About Iris Chang
Iris Chang (張純如), before her untimely death, was one of America's leading young historians. Her last, widely-acclaimed book focused on Chinese immigrants and t heir descendents in the United States — their sacrifices, their achievements and their contributions to the fabric of American culture, an epic journey spanning more than 150 years. But even before the publication of "The Chinese in America: A Narrative History," Chang had established herself as an invaluable source of information about Asia, human rights, and Asian American history.
In her international bestseller, "The Rape of Nanking," Chang examined one of the most tragic chapters of World War II: the mass execution of soldiers and theslaughter, rape and torture oftens of tens of thousands of Chinese civilians by Japanese soldiers in the former capital of China. Stories about Chang's grandparents' harrowing escape were part of her family legacy and prompted her to embark on this ambitious project, for which she interviewed elderly survivors of the massacre and discovered thousands of rare documents in four different languages. Published by Basic Books on December 1997 (the 60th anniversary of the massacre) and in paperback by Penguin in 1998, "The Rape of Nanking" — the first, full-length English-language narrative of the atrocity to reach a wide audience — remained on the New York Times bestseller list for several months, became a New York Times Notable Book, and was cited by Bookman Review Syndicate as one of the best books of 1997.
Chang's first book, "Thread of the Silkworm," a critically acclaimed and engrossing study of how Cold War hysteria influenced American foreign policy, tells the ironic story of Dr. Tsien Hsue-shen (錢學森). Born in China, educated at M.I.T. and Cal Tech, Tsien became a professor at both universities and a brilliant space age pioneer. Then, after 15 years of extraordinary achievement and major contributions to American military defense, he was branded a Communist and deported to China — where he revolutionized the Chinese missile program and developed the Silkworm missile that later threatened American armed forces. The imprisonment of Tsien Hsue-shen during the height of the McCarthy era has been compared to U.S. mistreatment of Wen Ho Lee, a Los Alamos scientist accused of passing secret nuclear data to mainland China.
Iris Chang's many accolades include the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation's Program on Peace and International Cooperation Award, the Woman of the Year award from the Organization of Chinese Americans, and two honorary doctorates (the College of Wooster in Ohio, and California State University at Hayward). Chang has written for numerous publications, such as the New York Times, Newsweek and the Los Angeles Times, and has been featured by countless radio, television and print media, including Nightline, the Jim Lehrer News Hour, Charlie Rose, Good Morning America, C-Span's Booknotes, and the front cover of Reader's Digest. Chang also lectures frequently before business, university and other groups interested in human rights, World War II history, Cold War history, the Asian American experience, Sino-American relations, and the future of American civil liberties.
Iris Chang was born in Princeton, New Jersey, daughter of immigrant parents, Professors Shau-Jin(紹進) and Ying-Ying(盈盈) Chang and grew up in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, where she earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Illinois in 1989. She worked briefly as a reporter for the Associated Press and the Chicago Tribune before completing a graduate degree in writing from the Johns Hopkins University and launching her career as a full-time author and lecturer.
Iris Chang was married to Brett Douglas in 1991 and their son Christopher was born in 2002. Iris Chang died on November 9, 2004.