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Rape of Nanking author Iris Chang's memories live on in new biography

Photo from The Woman Who Could Not Forget
The world lost a brilliant historian and journalist on November 9, 2004 when a self-inflicted gunshot took the life of a young American writer, Iris Chang, author of the New York Times best-seller, The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of WWII.  To her mother, Dr. Ying-Ying Chang, a Harvard trained research scientist, the death of Iris has made her question about the meaning of her own existence. She searches for answers by documenting her memories of Iris in a new book, The Woman Who Could Not Forget: Iris Chang Before and Beyond The Rape of Nanking.  Ying-Ying Chang  will be in Vancouver from June 1 to 5, 2011 to talk about her book and the significance of the belief in “Power of One” in Iris Chang’s work.

The Woman Who Could Not Forget tells the story of Iris Chang from her childhood to her pursuit of becoming a well-known writer and journalist and finally, to her lost battle with mental illness. It chronicles the experiences of an immigrant family in America, a woman’s choice between her career and her family, a writer's aspiration to give the voiceless a voice, and the events that took place a few months before her death. The Woman Who Could Not Forget cements Iris Chang’s 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.

Iris Chang was the author of Thread of the Silkworm (1995), The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II  (1997) and The Chinese in America (2003). The Rape of Nanking forever changed the way the world views the Second World War. It examines one of history's most brutal massacres: the slaughter, gang rape and torture of hundreds of thousands of Chinese civilians by the Japanese Imperial Army in the former capital of China, Nanking, in 1937.  The discovery of John Rabe's diary was one of her most important contributions to this part of the history. 

“Iris Chang was a history hero. She discovered, researched and told a story of horror that otherwise would have been unknown and ignored by the world. And she lived a life that was shortened by her own horrors which her mother, Ying-Ying Chang, has chronicled in a caring and graceful memoir that also deserves wide attention,” said Jim Lehrer, host of PBS Newshour. He called The Woman Who Could Not Forget “a moving, superb book”.

Richard Rhodes, Pulitzer Prize winner and author of The Making of the Atomic Bomb, writes in the introduction: "In this brave memoir you will share in the celebration of a life, allowing us to experience her presence again.  Full of courage and conviction, full of life."

"Iris gives me so much," says Ying-Ying. "She inspires me."  With this gratitude, Ying-Ying and her husband, Dr. Shau-Jin Chang, have begun their North American tour to promote The Woman Who Could Not Forget.

Vancouver will be Chang’s third Canadian city to launch her book after Toronto and Edmonton. The following events in Vancouver are organized by BC ALPHA (Association for Learning and Preserving History of WWII in Asia), a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the awareness of the crimes against humanity committed during WWII in Asia through various educational initiatives.  Media are welcome to the following events:

DIALOGUE WITH STUDENTS: Global Citizenship and Youth

10AM            Thursday June 2, 2011

North Delta Secondary School (11447 82nd Avenue, Delta)

3PM                Thursday June 2, 2011

Vancouver Technical Secondary School (2600 East Broadway, Vancouver)

Dr. Ying-Ying Chang will meet high school students from North Delta Secondary and Vancouver Technical Secondary to talk about the “Power of One” using Iris Chang’s inspiration and dedication to illustrate how “one person can make an enormous difference in the person – actually one IDEA – can start a war, or end one, or subvert an entire power structure.”


2PM                Sunday June 5, 2011

Alice Mackay Room, Central Branch, Vancouver Public Library (350 West. Georgia Street, Vancouver)


Facilitator: Ms. Susan Ruzic, President of the British Columbia Teachers for Peace and Global Education, a Provincial Specialist Association of the BC Teachers' Federation

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