NYS Writers Institute, April 14, 2004
Chang’s new book is The Chinese in America a major new history spanning 150 years of Chinese immigration and settlement in this country. More than 500 pages in length, and written for the general reader, Chang’s book chronicles the many achievements of Chinese Americans, their contributions to the building of the infrastructure of the American West, their role in numerous scientific and technical advances, their impact on popular culture, and their struggle for civil rights and acceptance.
"an exemplary achievement… A thought-provoking overview of how the Chinese have been an integral part of American history." - Christian Science Monitor
Chang’s earlier book, The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II, was the first full account in English of a major war crime perpetrated by Japanese troops against Chinese residents of the city of Nanking during the course of an eight week period in 1937. More than 300,000 Chinese civilians were tortured and killed, and more than 80,000 women were raped.
The book was a surprise bestseller, selling more than a quarter million copies in paperback, and was widely discussed in both print and television media.
"[the book] has created its own cottage industry. Plans are under way to use the book, which is scheduled for paperback release by Penguin-Viking this fall, as raw material for a film in Hollywood, a musical in Singapore and a museum in Los Angeles. Poets, painters and songwriters in several countries have also been moved by her detailed accounts of Japanese brutality to create works of art commemorating Nanking’s suffering." - James Dao, The New York Times in 1998
The book provoked controversy when the Japanese Ambassador to the United States, Kunihiko Saito, condemned it as contrary to truth. The Chinese Embassy in Washington later attacked Saito’s charges. A Japanese translation of the book was held up by demands for changes and supplementary notes that the author refused to provide. The Japanese publisher, Kashiwa Shobo, ultimately terminated the publication contract in 1999.
The Rape of Nanking earned Chang the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Peace and International Cooperation Award. In 1998, she was named "Woman of the Year" by the Organization of Chinese American Woman.
Chang’s first book was Thread of the Silkworm (1995), a biography of Tsien Hsue-shen, the father of China’s space and missile programs. Tsien emigrated to the U.S. in the 1930s and received a Ph.D. at Caltech, where he made major contributions to aeronautics and rocketry. Though he applied to become an American citizen, he was deported in the 1950s because of suspected Communist sympathies. The U.S. government’s handling of Tsien is now regarded by many historians as one of the greatest strategic blunders of the 20th century.
For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.