Ying-Ying Chang [張盈盈] – Author | Mother of Iris Chang [張純如]
 
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Iris Chang [張純如] – Author | Historian | Human Rights Activist

20161213 - Nanjing Massacre remembered in San Francisco
20160122 - John G. Magee family donation to Yale Divinity School Library
20151027 - Kinue Tokodome - Phoenix Weekly
20151010 - UNESCO 世界遺產
20150830 - 中華民國總統馬英九台北召見
20141213 - CCTV/JSBC Documentary on Nanjing Massacre (5 parts)
20141213 - 江蘇電視訪問張盈盈 南京大屠殺死難者國家公祭日
20141212 - 南京日報 - 不忘這段歷史,才有真正和平
20141109 - 張純如逝世十周年
20140903 - CCTV America Interview (English)
20140704 - ChinaDaily - USA
20140603 - 北京電台專訪
20131220 - 江蘇衛視專訪
20131204 - At the 76th anniversary of Nanking Massacre
20131110 - 著書獲獎 歸譽張純如
20130620 - a letter to "The Japan Times" in memory of Iris Chang, a woman I so greatly admire! - Sato
20130325 - 第四届中国传记文学优秀作品奖
20130123 - Where Are You From? : an Anthology of Asian American Writing
20121216 - 文茜的世界周報:
張純如 - 南京大屠殺 (youtube)

20121215 - CCTV interviews :
電視專訪張盈盈 - 環球聯播

20121127 - Tears of Nanking
by Gene Emerson (youtube)

20121113 - 誠品人物專訪張盈盈:
記住她用勇氣與熱情追求正義...

20121102 - 台灣中文版上市
張純如 - 無法遺忘歷史的女子

20120613 - The Chinese American Librarians Association : the Best Book List for 2011
20120608 - China CITIC Press 中信出版社
20120607 - 外滩画报 - 出版女兒的傳記是我最後的心願
20120605 - 新華網 : 張純如-美麗勇敢無法被歷史忘卻的女子
20120604 - 南京大屠殺作者張純如的父母講述女兒成長的心路歷程
20120530 - 騰訊網 - 張盈盈 :
張純如 - 無法忘卻歷史的女子

20120528 - 南京大學檔案館舉辦張純如展覽紀實
20120523 - 張純如的自殺 可能源自藥物
20120523 - 希望南京大屠殺歷史寫入美國教科書
20120522 - 中國應推動西方更多了解日軍侵華歷史子
20120520 - Global Times - The Power of One
20120502 - 中文版上市
張純如 - 無法忘卻歷史的女子

20120310 - The San Diego Union-Tribune
20120123 - 2012 APALA Asian/Pacific American Awards for Literature
20120118 - The Atlanic : The Nazi Leader Who, in 1937, Became the Oskar Schindler of China
20120109 - DingDing.TV
丁丁電視 : 繼續追尋張純如

20111202 - Portland, OR
KBOO Community Radio

20111201 - Los Altos Patch
Saturday Book Appearance

20111115 - Boston
真正的張純如

20111110 - San Francisco
為的是紀念她

20111104 - Maryland
憶不能遺忘的女兒

20111000 - CAF Review
Chinese American Forum Magazine

20111023 - KSFO 560 AM
The Barbara Simpson Show
& Gary Shapiro Bookshelf

20111019 - Univ. of Illinois
Chang honors daughter's life

20111018 - Indiana Daily Student - Mother reflects on daughter's life
20111003 - Radio Interview
The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour

20110826 - Hoover Institute
Stanford University

20110824 - Cupertino Patch
20110801 - Global Research : The Mysterious Deaths of Ernest Hemingway and Iris Chang
20110714 - Asia Times:
Like daughter, like mother

20110620 - Memories:
From a Mother's Eyes

20110619 - 父親節憶女甜苦難分
20110615 - 無語問蒼天:
張純如之死和抑鬱症

20110607 - A Writer
We Should Not Forget

20110606 - 活動照片集錦
座無虛席 感動落淚

20110602 - 寫女兒不平凡一生
20110601 - The Globe and Mail
20110531 - Vancouver Observer
20110529 - 母親著書紀念女兒
20110528 - Digital Journal - Dr. Chang discusses…
20110527 - 加拿大多倫多會書迷
20110527 - Misremembering...
20110527 - 披露女兒真實一生
20110527 - The Atlantic - Justice for Nanking Massacre
20110526 - 張盈盈新書 首刷售罄
20110526 - Writing With the Wind
20110525 - Wall Street Journal
20110525 - Pills linked to Death
20110525 - 化悲慟為力量
20110523 - 張盈盈與讀者對話
20110523 - 母親寫書療喪女之痛
20110522 - Museum of Chinese in America, New York
20110521 - Book Signing in NJ
20110519 - 張盈盈的啟示
20110518 - 卓絕愛女 風骨峭峻
20110515 - San Jose Mercury News : Mother's New Memoir
20110514 - Los Altos Patch
Behind the Scenes

