Iris Chang, world-renowned Chinese-American author of "The Rape of Nanking," which exposes the brutal atrocities by Japanese army in China during the World War II, has committed suicide, US police said Thursday.
Chang, 36, was found dead Tuesday in a car south of San Francisco in what police determined as a suicide act, said Terrance Helm of the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Department. She died from a single bullet to the head.
Police said Chang's husband reported her missing on Monday and police identified the body on Tuesday morning. "Our detectives determined it was a suicide," he said.
Her agent, Susan Rabiner, said Chang had suffered from "classical clinical depression" and had been hospitalized earlier this year. She said Chang left a note to her family asking that she be remembered as she was before her illness.
"I'm just shocked," said retired San Francisco Superior Court Judge Lillian Sing, who was helping Chang with a documentary on aging U.S. military veterans who had suffered as POWs in Japanese captivity during World War II. "She was a real woman warrior trying to fight injustice."
Born in Princeton of New Jersey to a Chinese immigrant family, Chang grew up in Illinois and received a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Illinois. She worked briefly as a reporter for the Chicago Tribune and Associated Press before entering a master's program at Johns Hopkins University in 1990.
She later became a historian full time. She lived in Sunnyvale,California.
Chang rose to international fame in 1997 when she published thebook "The Rape of Nanking, the Forgotten Holocaust of World War II," which is a graphic account of the killing spree in then China's capital Nanking by invading Japanese Army in 1937.
The book, rejected by Japanese publishing houses, was a result of two years of investigation by Chang in China. She exposed that tens of thousands of Chinese civilians were slaughtered by Japanese soldiers, and an estimated 20,000-80,000 Chinese women were raped.
"Many soldiers went beyond rape to disembowel women, slice off their breasts, nail them alive to walls. Fathers were forced to rape their daughters and sons their mothers as other family members watched," she wrote.
"Not only did live burials, castration, the carving of organs and the roasting of people become routine, but more diabolical tortures were practiced," she wrote.
Her most recent book was "The Chinese in America: A Narrative History," which was published last year. It records the history ofthe hard struggle by Chinese immigrants in the US in the past 150 years.
The book was named one of the best books of the year by The SanFrancisco Chronicle. And Chang's first book, "Thread of the Silkworm," told the story of the Chinese scientist who guided the development of China's Silkworm missile.