November 11, 2004


'The Rape of Nanking' author is found dead (Jessie Mangaliman, Cecilia Kang and Chuck Carroll, 11/11/04, San Jose Mercury News)

Iris Chang, the bestselling Bay Area author whose book on Japanese atrocities in China during World War II catapulted her to fame and prominence, was found dead from an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound. She was 36.

Chang drove down a road south of Los Gatos and shot herself in her car, authorities said.

Santa Clara County sheriff's Deputy Terrance Helm said a motorist driving Tuesday morning on Highway 17 south of the Cats restaurant in an unincorporated area near Los Gatos noticed a car a short distance down a private water district road. He pulled over to check on the vehicle and called 911.

Investigators found a frontier-type six-gun and a note in the car, according to sources with knowledge of the case.

The official cause of death was pending.

Chang suffered a breakdown and was hospitalized during a recent trip researching her fourth book about U.S. soldiers who fought the Japanese in the Philippines during World War II, her former editor and agent Susan Rabiner told the Associated Press.

Her book, The Rape opf Nanking, is terrific.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 11, 2004 12:42 PM

Oh man - she's a long ago friend of mine. I helped her get her first journalism internship. I lost track of her when she got married and moved to CA. What a small, yet sad world.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at November 11, 2004 1:18 PM

Yes, terrific. Even more interesting, though, was the book relating the Japanese response to it.

Dangerous work, I think, getting immersed in research like hers.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at November 11, 2004 1:26 PM

"Official cause of death is pending."?

I'm all for following procedures, but this reminds me of the people complaining thatproper forensic techniques aren't being used to excavate mass graves in Iraq, making prosecutions impossible...

Posted by: mike earl at November 11, 2004 1:41 PM

AOG --

I'm sorry.

Posted by: Eugene S. at November 11, 2004 1:43 PM

I feel devastated by this. I never knew her, but I read her stuff voraciously and enjoyed her when she was on booknotes. She was one of the people who reawakened my nascent interest in history. I lack the capacity with words to express my grief. Except perhaps to say, "God, what a pisser." It doesn't do her justice, but it's the best I've got right now.

Posted by: Governor Breck at November 11, 2004 2:05 PM

I tried to read the book, but I couldn't finish. It was too depressing and horrifying. It's the only book that has ever had that effect on me.

Posted by: Brandon at November 11, 2004 4:29 PM


I assume you mean dangerous from the perspective of self-inflicted psychological wounds. The Canadian general who commanded UN troops in Rwanda freaked out afterwards and became a sort of poster boy for PTSD and darling of the progressive talk circuit. A very bright and talented young woman set out to do his biography and the story of Rwanda in exhaustive and professional detail. She committed suicide half way through.

Sorry, AOG.

Posted by: Peter B at November 11, 2004 6:18 PM


Posted by: Harry Eagar at November 11, 2004 10:23 PM