The Rape of
by Iris Chang
Japanese soldier uses bayonet to kill Chinese civilian
who has been tied to a pole, Nanking, 1937.
If you live near Rockport, and you are interested in our world and what is going on, and what has been going on, come join us for a meeting of the History Book Club.
Read a book about Israel and Palestine in the 20th and 21st Centuries, or one about any aspect of
Israel and the Israelis, or anything about Palestine and the
Palestinians. Read about efforts to
bring Palestinians and Israelis together, or about the wars between Israel and their Arab neighbors… about Gaza or the Six Days’
War, or Hezbollah, Fatah or Hamas.
On Wednesday, February 27th we’ll meet at the Rockport Library and discuss what we’ve read. 7 p.m., in the Trustees’ Room.
Perhaps you have personal experience in the region. Come and join the discussion!
In March, we’ll read a book of our individual choices about
Mexico or Central America
from 1900 to 2013. You pick the
book, read it and come and join the discussion, Wednesday, March 27th.
In April, we’ll read about
Africa, from 1900 to 2013. Any subject—the independence movement of the
1960s, Rwanda, the Congo, Zimbabwe and Mugabe, South Africa and Mandela,
Idi Amin and Uganda, Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, Chad, Niger, Burkina Faso,
Angola, Tunisia, Algeria ---- your
choice! We’ll meet April 24th.
In May we’re looking at BRIC-- four big, powerful countries all in a similar stage of advanced economic development:
Russia, India and . We’ll meet May 29th. China
We had a great discussion at our meeting this week. Our topic was
in the 20th
Dick Verrengia reported on the life of Richard Baum.
Unless you live there, and speak perfect Chinese, it’s hard to understand
China, but we gain great insight
from people like Richard Baum, who had dedicated his life to being a “China
This illuminating memoir reflects on 40 years of learning about the People's Republic of
China through China watching,
the process by which outsiders gather and decipher official and unofficial
information to figure out what's really going on.
Dick Verrengia gave us a tremendous bonus, and it’s the kind of thing that makes our meetings so interesting.
At the end of World War II,
defeated, and the United
States and its allies were the victors. However, there were still some 1 million
Chinese soldiers all over China,
and the United States
military had the job of making sure they evacuated rapidly. Our job was made much more difficult because
the Nationalists (Kuomintang, under Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek) and the
Communists (People’s Liberation Army, under Mao Tse-Dung) were fighting their
own war. All during World War II they’d
been fighting each other as well as the Japanese.
Dick Verrengia was a young Marine, part of the First Marine Division, sent to
North China. It
became a Marine regiment sent to protect the Chinese rail lines, carrying coal
and the coast. Shipping millions of tons
of coal was vital for the millions of
shivering Chinese in that first winter after World War II ended. Young Dick found himself as a train guard,
riding trains loaded with coal. A lot of
his time was spent in the city of Qinhuangdao a port city
in northeastern Hebei .
It is about 300 km east of province of North China Beijing, on the Bohai Sea,
the innermost gulf of the Yellow Sea. Its
population in 1945 was some 300,000, but now (2010) it is 2,987,605.
Dick related how one day a quarter of a million Chinese communist troops came marching in, led by a fat Chinese general in a fur coat, riding in a Packard open-top sedan.
The general demanded that the Americans leave at once. Dick’s commanding officer, a Lieutenant Colonel who was drunk most of the time, speaking through an interpreter, demanded that the Chinese leave or his Marines (some 150) would drive them (some 250.000) out.
Cooler heads prevailed, however, and the American Marines evacuated.
Next, Beverly Verrengia reported on The Party: The Secret World of China's Communist Rulers by Richard McGregor. HarperCollins, Jun 8, 2010 - History - 336 pages.
This is an investigation into
Communist Party and its integral role in the country's rise as a global
superpower and rival of the . United
In The Party, Richard McGregor delves deeply into
's inner sanctum, showing how
the Communist Party controls the government, courts, media, and military, and
how it keeps all corruption accusations against its members in-house. The
Party's decisions have a global impact, yet the CPC remains a deeply secretive
body, hostile to the law, unaccountable to anyone or anything other than its
own internal tribunals. Richard McGregor offers a captivating portrait of China China's Communist Party, its grip on power and
control over ,
and its future. China
Next, Rick Heuser reported on
The search for modern China by Jonathan D. Spence. Norton, 1991 - 876 pages.
In this widely acclaimed history of modern
, Jonathan Spence achieves a
fine blend of narrative richness and efficiency. Praised as "a miracle of
readability and scholarly authority," (Jonathan Mirsky) The Search for
Modern China offers a matchless introduction to China 's history. China
Next, it was my turn.
Chang, Iris, The Rape of
Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of
World War II. 1997. :
Basic Books. 290 pp. New York, NY
My family and I lived for three years in
. Actually, we lived in the home that had
once been occupied by the commander of the Imperial Japanese naval base in a
city near Japan Nagasaki. I never, not one time, ever caught even a tiny
glimpse of the characteristic of the Japanese military that led them to do the
horrible things that they did countless times during World War II.
