News & opinion on Greater China and the even Greater Beyond: by Biff Cappuccino.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Letter to
Re: "Nanjing Massacre Claims Another Life": I must say I quite enjoyed Victor Fic's statement that: "None other than luminary historian Stephen Ambrose deemed [Iris] Chang one of America's most promising young historians." For those of us who actually read history, Stephen Ambrose is most famous for being caught out after 30 years of serial plagiarism. A google search of his name will produce interesting articles on the matter from,,, etc. Then again, given Iris Chang's own bent for plagiarism, it's only appropriate that Ambrose would be quoted lavishing her with praise. Honor among thieves. For example, the second paragraph from page four in Iris Chang's Introduction appears stolen from a Chinese Communist Party document, given its stale Communist epithets (beneath the boot of...), it's hyperbole ("unmitigated evil lying") and the chauvinist Communist Chinese perspective as in "some foreigners witnessed the horror". It would appear that she was in too much of a rush to either accredit her source or touch up her translator's English. Probably both. And an amateur historian in Japan, Timothy M. Kelly, has a lengthy review including a 2000 word section where he cites instance after instance claiming that Iris Chang stole extensively from David Bergamini's Japan's Imperial Conspiracy. Do a search and you can decide for yourself whether his claims are credible. Either way, there are far more worthy books around on the subject such as The Good Man of Nanking: The Diaries of John Rabe and Masahiro Yamamoto's Rape of Nanking: Separating Fact from Fiction. In my view, atrocities certainly did occur but neither on the scale nor of the best-selling variety that Iris Chang proposed. In the end, like Pearl Buck before her, she was just another hustling messiah of the downtrodden making a good living pulling the public's nose.
Biff Cappuccino, Taipei

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