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Last Updated: Thursday, 11 November, 2004, 10:26 GMT
Author Chang found dead aged 36
Iris Chang
Author Iris Chang was known for her books on China
Best-selling US author Iris Chang has been found dead at the age of 36.

The writer was discovered in her car on a highway near Los Gatos in California and had a gunshot wound to her head.

Authorities believe the injury was self-inflicted. Chang had recently been treated in hospital after suffering from depression.

Chang was renowned for her books about the Japanese occupation of China as well as the history of Chinese immigrants in the US.

She was best-known for her 1997 international best-seller The Rape Of Nanking, which described the atrocities committed by Japanese soldiers during their occupation of the former Chinese capital in the 1930s.

'The best historian'

Chang started her career as a journalist, but left to pursue writing and published her first book at the age 25.

Thread Of The Silkworm told the story of Tsien Hsue-shen, the Chinese physicist who pioneered China's missile programme during the Cold War.

Her agent Susan Rabiner said she suffered a breakdown during research for her latest book about US soldiers fighting the Japanese in the Philippines.

She continued to suffer from depression after leaving hospital, and in a note to her family asked to be remembered for the person she was before she fell ill.

The late historian Stephen Ambrose described Chang as "maybe the best historian we've got".

"She understands that to communicate history, you've got to tell the story in an interesting way," he added.



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