seem to make any sense. She had more to live for than anyone, including fame, fortune, beauty, a husband, and child. Some even wondered if the controversial author of the Rape of Nanking had been murdered. Long-time friend Paula Kamen was among those left wondering what had gone so wrong. Seeking to reconcile the suicide with the image of Chang's “perfect” life, Kamen searched her own memory and scoured Chang's letters, diaries, and archival material to fill in the gaps of Chang's personal transformation-from awkward teen to homecoming princess in college, from “ex-shy person” to world-class speaker and international human rights pioneer-and later decline into mental illness and paranoia. A literary investigation of an important writer's journey, Finding Iris is a tribute to a lost heroine, a portrait of the real and vulnerable woman who inspired so many around the world.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780306817250
Publisher: Hachette Books
Publication date: 12/10/2007
Sold by: Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 304
File size: 350 KB

About the Author

Paula Kamen is the author of All in My Head: An Epic Quest to Cure an Unrelenting, Totally Unreasonable, and Only Slightly Enlightening Headache. Her commentaries have appeared in the New York Times and the Washington Post, among other publications. She lives in Chicago.

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Questions vii

Chapter 1 What Did They Say Happened to Iris? 1

Chapter 2 What Did She Symbolize? 33

Chapter 3 Were There Earlier Signs? 61

Chapter 4 Why in the World Did She Run for Homecoming Court? 81

Chapter 5 Who Inspired Her? 109

Chapter 6 What Did She Tell Me, as a Primary Source? 137

Chapter 7 What Did Her Friends Observe in Those Last Years? 153

Chapter 8 What Happened in California? 171

Chapter 9 What Were Her Demons? 201

Chapter 10 Just Because You're Paranoid, Does That Mean They Still Aren't Out to Get You? 227

Afterword: Who Were the Villains? 265

Acknowledgments 279

What People are Saying About This

Molly Worthen

"Part biography, part detective story, part memoir of a thorny but enduring friendship, this book takes us to the heart of Iris Chang's tragic life. Paula Kamen writes with astute psychological insight, the intuition of a close friend--and with the determination of an investigative reporter resolved to get to the bottom of a death as baffling as it is heartbreaking."--(Molly Worthen, author of The Man on Whom Nothing Was Lost)

James Bradley

"Iris Chang inspired many, including me. Now Iris's life has inspired her friend Paula Kamen to write a tender remembrance of a great woman."--(James Bradley, author Flags of Our Fathers and Flyboys)

Helen Zia

"Journalist Paula Kamen leaves no clue unturned in this riveting narrative that is part detective story, part psychological drama, part homage to a friend, as she peels back the complexities of Iris Chang's life and death-revealing the obsessions, frailties, significance, and, ultimately, the humanity of this legendary Chinese American woman warrior."--(Helen Zia, author of Asian American Dreams: The Emergence of an American People)

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Finding Iris Chang: Friendship, Ambition, and the Loss of an Extraordinary Mind 2.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
autumnesf on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really liked "The Rape of Nanking" and was shocked by the early death/suicide of Iris Chang. When I heard about this book I was quick to put a hold on it at the library. The book is written by a friend of Iris' that needed to make sense of the suicide. She interviews as many of Iris' friends and family that will allow. There were conspiracy theories, thoughts that the Nanking content was too much and many other speculations flying around about WHY? What the author finds is a sad story of a very driven and successful woman that is diagnosed with Bipolar disorder in her late 30's. The up side is that Iris was so popular and well known that her death has been responsible for bring mental illness out in the open in the Asian American community. As tragic as her death is, I find comfort in the good that is coming from it. There are many interesting things you will find out about Iris by reading this book. I'm not going to give much of it away. The book is worth the read and if she is a favorite author it would be worth buying.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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