The Rape of Nanking is the story of how the Japanese army in December 1937 systematically raped hundreds of thousands of women, then killed them; in mass killings they murdered men, women and children, shooting them, bayoneting them, whacking off their heads by sword, then dumped hundreds of thousands of corpses into the Yangtze river, until the river ran red with their blood.
The author of this book, Iris Chang, was a young Chinese American woman, and she received many awards for this book, and for others she wrote. Her grandparents barely escaped death in
This book appears to be well researched. She went through hundreds of drawers of files to find the story of how the Imperial Japanese Army attacked
then marched overland to seize the capital city of Nanking
( Nanjing). The Japanese Army promised Chinese army
troops humane treatment, then bound their hands, and marched them off to be
machine-gunned and bayoneted, hundreds at a time. This horror took place over six weeks in the
city of Nanking. The Japanese murdered some 300,000 civilians
during this time.
The Japanese Army committed atrocities in many other places in their invasion of
China. They are quoted in numerous records of saying
that they did not look upon the Chinese as humans, but rather like pigs, “except
you could eat pigs.”
Ms. Chang writes about a few Americans and Europeans living in
who were responsible for creating a safety zone in the city that saved hundreds
of thousands. One particularly helpful person was a German named John
Rabe. He was a member of the Nazi party,
and used his swastika armband to intervene when Japanese were about to kill
Chinese. While the Japanese sometimes
ignored the pleas of other foreigners, the sight of that Nazi armband usually
did the trick. Ms. Chang called him the
“Oskar Schindler of Nanking.” (Schindler was
the Nazi who saved some 100,000 Jews from the Holocaust in Europe.) She tells stories of an American woman,
Minnie Vautrin, and a Nanking-born American surgeon named Robert Wilson, who
risked their lives countless times to save many thousands of Chinese.
Ms. Chang writes about “A Second Rape” in noting how American schoolchildren learn about Hitler’s gas chambers, about the diary of Ann Frank, and about our bombing of
Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but
they know nothing about Nanking in 1937. In Japan,
there is a “soothing perception” of history that either ignores the Japanese
massacre at Nanking, or puts a decidedly
Japanese spin on the actions of the military. Japanese ultranationalists have
threatened everything from lawsuits to death, even assassination, to opponents
who suggest that these textbooks are not telling the next generation the real
story. And it is not just the
ultranationalists in Japan
who have tried to airbrush this part of their history.
In her epilogue, Ms. Chang sets down three lessons from
1. Civilization itself is tissue-thin.
behavior during World War II was less a product of dangerous people than of a
dangerous government. The Japanese Army
for years had created a Samurai culture of unspeakable cruelty to each other,
2. The role of power in genocide. Those who have studied the patterns of large-scale killings throughout history have noted that the sheer concentration of power in government is lethal.
3. The third lesson, one that is perhaps most distressing of all, lies in the frightening ease with which the mind can accept genocide, turning us all into passive spectators to the unthinkable. The Rape of Nanking was front-page news across the world, and yet most of the world stood by and did nothing while an entire city was butchered. The international response to Nanking was eerily akin to the more recent response to the atrocities in Bosnia-Herzegovina and
Rwanda. And, since publication of this book, the
massive killing now in Syria.
Ms. Chang’s book has received harsh criticism from some quarters, particularly in suggesting that the Japanese have tried to soft pedal or suppress this part of their history. She was hounded and criticized harshly, and became very depressed.
In November, 2004 Iris Chang took her own life… perhaps one more victim of The Rape of Nanking.
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North Atlantic Patrol, The Log of a Seagoing Artist by Coale, Griffith Baily, Lieutenant Commander, USNR 1943 New York, NY: Farrar & Rinehart, Inc. 51 pp. 19 x 27 cm. Designated as one of four combat artists commissioned by the U.S. Navy in 1941, LCDR Coale made the fateful North Atlantic Patrol that ended in the sinking of USS Reuben James on Oct. 31, 1941. Coale's book describes, in words and his black and white drawings, life on patrol, in ports, and especially the rescue of 44 members of the Reuben James. Woody Guthrie wrote a song about the Reuben James sinking that became a patriotic rallying cry during World War II. Decorated cloth on board, clean, text block clean, but dust jacket fastened to back cover by adhesive at top. Book is good, nonetheless, but dustjacket is in two pieces and poor. (5801) $24.00. Navy/World War II
Early Starrs in Kent & New England (With Starr Family Association booklet, 1937) by Ballou, Hosea Starr 1944 Boston, MA: Starr Family Association. 141 pp. + 8 pp. 15.5 x 23.2 cm. Compilation of a series of articles on the forbears of the Starr family in the U.S. and England, together with an 8-page Starr Family Association booklet published in 1937. Includes articles on English Ancestry, Early Life in
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Enigmas of Life by W.R. Greg Greg, William Rathbone 1873
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Looking Backward 2000-1887 by Edward Bellamy 1889
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