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Undaunted Women of Nanking

Undaunted Women of Nanking

The Wartime Diaries of Minnie Vautrin and Tsen Shui-fang

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Edited and Translated by Hua-ling Hu and Zhang Lian-hong


E-book (Other formats: Paperback)
6 x 9, 23 illustrations


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About the Book

One of the Chinese American Librarians Association’s Ten Best Books of 2010

During the infamous “Rape of Nanking,” a brutal military occupation of Nanking, China, that began on December 13, 1937, it is estimated that Japanese soldiers killed between 200,000 and 300,000 Chinese and raped between 20,000 and 80,000 women. To shelter civilian refugees, a group of Westerners established a Nanking Safety Zone. Among these humanitarians was Minnie Vautrin, an American missionary and acting president of Ginling College. She and Tsen Shui-fang, her Chinese assistant and a trained nurse, turned the college into a refugee camp, which protected more than 10,000 women and children during the height of the ordeal. The Undaunted Women of Nanking juxtaposes day-by-day the exhausted and terrified women’s wartime diaries, providing vital eyewitness accounts of the Rape of Nanking and a unique focus on the Ginling refugee camp and the sufferings of women and children. Vautrin's diary reveals the humanity and courage of a female missionary in a time of terror. Tsen Shui-fang’s diary, never before published in English and translated here for the first time, is the only known daily account by a Chinese national written during the crisis and not retrospectively. As such, it records a unique perspective: that of a woman grappling with feelings of anger, sorrow, and compassion as she witnesses the atrocities being committed in her war-torn country.

Editors Hua-ling Hu and Zhang Lian-hong have added many informative annotations to the diary entries from sources including the proceedings of the Tokyo War Crimes Trial of 1946, Vautrin’s correspondence, John Rabe’s diary, and other historical documents. Also included are biographical sketches of the two women, a note on the diaries, and information about the aftermath of the tragedy, as well as maps and photos—some of which appear in print in this book for the first time.


Hua-ling Hu has taught at several Chinese and American universities, including the University of Colorado Boulder, where she received a doctorate in history. Besides having written over eighty published papers and short stories, Hu is the author of five books, among them American Goddess at the Rape of Nanking: The Courage of Minnie Vautrin. She was awarded the Chinese Literary and Arts Medal of Honor for the Chinese-language edition of her biography of Minnie Vautrin.

Zhang Lian-hong is a professor of history and the chairman of the Center for Studies on the Nanjing Massacre at Nanjing Normal University, as well as an associate chairman of the Modern Chinese Historical Society of Kiangsu Province and Nanjing Historical Society. He is a coauthor or coeditor of seven books published in Chinese.


“This book offers a rare glimpse into the inner worlds of two remarkable women during the dark moments of wartime violence against civilians in Nanjing. The juxtaposition of the diary of Tsen Shui-fang with that of American Minnie Vautrin presents a wealth of opportunities to explore critical issues such as women and war, national identity, and humanitarianism in early 20th century East Asia.”—Daqing Yang, author of Technology of Empire: Telecommunications and Japanese Imperialism 

“This book is a significant contribution to the study of the Nanjing Massacre. It will help researchers and the general public to better understand what really happened during those terrible dark days.”—Sun Zhai-wei, author of To Verify History: Research and Deliberation on the Nanjing Massacre

“These valuable accounts in their respective languages are primary sources providing vivid witness to the tragic Rape of Nanking.”—Joyce Lebra, author of Women in Changing Japan