20110513 - San Francisco Chronicle
20110508 - 祝福傷心媽媽
20110508 - World Journal Magazine - 母親節特別報導
20110400 - Open Road Media
20090406 - Mom's Dedication
20041119 - LIFE Magazine - Iris Chang Memorial
2003 - Chinese Americans : Political, Social, Economic, and Cultural History - Iris Chang
1997 - Johns Hopkins University Magazine - Nightmare in Nanking
Interview with Ying

The following interview is from the book
Where Are You From? : an Anthology of Asian American Writing :
http://www.amazon.com/Where-Are-You-From-Anthology/dp/1475084331

 

Interview with Ying-Ying Chang

by Larry Yu
 

The following interview with Ying-Ying Chang recounts her thoughts about the life, work, and tragic suicide of her daughter, Iris Chang, the renowned author of The Rape of Nanking and other works. After Iris's suicide in 2004, Ying-Ying embarked on a journey of recollection and healing that culminated in her memoir about Iris, The Woman Who Could Not Forget, which has garnered significant public recognition since its publication in 2011. Ying-Ying's words bear eloquent testimony to a mother's love for her daughter and the passion that Iris embodied in both life and death.

Larry Yu: Can you talk about the process of writing The Woman Who Could Not Forget and your thoughts in creating it?

Ying-Ying Chang: The Woman Who Could Not Forget is my memoir and also the biography of my daughter, Iris Chang. In 2004, when Iris died, I had already decided to write a memoir dedicated to her memory. I wanted people to know the true story of her life. The second reason: When Iris died, her son, Christopher, was only two years old, and he would never have been able to know his mother if I hadn't written a book about her life and work. Another reason is that there was much speculation about her death in the media that was not accurate. I wanted to set the record straight about her life.

Although I had written and published a number of scientific papers in my research career, I had never written or published a book before this one. English is my second language, and my Chinese is much better than my English. At the beginning, I could not decide whether to write the memoir in English or in Chinese. After judging the vast number of letters and emails Iris wrote to us over the years, which I intended to include in the memoir, I decided it was far better to write and publish the book in English. I wanted to publish Iris's letters and emails in the original.

Originally, I was hoping to have a professional writer coauthor the book, but I could not find one. I wrote the book without a ghost writer, and it took me almost 6 years. The first two years after Iris died, I was so sad I couldn't endure the pain of writing it. So, the first two years I devoted my time mainly to the activities of educating the younger generations (working with organizations such as Global Alliance for Preserving the History of World War II in Asia), but at the same time, I collected and categorized all the materials I could about her life and writing. From 2007 to 2009, I devoted one hundred percent of my time to writing the memoir. I did, however, hire a professional editor after I finished it. I'm very glad it worked out that way in the end.

I'm not a trained writer but a scientist, so I wrote the memoir and Iris's life in chronological order. As the writing progressed, I continued reading numerous letters and emails she had written to us - also her speeches. Her words inspired me very much and were the driving force that helped me complete the book.

LY: What was the most enjoyable aspect of writing or promoting your book? And what was the most difficult aspect of the book for you?

YC: The most enjoyable aspect of writing the book was describing her childhood and her reaching the goal of becoming a writer. Those lovely and joyful moments will never fade away in my memory. Of course, the most difficult moment was describing her death at the end. I devoted the last two chapters of the book to her death. Her breakdown and path to suicide occurred only in the last three months of her life. It's reassuring and relevant to keep in mind that in the 36 years of her short life, ninety-nine percent of that time was for Iris happy, exciting, and inspiring.

I traveled to a number of cities in North America in the past half year making speeches and signing books to promote my memoir. I was overwhelmed by the enthusiastic responses from audiences. Many people who came to my book events knew Iris Chang and her books and told me they admired and respected her. Those who did not know her told me that my book had given them a deep understanding of Iris - her inner thoughts, her compassion, conviction, and courage. It's been a very rewarding experience.

