Added: October 25, 2008 – Last updated: October 7, 2017


Author: Masahiro Yamamoto

Title: Nanking

Subtitle: Anatomy of an Atrocity

Place: Westport, CT, and London

Publisher: Praeger Publishers

Year: 2000

Pages: xv + 352pp.

ISBN-10: 0275969045 – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat

Language: English

Keywords: Modern History: 20th Century | Asian History: Chinese History, Japanese History | Cases: Offenders / Hisao Tani; Prosecution: Trials / Nanjing War Crimes Tribunal; Types: Wartime Sexual Violence / Second Sino-Japanese War



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  Illustrations (p. ix)
  Acknowledgments (p. xi)
  Abbreviations (p. xiii)
  Introduction (p. 1)
  1 What Causes War Atrocities: A Historical Analysis (p. 9)
    History of War Atrocities (p. 10)
    Atrocities in Asia (p. 20)
  2 The Battle of Shanghai and the Prelude to Nanking (p. 38)
    The Outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War and the Battle of Shanghai (p. 38)
    Japanaese Army's March to Nanking (p. 51)
    Fall of Nanking (p. 61)
  3 Nanking: Analysis of Military Actions and Number of Victims (p. 81)
    Casualties for which the Chinese Forces Were Responsible (p. 83)
    Combat Casualties (p. 84)
    Execution of Plainclothes Soldiers, POWs, and Men of Conscription Age (p. 90)
    Total Number of Victims (p. 109)
  4 Nanking: Analysis of Individually Committed Crimes and Nature of Atricities (p. 128)
    Crimes Individually Committed (p. 128)
    Nature and Causes of Atrocities in Nanking (p. 138)
  5 Aftermath and Reaction Until 1945 (p. 158)
    Japan (p. 158)
    China (p. 166)
    The West (Especially the United States) (p. 169)
  6 War Crimes Trials (p. 190)
    Chinese Preparations for War Crimes Trials (p. 190)
    Trial of Tani Hisao (p. 194)
    Trial of Three Officers – Mukai, Noda, and Tanaka (p. 196)
    Tokyo War Crimes Trial (p. 199)
  7 Sounds of Controversy (p. 234)
    Start of Renewal of Controversy (p. 235)
    Critical Review and Analysis of Revisionist Views (p. 239)
    Critical Review and Analysis of Traditionalist Views (p. 246)
    The Emergence of Centrist Views and the Balance Sheet of the Debate (p. 251)
    Recent Chinese and Western Views (p. 258)
    Nanking and the Holocaust: Historiographical Analysis (p. 262)
    Summary of the Rape of Nanking debate. Analogy with a court of law (p. 270)
  Conclusion (p. 282)
  Appendix A: Japanese and Chinese Forces in Nanking (p. 291)
  Appendix B: Burial Statistics of Red Swastika Society in Nanking (p. 295)
  Appendix C: Buria Records of Ch'ung-shan-t'ang (p. 299)
  Appendix D: Civilian Losses Based on Smythe's Data (p. 303)
  Bibliography (p. 307)
  Index (p. 345)

Description: »The December 1937 incident that has come to be known as the Rape of Nanking is, without doubt, a tragedy that will not soon be forgotten. While acknowledging that a tremendous loss of life occurred, this study challenges the current prevailing notion that the incident was a deliberate, planned effort on the part of the Japanese military and analyzes events to produce an accurate estimate of the scale of the atrocities. Drawing on Chinese, Japanese, and English sources, Yamamoto determines that what happened at Nanking were unfortunate atrocities of conventional war with precedents in both Eastern and Western military history. He concludes that post-war events such as the war crimes trials and the impact of the Holocaust in Europe affected public opinion regarding Nanking and led to a dramatic reinterpretation of events.
The Rape of Nanking consisted of two distinct phases: the mass execution of prisoners of war (as well as conscription age men who appeared to be combatants) and the delinquent acts of individual soldiers. The first phase, which occurred immediately after Nanking's fall and which claimed most of the atrocity victims, was the result of the Japanese military's attempt to clear the city of Chinese soldiers thought to be in plain clothes. The second phase, which lasted approximately six weeks, was horrible, but resulted in a much smaller number of fatalities. It was characterized by numerous criminal acts, ranging from rape and murder to arson and theft, committed by unrestrained Japanese soldiers. The root cause for both phases was the Japanese military's bureaucratic inefficiency and command irresponsibility. While both Chinese and American contemporary sources initially attributed the incident to these causes, subsequent Japanese atrocities against both military and civilian Allied personnel during World War II and evidence presented at war crimes trials would come to reshape perceptions of the Nanking events as an Asian counterpart to the Nazi Holocaust.« (Source: Praeger)


– Barrett, David P. Canadian Journal of History - Annales canadiennes d'histoire 38(1) (April 2003): 169-170. – Full Text: University of Toronto Press (Restricted Access)

– Fogel, Joshua A. The Journal of Asian Studies 60(2) (May 2001): 518-520. – Full Text: Cambridge University Press (Restricted Access), JSTOR (Restricted Access)

– Matsusaka, Yoshihisa T. The American Historical Review 107(2) (April 2002): 525-526. – Full Text: JSTOR (Restricted Access), Oxford University Press (Restricted Access)

– Mosher, John. History: Reviews of New Books 29(1) (2000): 41. – Full Text: Taylor & Francis Online (Restricted Access)

Wikipedia: History of Asia: History of China / History of the Republic of China | History of Asia: History of Japan / Shōwa period | Sex and the law: Wartime sexual violence | War: Second Sino-Japanese War | War crime: Japanese war crimes / Nanking Massacre | War crime: War crimes trial / Nanjing War Crimes Tribunal, Hisao Tani