by Eric J Baker
As a voracious reader, I crank through about a book per week. I long ago ran out of shelf space, lately cramming my little rectangular accomplishments in whatever pocket of air I can find. Often, as I shuffle the old ones to make room, I realize I have forgotten their contents. Perhaps I enjoyed those stories in the moment, but it takes a special book to stick with me for more than a few months. Rarer still is one I can’t forget.
In early 1998, an author I’d never heard of was on television discussing her then freshly published chronicle of a shocking event that occurred in China in 1937 yet had remained unfamiliar to most westerners, including me. Rather than being a dusty old college professor, though, the person on my TV screen was a young, fiery, attractive, and visibly pissed off Chinese-American woman. Her name was Iris Chang, and her book, The Rape of Nanking, told the story of a genocide so brutal that it rivaled acts perpetrated by the Nazis and the Khmer Rouge.