LY: What were the obstacles that Iris encountered in getting her book The Rape of Nanking published such as with Newsweek magazine in the U.S. and Kashiwashobo Press of Japan? And do you believe there was more political resistance from Japan or the United States in publishing The Rape of Nanking and raising popular awareness of the Nanking massacres in general?

YC: In chapters 13 and 15 of my book, I described the obstacles that Iris faced in getting the excerpt of her book The Rape of Nanking published in Newsweek and the Japanese translation of her book published by Kashiwashobo Press in Japan. In the case of Newsweek, the excerpt from her book was supposed to be published in the November 17, 1997 issue of the magazine, but it was delayed for two weeks. The delay was due to the fact that a number of Japanese companies pulled their advertisements from that issue of the magazine. The cancelation of Japanese advertisements from the magazine was the result of the rightwing forces in Japan wanting to keep Imperial Japan's massive war crimes hidden from the world and having the economic and political power to censor courageous writers like Iris. Essentially the same thing happened to the translation and publication of her book by Kashiwashobo Press. The Japanese right-wing groups exerted tremendous pressure on the publisher, including death threats, and succeeded in forcing Kashiwashobo Press to cancel the translation project. Finally, 10 years later, Iris's book was translated into Japanese and published in Japan.

Since the publication of the Nanking book, in spite of many excellent and positive reviews, there were still a few attacks. Iris felt that some academic "scholars" in Asian Studies programs in this country, particularly in Japanese Studies, might have been conspiring in a smear campaign to discredit her and her book - either out of jealousy or because their research funding came from Japanese sources. It's no secret that Japanese rightwing groups heavily finance the Japanese Studies and East Asian Studies programs in the U.S. and other countries. That financial support, however, generally has been disguised as research grants and awards. Consequently, publishing a book such as The Rape of Nanking could be very difficult for any academic institution whose funding comes mostly from Japan. Indeed, in his article "70 Years Later, Struggle for Nanking Massacre Justice Continues" in The Atlantic (May 26, 2011), Eamonn Fingleton stated, "Why the long silence in Western academies? Few East Asia specialists doubt what happened in the winter of 1937 to 38... . But the way that money flows in the East Asian studies field made such a book difficult to write. Nanking was, in a sense, a scholarly poisoned chalice. The East Asian field's funding comes overwhelmingly from corporations and foundations based in Japan and elsewhere in the region. Any scholar who broke the Nanking taboo would risk their funding."

LY: At the time of her death, Iris was working on a historical account of the Bataan Death March. Can you discuss the nature of this project and Iris's interest in this event?

YC: In 2004, Iris focused her research on a group of American World War II POWs in preparation for her next book. This was to be the story of the American 192nd Tank Battalion from the Midwestern states of Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, and Kentucky. The 192nd was deployed to the Philippines in 1941. They fought the Japanese and were subsequently captured by the Japanese Army. This tank battalion unit went through hell in the Philippines. There were some survivors, but many died from starvation, disease, and torture. In November 2003, Iris visited and interviewed several of the battalion survivors in those states. Later, she systematically interviewed and tape-recorded each one of them over the phone. This involved many hours of Q&A and was a long and tedious process. The stories of the surviving POWs were horrendous and excruciating beyond words. Iris said even her typist could not avoid weeping while she was transcribing the recorded tapes. This book project was certainly a dark subject and not good for her mental health, but Iris said she just could not turn her back on those veterans and let their stories be forgotten.

Right after the publication of The Rape of Nanking, we strongly suggested to Iris that she should not write about such a gruesome subject for her next book. At that point, she decided to write about the Chinese in America. As soon as we heard she was going to write the next book about the American POWs in the Philippines, we expressed our concern, but Iris said she could not forsake them.

LY: What lessons do you believe should be learned from Iris's tragic death, such as with respect to issues like the use of antidepressant medication or mental health in the Asian American community?

YC: In the Epilogue of my book, I attempted to analyze Iris's death. I concluded that her suicide was triggered by the antidepressants and anti-psychotic medications her doctors prescribed. Because I'm a biochemist, I did some investigation into the psychiatric drugs after she died. I was appalled to find out the serious potential side effects those drugs can have on mental patients. The most dangerous side effect is that patients can develop suicidal ideation and suicide preoccupation. I also found out that there are racial, ethnic, and gender differences in the response to psychiatric drugs. Asians seem to have a lower threshold for both the therapeutic and adverse effects of antipsychotic drugs than Caucasians.

Mental illness is a taboo in many Asian cultures. Iris's death has brought up the topic of mental health in the Asian American communities. We need to discuss mental health issues openly. In this respect, my book and the death of Iris serve as a warning to Asian communities in this country. I hope people can learn from the lesson of Iris's tragic death and hopefully my book can save other people's lives.

