Monday, March 22, 2010

Finding Iris Chang by Paula Kamen

Iris Chang was the author of The Rape of Nanking, a book that caused a huge stir when it came out back in the late 1990's. The Rape of Nanking detailed the atrocities committed by the Japanese during their occupation of the Chinese city of Nanking during the early part of World War II. The incidents at Nanking are partly the cause of the continuing tension between Japan and China. Chang was a dedicated journalist who spent years researching the gruesome events and advocating for the Chinese survivors of Nanking. I considered reading The Rape of Nanking when it came out, but to be honest I was a little fearful that it might be more history than I could stomach.

I did follow Iris Chang's career, though. She continued to write about Asia and about Asians in the U.S. and was greatly respected in journalistic circles and among readers of nonfiction. I was shocked by her death a few years ago, which turned out to be a suicide. Now Paula Kamen, Chang's friend from college, has written a biography of Chang that presents a balanced portrait of Iris's complex personality and relationships, and reveals the mental illness that preceded her suicide.

Here is an excellent post about this book on the blog Each Little World.

(Book 15, 2010)


LINDA from Each Little World said...

Thanks for the mention. Really tragic story and shows how mental health concerns are still shrouded in secrecy. It could have had a very different ending if Iris had been able to share her troubles.

Levinson Axelrod said...

Very interesting story about Iris Chang. Didn't know much about the author, but her story sounds very intriguing.

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