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Finding Iris Chang: Friendship, Ambition, and the Loss of an Extraordinary…

de Paula Kamen

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804262,254 (3.5)15
A biography of the late Iris Chang by a long-time friend and confidante examines the life of the controversial author of "The Rape of Nanking," her decline into mental illness and paranoia, and her mysterious suicide at the age of thirty-six.

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Exibindo 4 de 4
Iris Chang became famous with The Rape of Nanking, and was researching a book about the Bataan Death March when she committed suicide at age 36. The suicide was planned in advance, and involved purchase of a gun and delivery of documents and photographs to libraries for posterity. Among the people she tried to contact by phone in the days preceding her death was Paula Kamen, who had been a friend since college. Unfortunately, a conversation with Iris was invariably intense and long, so Paula was not the only one who let the outreach go to voice mail, waiting for sufficient time. Iris Chang appeared to have it all: successful career, happy marriage, recent baby; she was immersed in harrowing subjects, but she had already been through one round, and emerged resilient and engaged in the political ramifications. So what happened? This book is Paula Kamen’s effort to piece together a complex person and the steps leading to suicide. It is arranged as a series of questions, an homage Iris and a reflection of the universal reaction to her suicide: what was going on behind the surface of competence and perfection? In a journalistic sense it covers the relevant information, collected from public sources, old letters, interviews with colleagues and friends and family (not, however, Iris Chang’s mother, who was also writing a book), evaluated with a filter of personal relationship (oh _that’s_ what it meant, oh _that’s_ what was going on). In an emotional sense, it can get a tad clinical, perhaps an intentional distancing for objectivity or protection or respect. Definitely recommended, but I want to read the book by Ying-Ying Chang for comparison.
1 vote qebo | Dec 14, 2014 |
I wanted to read this book because I read Iris Chang's The Rape of Nanking which inspired me to research the event further. Chang committed suicide in 2004 and this book by one of her friends investigates what events in her life led to this tragedy. A well-written, engrossing, and terribly sad story. ( )
  Sullywriter | Apr 3, 2013 |
Paula Kamen is shocked when Iris Chang commits suicide. Everyone thought she had the perfect life, but, like Chang, she didn't just stew in her grief. She researched everything about Chang in an attempt to find out what happened. She delves into Japanese atrocities compared with Nazi atrocities, bipolar disorder, infertility, the effect of fluctuating hormones on mood disorders, rates of Chinese depression and suicide, asperger's syndrome, friendship and ambition. There are revelations after revelations right up to the end. ( )
  Citizenjoyce | Dec 21, 2011 |
I really liked "The Rape of Nanking" and was shocked by the early death/suicide of Iris Chang. When I heard about this book I was quick to put a hold on it at the library.

The book is written by a friend of Iris' that needed to make sense of the suicide. She interviews as many of Iris' friends and family that will allow. There were conspiracy theories, thoughts that the Nanking content was too much and many other speculations flying around about WHY?

What the author finds is a sad story of a very driven and successful woman that is diagnosed with Bipolar disorder in her late 30's. The up side is that Iris was so popular and well known that her death has been responsible for bring mental illness out in the open in the Asian American community. As tragic as her death is, I find comfort in the good that is coming from it.

There are many interesting things you will find out about Iris by reading this book. I'm not going to give much of it away. The book is worth the read and if she is a favorite author it would be worth buying. ( )
  autumnesf | May 20, 2008 |
Exibindo 4 de 4
Finding Iris Chang is a valuable book because of its handling of mental illness in general, and specifically for its insight into mental illness in the Asian community...Kamen gives us a peek behind the curtain and reveals, hardly a humbug, but still a more real human being than we ever expected. It shows all the signs that everybody missed and reminds us that, tragic flaw or not, this was not inevitable. Finding Iris Chang reminds us how sad it was that Chang died young and at her own hand, but the book does not leave the reader devastated.
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A biography of the late Iris Chang by a long-time friend and confidante examines the life of the controversial author of "The Rape of Nanking," her decline into mental illness and paranoia, and her mysterious suicide at the age of thirty-six.

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