LY: There has been speculation in some quarters about the circumstances of Iris's suicide. Darrell Hamamoto's "Double Suicide: The Deaths of Ernest Hemingway and Iris Chang Reconsidered" (included in this anthology) is one perspective on her death. Can you offer your general opinion of Hamamoto's essay and the insinuations he makes?

YC: I have read Professor Hamamoto's article, "Double Suicide: The Death of Ernest Hemingway and Iris Chang Reconsidered," and found the article very interesting and intriguing. Professor Hamamoto made an in-depth analysis of the death of both Ernest Hemingway and Iris Chang and concluded that both suicides might be the result of political persecution. The article has opened my eyes to such "Cold War mind control experiments" and "physical control of the mind," which I find very intriguing. In 2008, a point of view similar to Hamamoto's was published by Counterpunch in an article "A Final Injustice. Whatever Happened to Iris Chang?" written by Eamonn Fingleton (December 12, 2008). In the article, Fingleton wrote, "in the name of good U.S.-Japan relations, the State Department has long been even more fanatically hostile than the Japanese establishment in slapping down the Bataan survivors' quest for justice. In essence Chang was poking a stick in the eyes of two of the world's most powerful governments at once."

In the Epilogue of my book, I also expressed my thoughts on the circumstances surrounding Iris's death in the last six months of her life. There are certainly many questions in my mind as well as in many other people's minds (who have written to me) that at the present time we just cannot answer. We may never be able to answer those questions surrounding her death. We have to be aware that nowadays the technology of intelligence and espionage is so sophisticated that it could not generally be detected by the average person. Professor Hamamoto wrote in his article that "Chang mustered the courage to end her life by a method so disturbing and sensational that questions concerning the circumstances leading to this final act of resistance will be asked far into the future." There are certainly more questions than answers in the case of Iris Chang's suicide.

LY: What do you think should be the legacy of your daughter in terms of her life and work in general?

YC: The legacy of Iris Chang should be how she lived rather than how she died. People should remember what she accomplished in her life. Her book, The Rape of Nanking, exposed the forgotten holocaust of WWII, forever changing the way we view that terrible and tragic war in Asia. She was not only a writer and historian, but also a human rights activist. She "wanted to rescue those victims from oblivion, to give a voice to the voiceless." Iris inspired many, many people globally by her inner passion, dedication, and determination to preserve historical truth and to seek justice for the millions of victims. Iris was a woman whose heart beat passionately for those who suffered. She was a woman who would not, and could not, forget their agony, and she refused to let their stories go untold.

Iris believed in "The Power of One." She believed "One person can make an enormous difference in the world." She said, "One person - actually, one IDEA -  can start a war, or end one, or subvert an entire power structure. One discovery can cure a disease or spawn new technology to benefit or annihilate the human race. You as ONE individual can change millions of lives. Think big. Do not limit your vision and do not EVER compromise your dreams or ideals." She followed her own advice, lived her convictions, and her work as a writer and historian has preserved the truth of history and awakened the conscience of the world.

Iris's life was short, but she left a legacy of a life full of courage and conviction, and a life's work that will continue to illuminate and inspire.


Larry Yu is the communications coordinator for the Thymos organization of Oregon. He is also a regular contributor to the Seattlebased International Examiner newspaper and has published work in New America Media, Dissident Voice, Amerasia Journal, Journal of Asian American Studies, and the API Movement blog. Larry teaches in the Ethnic Studies Department at Oregon State University and has a Ph.D. in English from Brown University. His interests include Asian American media, film, and radical politics.

Ying-Ying Chang was born in China's wartime capital, Chungking, in 1940 and moved to Taiwan with her parents to escape from the Communists during the 1949 civil war. She grew up on the island and graduated from National Taiwan University in 1962. Ying-Ying came to the U.S. for graduate studies and received her Ph. D. in biological chemistry from Harvard University in 1967. She married Dr. Shau-Jin Chang, a Harvard physicist, in 1964.

In 1969, Ying-Ying and her husband started a teaching and research career spanning more than three decades at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. When they retired in 2002, they moved to San Jose, California.

After their daughter Iris Chang's untimely death in 2004, Ying-Ying and her husband channeled their energy into the preservation of the history of World War II in Asia. In the past several years, Ying-Ying and Shau-Jin have been invited by numerous groups and organizations in North America and China to speak and take part in activities related to their daughter's work and the Sino-Japanese war history.